Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati returns to Coronavirus House Calls.


Brad Byrd: Hello everyone, I hope you and yours are doing well. Questions you want answers to regarding COVID-19- we’re getting those answers right now. Our health analyst is Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati, associate professor of public health at the University of Evansville. Dr. Payal, a major revision announced today about a University of Washington projection about Indiana COVID-19 deaths. As you know, Dr. Payal, it has been scaled down much lower than the number that was projected last week, how do they reach a conclusion like that? Tell me about that.

Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati: Right. So about two weeks ago, the projection was a little over 1000 then it was revised significantly to a little over 5000 and now it’s back to 2400. 2400 is still higher than what was originally projected by August 4, but they did make some revisions regarding contact tracing and isolation and quarantine measures and just various modeling features. But again, this is still higher than what was originally predicted.

BB: They’re called heartland hotspots- they’re now emerging popping up. Why is that happening now in this process?

PP: These hotspots are typically happening in the red states that may not necessarily follow preventive measures and social distancing guidelines. And it’s happening both in rural and urban areas and also in states where there are very minimal stay at home orders or premature relaxation of the stay at home order. So all of these factors kind of contribute to those hotspots. So we see that as people venture out more cases will rise.

BB: The issue of testing is becoming a battle in Washington healthwise. Now, why do you feel it’s the best way to reopen the economy in a safe way?

PP: Well, we have to have everyone tested if we reopen the economy, everybody has to be tested before they go back to work just so we see who’s has COVID, who doesn’t have COVID, who may still be at risk. This is really the only way to successfully and safely go back to work. This still remains a big challenge, as we still do not have that testing capacity available. But testing and antibody testing are two critical components in order to safely reopen the economy.

BB: Now the story of a whistleblower- Dr. Rick Bright was the government’s top vaccine expert. He claims he was ousted because of his warnings early that our country was not prepared for COVID-19 and why we could face in his words, a very dark winter if we don’t get a unified strategy. What do you think about that?

PP: I do agree with that. The response by the US to COVID has been far from optimal. We really shouldn’t be where we are with respect to this pandemic. So we need to scale up testing contact tracing, isolation measures, quarantine measures, and really push those preventive guidelines that’s really the only way that this pandemic can get under control and if it’s not under control, the second wave of covid will coincide with flu season and it’s going to pose many challenges to the healthcare system and also to society in general.

BB: Restaurants are starting to open up indoor dining. If you wear a mask, it’s pretty tough to dine in. What do you use? What do you suggest?

PP: Restaurants are following many preventive guidelines; the waiters and waitresses are wearing face masks tables are set six feet apart. So it may not be necessary to wear a mask inside but many restaurants are taking preventive guidelines to ensure the health and safety of their diners.

BB: Broadway actor Nick Cordero is about to come home but at a terrible cost. He had a leg amputated, was in a coma and his wife said x rays and scans showed his lungs look like that of a man who had smoked cigarettes for 50 years? He is 41 years old. Why does COVID-19 hit some people so hard like that, and others come through this relatively easily?

PP: hat’s still a big unknown at this point. We know now that many are getting blood clots, and this can lead to various issues such as what he experienced. But there are still so many unknowns about this. This is what makes the disease so ambiguous and so uncertain. Others may get very mild illnesses, we have asymptomatic people who don’t feel anything at all. And then we have someone who’s so young, 41 years old, experiencing major severe symptoms. So these are all still unknowns, that we have no idea why this occurs, and I’m sure we’ll get more information as the disease evolves.