As we move through the coronavirus pandemic, there continue to be more questions about the COVID-19 crisis. Eyewitness News and Brad Byrd are offering you answers in — Coronavirus House Calls.


Brad Byrd: Well, hello everyone. Hope you’re all doing well. It’s now your turn to ask the questions you want answers to regarding COVID-19. Today, our guest health analyst is Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabadi. She’s the Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Evansville. Dr. Payal, we’ll try to get to as many questions as possible, now. First, Governor Holcomb ‘s office reports vaccinations of children for measles and whooping cough, among others, are down 30 to 40%, in Indiana, what should parents do?

Dr. Patel-Dovlatabadi: Parents really need to get these vaccinations. I understand there are a lot of movements going on and there have been reductions in these types of vaccines. But, it’s also important to understand that measles, whooping cough, mumps, rubella — these are all diseases that can spread very rapidly amongst those who are not vaccinated. It’s an Indiana issue. It’s a national issue. It’s actually an international issue, as well. And so it’s very important to get these vaccines. You need to have 90 to 95% in order to have that herd immunity. So, do not put off these vaccines. Definitely get these, as these can save lives.

Brad Byrd: Talking about our kids now. We’re getting some reports that some children are testing positive. How did parents make a decision on whether or not to get their kids tested?

Dr. Patel-Dovlatabadi: Right so it’s definitely important to look out for those basic symptoms. So, cough or fever, chills, perhaps even a sore throat. If your child does have those symptoms, it’s important not to rush to the ER. Ask you if you need to go get a COVID test done for your child.

Brad Byrd: Well, some states are encouraging people to wear face masks out in public. New York has made that, well, close to mandatory. But, other states are using the word ‘encouraging.’ Is that defeating the purpose of wearing face masks for all?

Dr. Patel-Dovlatabadi: Right. ‘Mandatory’ versus ‘encouraging.’ Encouraging involves some type of personal responsibility to protect society. And so, many states are encouraging. However, in some states, the local health departments are kind of superseding that, and mandating facemasks. Because, local governments are allowed to supersede when it comes to public health guidelines. So, it’s definitely — even if it is encouraged – it’s very, very important to wear that face mask, just so you are protecting yourself and also others.

Brad Byrd: The so-called ‘filtered’ face masks that I’ve seen popping up as ads on social media — some health experts say ‘be careful,’ because they only filter the air coming in but not out. What do you say?

Dr. Patel-Dovlatabadi: Yes, there are a lot of those face masks out there. And, it’s true they do filter most of the air coming in and not out. So, they may be beneficial for those who are trying to protect themselves and avoiding COVID altogether. But, if someone is diagnosed, they will not filter that air coming out. Most of these masks are not National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved, either. So, we just have to be kind of cautious about that.

Brad Byrd: Someone dear to my heart — my wife — has a good question. We hear about getting temperatures before you report to work, or go to some places like restaurants, and even hair salons. What happens if your normal temperature is lower than 98.6? Say, like, in the upper-96 range.

Dr. Patel-Dovlatabadi: Right. Not everyone’s temperature is 98.6. It’s not the standard really. Body temperature ranges. It can range from a low of 96.8 to even a high of 99. And, it’s really dependent on age, physical fitness, gender, even the time of day you take it. And, so, typically the rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher indicates a fever, regardless of what your average body temperature is.

Brad Byrd: Well, some COVID patients have reported rashes and possible lesions. Would they be considered a symptom, or is this an after-product after you’ve been tested?

Dr. Patel-Dovlatabadi: Right. These rashes, lesions and minor spots are developing as a result of COVID. So, typically most people are seeing this after they’ve been diagnosed. You commonly see this with a lot of respiratory infections. You even see it with the flu sometimes. So, this is the body’s natural reaction to finding a virus

Brad Byrd: Swimming pools in Evansville are closing for the remainder of the year. What’s your reaction to that? Good idea or not?

Dr. Patel-Dovlatabadi: Yeah, so that’s actually a great, great idea. They’re remaining closed. I believe they’re following the Indiana State Department of Health guidelines, as well as the CDC guidelines. And, I know there are a lot of staffing issues as well. So it’s definitely a great way to, again, prevent the spread and transmission of COVID.

Brad Byrd: Right. Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabadi, thank you so much, as always, for giving us your time and your expertise.

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(This story was originally published on May 13, 2020)