(WEHT) — Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati, Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Evansville, answers more questions about coronavirus.


Brad Byrd: Hi everyone, hope you are staying well. We are asking questions to get answers as this pandemic continues to evolve. Our health analyst is Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati, Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Evansville. Dr. Payal, the CDC is now saying those antibody tests may not be as reliable as first thought, indicating almost half maybe flawed. What’s your reaction and should you get retested?

Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati: These antibody test are in abundance. Actually, they were approved for emergency use, so they really haven’t been tested for accuracy. There are over 100 antibody tests and so there are only very few that may be accurate. But as of now, we need a reliable and accurate test to show if antibodies are present. There are still a lot of false negatives and so we can’t really rely on that at the moment when trying to determine when to reopen certain businesses and universities and schools at this point in time.

BB: The virus is affecting so many different age groups. Children with autism- has the pandemic caused a major issue with these kids?

PP: Yes, it really has. Just children in general, it has caused an issue but specifically with kids who have autism, they’re really out of their routine and kind of consistency that they typically see at school and this may create some type of anxieties. There are a lot of resources on the CDC website that helps parents to establish that routine and keep it consistent at home just to minimize that anxiety.

BB: Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says many Hoosiers may not realize that this is not going to be a normal summer. She cites photos she has seen of mass gatherings on Memorial Day weekend. What do you think?

PP: Unfortunately, we are seeing mass gatherings: people not social distancing, not protecting themselves by wearing a mask or a cloth face covering. It is really the most important way we can help prevent the spread of virus. If we don’t do that, we’re going to see another spike and another resurgence. And aside from that, it will be a different summer it will not be a normal summer, even farmers markets, if they decide to reopen, they will have to follow those social distancing guidelines. So yes, it definitely will be a different summer but just because restrictions are being lifted, it doesn’t mean we can just you know, venture out without protecting ourselves.

BB: Let’s say if you test negative is it highly possible you may have to get retested depending on the circumstances? The reason I’m asking this, I think some people have possibly a false sense of security simply because they have tested negative.

PP: Very true. False negatives are actually really common and it really depends on when you’re getting tested. Earlier on in the infection, you may not have enough virus in you for that nasal swab test to detect it. So you need to give it enough time for the virus to replicate and oftentimes someone may test negative one day and given that 24 hours for the virus to replicate they may test positive the next day. So just because you test negative and maybe earlier on it’s important to get retested, especially if you know you’ve been in contact with someone who’s had COVID.

BB: This is hypothetical here, Dr Payal, but this is happening in a lot of places. Say like if you walk into a store or a restaurant and workers do not have masks on, should you just turn around and leave?

PP: Right. And my response to that is if it’s something you need that’s essential, perhaps groceries or whatever it may be, as long as you’re keeping that distance of six feet or more and you are protecting yourself with a mask, it should be fine, but if there’s some type of leisurely activity, that is really not necessary to risk it.