(WEHT) — With the number of COVID-19 cases growing in the Tri-State, Brad Byrd talked to a local doctor for her perspective.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to InDEPTH. As COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to grow, we are getting a local perspective from our guest health analyst Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabadi, associate professor of public health at the University of Evansville. Dr. Payal joins us tonight live via Skype and Dr. Payal thanks for being here. We’re hearing about the surge, the projected surge in April and in some cases in May. How much stock do you put into those models predicting the peak numbers of these cases?
PP: Right, there have been many projections, many modeling numbers and many states are actually predicting their peaks into mid April to late April or early May and these numbers seem fairly realistic. It’s again very important to keep those social distancing measures in place and we are practicing those in order to minimize those numbers. Some states may see as high as 200-300,000 cases and so it’s very important again to engage in those preventative measures to slow the spread of disease. The whole point here is to flatten that curve so we don’t see a surge in cases but rather we see cases gradually so we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system.
BB: One perception that is slowly changing in this country is the age of the people who are coming down with COVID-19. Just earlier today CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and it seems as though age is not playing a huge factor, although it is still very very dangerous for the elderly.
PP: Yes, so the majority have been the elderly but now that we’re seeing more and more cases, any age group can be affected. We recently saw the first infant death in Chicago so this can affect any age group, any age range. The virus itself is very fluid, the situation is very dynamic, it changes every day so everyone, especially the younger people really need to practice those distancing measures.
BB: And speaking of that- the tools that healthcare workers need. We’ve heard of these nightmare scenarios in NY and NJ, but how do we stand here locally as far as getting these tools such as ventilators when and if we have this surge?
PP: Hospitals definitely need to be very prepared. I know there have been shortages of face masks. There have been donations which has been great but we just need to be prepared in terms of hospital beds, ICU beds as well as ventilators so when our area sees its peak, we are not overwhelmed and inundated and healthcare professionals are adequately able to provide good care to the patients.
BB: Last week in a Skype interview, I was told by Lynn Herr of the Vanderburgh County Health Department that hundreds- her word, hundreds of tests are still out there for Vanderburgh County residents. That seems to be troubling because the numbers have been relatively low in Vanderburgh County but the percentage of those tests would suggest that we’re going to be hit much harder than we have been in the immediate Evansville area.
PP: Right and as more and more people are being tested, we are going to see more and more positive cases because testing started really late in the United States. As more tests become available, especially in Evansville and the state of Indiana. We will be seeing more and more cases. So again, stay at home is very important and following those measures.
BB:We have been told face masks don’t do as well as initially thought. Some analysts have suggested that is a good idea. Just your thoughts on those reactions.
PP: Yes, so if you are staying at home, obviously there is no reason for you to wear a face mask. But if you are going to a grocery, it may in fact, be more helpful to wear one because we are seeing more and more cases. Some evidence has said that wearing a face mask can reduce contracting coronavirus by five times, that could potentially be a good idea.
BB: Speaking of preventative measures, you can not just find hand sanitize, and other soaps in the Tri-State area. So what is the key to proper hygiene and the type of soap that we use.
PP: There may be some misinformation on anti-bacterial soap. Anti bacterial soap is more effective against bacteria, regardless of that, any soap will do. Proper hand washing will do. Really scrub when washing your hands, in between your hands, and if done right could kill the virus.
BB: Thank you for joining us, stay healthy and you’re Eyewitness News at 9.