WEST READING, Pa. – It's too late to change the names of the color-coded COVID-19 classifications, but health experts said what we do in this next phase is key.
"I kinda wish the green was in like, when we have a vaccine and you're completely safe, right?" said Dr. Charles Barbera, Tower Health's vice president of pre-hospital and unscheduled care, "because most of us think green light go."
Officials said green shouldn't be thought of as "go" but rather "remain cautious" – especially as COVID-19 case numbers inch up in Pennsylvania and soar in places like California, Florida, and Texas.
"This virus, as we've seen in other states, is not gone," Barbera said. "It's all but gone. It's not gone. It is still here."
Tower Health representatives said the situation is not as dire as it was months ago in terms of overwhelming hospitals here, but spikes elsewhere in the country should be concerning.
Testing is increasing, but how do we know the time frame between when a person was tested and when results are made public?
"Many of our facilities do testing in-house," Barbera said. "We have the ability to test and in 45 minutes let someone know if they're positive or not. Now that being said, we reserve those tests for those that are most critical."
Tower Health said more-available rapid testing locally is still a month or two away. In terms of contact tracing and points of transmission, will we soon be able to pinpoint how a person got sick?
"Maybe not say, 'Well, it's because you went out into the parking lot last night at 5:15,'" Barbera said. "I'm not sure we'll ever get there, but we will be able to look at clusters."
Those at Tower Health are still urging everyone to social distance, wear a mask, and avoid large crowds.
"Many of the precautions that we have been urging our public, our patients, our colleagues, our friends, our neighbors, our relatives to take still exist," Barbera said.
As of Thursday, Berks has had 4,306 confirmed and 155 probable cases of COVID-19, according to state health officials. The coroner reported there have been 315 confirmed and 26 positive deaths.