NORFOLK, Va. - Local doctors worry mixed messaging about the spread of the coronavirus will lead to people letting their guard down.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization said spread of coronavirus by asymptomatic people is rare. These are infected people who don't show symptoms. They later clarified to say there are a lot of unknowns.
"I just think it was a misstatement that it's very rare. The real answer is that we don't know," said Dr. Edward Oldfield from Eastern Virginia Medical School.
The virus can spread through asymptomatic transmission, said Dr. Norman Oliver, the state Health Commissioner. "Asymptomatic spread or spreading the disease when you yourself don't have symptoms is something we know exists," he told News 3 on Wednesday.
Doctors also say the disease can spread by people who are pre-symptomatic, meaning they're infected and not showing symptoms at the time, but eventually they will. "That really underscores the importance of face coverings. Wearing a mask prevents you from spreading that disease. You may not have symptoms, but you can spread it," said Oliver.
As Virginia continues to reopen, the doctors say social distancing and mask wearing continues to be vital in the fight against the spread. "The virus is still out there and while it feels safe to go out there, it doesn't mean that there's no risk," said Oliver.