"Don’t Feel Bad About Being Confused:" Infectious Disease Expert on Changing Recommendations

June 10, 2020, 4:35 p.m. ·


This week the World Health Organization clarified an announcement about people without symptoms spreading COVID-19. As the pandemic goes on, research and new information means public health guidance can change quickly.

Perhaps the largest change in public health guidance so far was the shift towards asking people to wear masks in public.

Dr. Angela Hewlett is medical director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit and a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She said that shift was part of learning about the virus and seeing the surge in cases.

"This is a virus that we really have not seen anything like before, as far as its ability to infect others when one person is infected," Hewlett said. "The transmissibility of this is significantly higher, we believe, than other viruses we have experience with. And so the way that we learn through that is not only learning through experience but then also looking at various trials."

Hewlett said the two most important areas of research now are treatment and a vaccine, and that researchers are working together all over the world.

In the meantime, she said recommendations may change, but those changes are based on the latest data.

"Don’t feel bad about being confused, because we’re all confused," Hewlett said. "That doesn’t matter if you’re an epidemiologist or an infectious disease specialist or any of that. We all have been confused over the last few months, mainly just because of the rapidity of the information."

Hewlett added that UNMC is actively engaged in research to help stop the pandemic and that now is the time for people to wear masks to protect themselves and others.