Dr. Carl Lauter, an infectious diseases specialist and the director of the division of allergy and immunology at Beaumont Hospital, said he and his wife, Jain Lauter, are continuing to social distance and wear masks, despite being fully vaccinated.

Dr. Carl Lauter, an infectious diseases specialist and the director of the division of allergy and immunology at Beaumont Hospital, said he and his wife, Jain Lauter, are continuing to social distance and wear masks, despite being fully vaccinated.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Local doctor pleads for vigilance as COVID cases climb

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Metro | Published April 7, 2021

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METRO DETROIT — A year ago, when metro Detroit was just getting used to the COVID-19 virus being an everyday risk, we had just a small amount of information and a lot of worries.

Is the virus airborne?

Why are seniors more susceptible to serious illness?

Will we ever get a vaccine?

Now, we all know a little more about the virus, but the worries are different.

Why do I need to wear a mask if I’m vaccinated?

Why do younger people now make up the majority of hospitalizations?

Things are finally opening back up … doesn’t that mean we’re safe?

It just goes to prove that the virus is still a few steps ahead of us, according to Dr. Carl Lauter, an infectious diseases specialist and the director of the division of allergy and immunology at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

“Many people say, ‘I can’t live like this.’ The virus has caused economic and psychological harm, yes. But if we’re ever going to get out of this, we have to suck it up,” Lauter said. “Be defensive: Don’t throw away your mask yet. Don’t think that everything is OK and you can stop social distancing. Avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated places, even with your own family and even if you’ve been vaccinated.”

Lautner, of Bloomfield Township, said it’s not just the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the hospital that’s got him nervous, but the people he’s seeing out and about in his own community.

His wife, Jain Lauter, noticed the same.

“I think that the grocery stores I frequent — like Plum Market, Papa Joe’s, (Johnny) Pomodoro’s — they really do a pretty good job, and people there are considerate of others and wearing masks,” she said. “But I really have to pick and choose where I go. I won’t walk into places that are overcrowded. I mostly do curbside pickup, because some people still just won’t wear the masks.”

In a two-week span in the middle of last month, Michigan’s seven-day average of new cases per day increased 122% — the largest change in the U.S., rising to close to 4,000 from just over 1,600 cases. The state’s seven-day per-capita case rate was third-highest, behind New York and New Jersey.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Service believes the climb is due in part to outbreaks that have occurred during high school sporting events, restaurant openings and other loosened restrictions.

“It’s a stark reminder that this virus is very real,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a prepared statement. “And it can come roaring back if we drop our guard. It’s a reminder that we’ve got to take this seriously and every one of us has a personal responsibility to get the vaccine, to wear our masks and to be really smart in these waning months of COVID.”

Carl Lauter is even more concerned about a stronger fourth wave coming to metro Detroit when families — and, in particular, young people — return home after spring break trips.

“The only good news is when disease affects younger patients, it’s usually milder with lower mortality rates,” he said.

Just recently, during Passover, the Lauters hosted a Passover seder with just three guests.

“We had our door walls open, our windows were open, and we sat two people at a table, on either side of a 25-foot room,” Jain Lauter said. “Our children had their seder at their own house. And I would’ve loved more than anything to have everybody together.”

So the takeaway, the Lauters said, is for their neighbors to hang on just a little longer. While the vaccine makes its way into arms, plans to travel, visit or even meet face-to-face should probably stay on pause, they said.

People should get the vaccine as soon as they get a chance, the doctor said. If not to protect themselves, then to protect those around them.

“We don’t have the type of system in America where we force people to get the vaccine. But it is safe, and it’s amazingly effective in the majority of people,” he said. “But it’s less effective in elderly people with underlying illnesses or transplant patients. So they’re all the more reason we should get the vaccine, because the only way we can protect them is to create a circle of protection around them.”

While laws prohibit mandatory vaccination, Carl Lauter said he believes vaccine passports will be necessary for certain activities in the future hosted by private companies, like air travel, sporting events and more.

Oh, and of course, keep wearing a mask.

“I have a plethora of N95 masks that we bought, and my 10-year-old granddaughter made me a chain with her beads so I keep one around my neck at all times,” Jain Lauter said. “The chain says ‘Grammy.’”

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