Infectious Diseases

6/29/20
Leaving your home increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, and travel is no exception. However, travel may be possible if appropriate precautions and considerations are taken into account in advance, says Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. Experts recommend driving to a destination as opposed to traveling by bus, train or airplane. “You’re bound to have fewer interactions with people than you would if you were flying,” Russo says. For the same reason, he recommends staying at an Airbnb or Airbnb equivalent over a hotel. 
6/26/20
Business Insider quoted Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, in a report on the safety of new cleaning requirements for Airbnb hosts. “If you want to be safe, run utensils and dishware through the dishwasher when you get there and that should take care of that,” says Russo. You can do this as well for laundering bed linens and towels, “so you have control of what you want to be washed and cleaned.”
6/25/20
The NFL has said it will be up to teams and their local governments to determine whether fans will be allowed back in stadiums when the football season begins. Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, says that in Buffalo, some Bills game-day traditions may need to be put on hold. Tailgating is “an extraordinarily bad idea,” notes Russo. “This virus is very, very infectious, and its spread occurs when individuals are interacting in close quarters. When people get excited and shout, that increases respiratory secretions, which is the mode of spread.”
6/25/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is quoted in a report on the safety of travel by train during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Remember that most of the transmission of the coronavirus is respiratory — it’s not through inanimate objects,” says Russo, noting the bulk of the risk in train travel comes from fellow passengers and staff. 
6/24/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is quoted in a report on the rise in COVID-19 infections in people under age 50 over the past three weeks. “I think it has to do in part with the opening,” said Russo. “Now they have the ability to go to bars and restaurants and indoor conditions where you’re more likely to get infected.”
6/22/20
In a report on the safety of reopening basketball courts in Buffalo, Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is interviewed. “I think the pluses are that it’s an outdoor activity and we know that the coronavirus is less infectious outside because it gets readily dispersed in a larger air volume,” said Russo, before noting his concerns. “People running up and down the court, breathing heavily, and likely to be in close quarters for a long period of time is gonna certainly increase their risk of getting infected.”
6/22/20
CNN published comments by Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, about how to safely return to work and when workers should wear masks. “Although the risk is greatest when in close proximity to someone, it is still possible to get infected when separation is greater than six feet; mask use will minimize this risk,” he said. The comments are part of CNN’s weekly COVID coverage provided by experts; Russo is now one of CNN’s pool of experts for this weekly feature.
6/20/20
The Buffalo News quotes John A. Sellick Jr., DO, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and a hospital epidemiologist for the VA Western New York Healthcare System, in a story on socially distanced seating arrangements the Buffalo Bills are considering, and options for other teams. Sellick said he shares Buffalo Sabres tickets with a group of friends, nearly all of whom are 65 or older, and that none seems certain about when they would feel comfortable attending a game. “Before I would go back in person, I’d have to see that there’s some kind of mitigation involved,” Sellick said. “If they just say, ‘We’re going to fill the arena, come on down,’ then my guess is my Sabres group is going to fall apart because pretty much nobody’s going to want to do that.”
6/20/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is quoted in a report on the need to take safety precautions while traveling in the summer. “Getting to and from your vacation venue, whether it’s by bus, train or plane, inevitably you’re gonna interact with other individuals, so in that circumstance, it’s critical that you maintain your mask use,” said Russo.
6/19/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, published an article featuring tips on how to stay safe from coronavirus while eating out. “Menus are a bit more problematic, depending on the material. Plastic menus could be disinfected. Disposable menus would be more ideal,” Russo writes. “Remember, even if someone touches a surface that has infectious virus, as long as they don’t touch their mouth, nose or eyes they should be safe. So, when in doubt, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.” 
6/17/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is interviewed for a story that examines asymptomatic transmission of the novel coronavirus in young people. “We know that you can be asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic and spread infection. The question that is unresolved is what portion of secondary cases are a result of this mode of transmission,” Russo said.
6/16/20
Media outlets nationwide published an article by Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, on how to safely protest while staying safe from coronavirus. Russo noted that while being outside is generally safer than inside, several factors specific to protests negate those benefits, such as large crowds in close proximity for a long time, chanting and shouting, which increases respiratory secretions and the lack of personal protective equipment. He concludes: “It’s hard to protest in an absolutely safe fashion, but if everyone was wearing masks and eye protection, that would significantly decrease risk.”
6/16/20
WGR 550 Sports Radio interviews Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, about Western New York’s phased reopening in light of COVID-19, and preparations for Phase 3. “We’re definitely at the right point to try this. Our cases are at an all-time low since the beginning of this outbreak,” Russo says. He cautions, however, that Phase 1 and 2 were akin to “minor league ball,” whereas now “we’re going to the “big leagues.” He notes that some indoor activities are included in Phase 3, and says people must remain careful. The region is still in the early phases of the pandemic, he says, which means most people are still susceptible to the virus.
6/11/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, was interviewed about Western New York not getting a false sense of security from the declining COVID-19 rates. “I think it’s really important that even though we're moving through the phases, we don't have a false sense of security,” Russo said. “I think that there’s really two reasons that we're doing so well. I think that first, even though we’re starting to open these things up, people have been cautious, and people for the most part have been following the suggested public health measures, importantly using masks and social distancing.”
5/29/20
Articles on whether flying is safe during the coronavirus quotes Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. “I would think that you could control spacing and time that you might be exposed to individuals who might be infectious unbeknownst to you more easily as you’re entering the airport and during the boarding process, than when you’re on the flight,” he said.