UPMC doctors seeing progress in treatments for COVID-19

PITTSBURGH — Doctors at UPMC said many COVID-19 patients at its hospitals are getting better at a faster rate.

“People are now experiencing less frequent bouts of severe virus impact... perhaps that means the virus is less virulent than we once thought,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, Senior Medical Director at UPMC.

Even though testing numbers have grown drastically since the spring, and the positivity rate is slightly higher, UPMC officials said the number of hospitalizations is not problematic right now.

“Daily discharges are three times higher. Our discharges are outpacing our hospitalization rates. Patients are getting better. And getting better fast, at least a day faster than before,” said Dr. Oscar Marroquin, Chief Health Care Data and Analytics Officer at UPMC.

One reason for the faster recovery times is the use of steroids.

“We have better treatments including steroids and more effective clinical protocols and we know how to use it all better for patient care including positions and breathing support,” Yealy said.

There’s also evidence that the virus could be changing.

“It’s been noted around other parts of the country, including New York, the pattern of illness has changed, and it appears less severe. In part, that might be due to virus changes, has a lot to do with what we choose individually to do and how we adhere, public health interventions, and the tools we have available to treat. They all play together,” Yealy said.

Yealy said the best way to avoid spreading the virus is to wear a mask, keep a social distance and stay home when you’re sick.