(WEHT) — Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati returned to Eyewitness News to answer more questions about coronavirus.
Brad Byrd: Well hello everyone; we are asking questions you want answers to regarding COVID-19. Our guest health analysts is Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati. She’s an Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Evansville, Dr. Payal first, the White House has announced that the coronavirus task force is being dismantled by the end of the month. What’s your reaction to that?
Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati: Brad, this is somewhat unfortunate. We do need to have those medical experts, the public health experts in place to guide kind of the country’s response to COVID, Yes, the cases are plateauing. But we may see a resurgence and so we need to have a team in place. It is somewhat unfortunate. I know kind of the main goal now is shifting to how we can open the economy but this is unfortunate as we need to have those experts in place.
BB: An influential coronavirus model often cited by the White House is now forecasting that 134,000 people will die of COVID-19 in the United States by August- nearly double the previous prediction about 3000 daily deaths in the US by June 1. And that according to an internal document obtained by the New York Times, what’s your reaction to that?
PP: That is largely due to all these predictions are modeling predictions based on statistical and mathematical formulas and they incorporate mobility data as well as the lifting of restrictions by states and somewhat premature lifting of restriction. So more and more people are kind of venturing out even though there are many states that are still seeing their peaks right now. So the the projections kind of take this into account. There are other projections as well. They are somewhat similar. Others are more kind of optimistic in stating that we may be more around say 100 or 110,000. But the number of cases and the number of desks will definitely continue to increase as more and more people tend to venture out.
BB: Social distancing, I have seen some big box stores with filled parking lots. Why is distancing still so very important after some of these restrictions have been lifted?
PP: It’s really the only way that we can control the disease. It’s important for everyone to realize that just because restrictions are lifted, doesn’t mean we can go back to our usual daily activities that we did prior to COVID. We still have to engage at hand hygiene, we still have to be six feet apart from each other and wear face masks and face coverings. This is really the only way that we can control the diseases still out there. People are still getting affected and people are still dying. But this is really the only way that we can keep this in control.
BB: Trying on clothing in stores, what suggestions do you have on taking caution as people begin to go out and basically go clothes shopping?
PP: I know many department stores will have their own guidelines and Macy’s recently announced that if someone does try on clothes, they’ll hold the clothes for 24 hours and then return them back to the floor. Currently, we do not know how long the virus may survive on clothing. But each individual department stores will be taking their own precautions. Again, hand hygiene is very important.
BB: 15 children had been hospitalized in New York City with this mysterious illness possibly tied to COVID-19. We don’t associate the COVID-19 epidemic to our kids, but can they be at risk in other ways?
PP: Yes, so this is really unfortunate and UK saw something very similar. Well, children are being affected and it affects them most often after they kind of recovered from COVID and it may be somewhat of an immune inflammatory reaction. So we’re seeing something new as a result of COVID affecting children practically each and every day. So children are becoming more at risk.
BB: Dr. Payal what should we be most concerned about now when we begin to venture out with these summer months coming up?
PP: It’s really important to do it slowly, just because restrictions are being lifted, it doesn’t mean that you could go shopping and then go out to eat and go to the salon at one time on one day, we want to limit your exposure to people as much as possible, stay at home as much as possible. I can’t reiterate this enough. But we have to practice those preventive measures hand hygiene, face mask face covering still social distancing. Really, this is the only way that we can keep this disease under control. So it’s important to take all of these things into account.