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Doctors weigh in: Should mask-wearing, social distancing stick around after the pandemic?

Dr. Yogesh Shah with Broadlawns Medical Center believes some mitigation efforts should stick around.

DES MOINES, Iowa — More than 500,000 people in Iowa have been vaccinated for COVID-19, meaning the state and country are one step closer to herd immunity.

But, some central Iowa doctors think  the public may want to consider a new normal that consists of wearing masks, keeping up with good hygiene practices and social distancing. 

"I strongly feel that we will be continuing to keep these public health measures as part of our life," Dr. Yogesh Shah, chief medical officer at Broadlawns Medical Center, said.

Shah believes some of the mitigation efforts should stick around, because with them in place, they have reduced other common illnesses. 

"Normally by this time in the U.S. on an average, we have 50 to 70 thousand deaths per year because of influenza or flu," Shah said. "This year is the first time in 130 years the numbers of flu-related deaths have gone down significantly."

Which he attributes to mask-wearing.  

Dr. Brarbara Hodne, Chief Quality Officer at The Iowa Clinic, and Dr. Jeff Brock, Infectious Disease Pharmacist at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, said they both hope other health officials keep pushing good hygiene practices like they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

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"We should continue with good hygiene, good hand washing or using that hand sanitizer if we don't have access to soap and water," Hodne said.

Dr. Brock added, "It's one of the most important measures to reduce your chances of infectious diseases." 

"We touch things all the time.... door handles, desks and there's a potential of picking up infectious particles."

The doctors added that keeping social distancing around in certain situations might also be helpful, but could be hard to enforce with so many people wanting to get back to large group activities.

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