Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - A top Mayo Clinic expert is advising that it is too early to relax social distancing measures.

Doctor Gregory Poland with the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group says he understands that people are weary of the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus but he contends we are just beginning to "see the fruit of those efforts."

Dr.Poland, in an interview with the Mayo Clinic News Network, says we run the risk of having to start all over again rather than sustain the restrictions for several more weeks to determine if the COVID-19 caseload is really flattened down and staying down before beginning a phased reopening. He points to Japan, where he believes they sent their children back to school prematurely and then experienced a major uptick in coronavirus cases two weeks later.

Dr. Poland says evidence of decreased community transmission also needs to be accompanied by expanded testing for the virus, and our ability to do that is "not quite there yet." He says expanded molecular testing will allow for the identification and isolation of infected individuals to make sure there is not a repeat of what occurred in New York where the hospitals became overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Expanding antibody testing will then enable the identification of those who have already been infected and likely have some immunity to the coronavirus.

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