(WEHT) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Eyewitness News continues to get answers to your questions from experts.
Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati, Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Evansville, joined Brad Byrd for another edition of House Calls.
Brad Byrd: Hi everyone I hope you’re doing well. Today we’re asking questions to get answers regarding COVID-19. Today our guest health analyst is Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati, Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Evansville. Dr. Payal, Sunday is Mother’s Day. A colleague asked me about whether she should visit her mom who lives three hours away in Indiana. How safe is that and what do you say?
Dr. Payal Patel-Dovlatabati: You have to assess personal risk. If you feel like you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID, or if you work and you’re in constant contact with the public, if your a mom is a high risk age group, then it is probably not a good idea to take the risk. However, if it is necessary to visit, then it’s very important to take those preventive measures and wash hands multiple times and obviously stay away from hugs.
BB: The lingering after effects after recovery- Dr. Payal Can you speak to what you should do
after you have recovered because many people are reporting that they’re still feeling a little puny.
PP: Most of the milder cases will recover, usually within a few weeks, three to five weeks or so. The more severe cases may take longer. However, it’s important after recovery after symptoms have gone away, just to relax and let your body heal. It’s also important to do mild exercise if possible just to strengthen their lungs and also do some deep breathing but it’s very very important to let the body fully heal if you did experience mild illness. However, severe illness may have some long term lingering effects.
BB: Initial findings at a recent hospital admissions in New York State show most new victims and these findings of the coronavirus are people who were mainly out of the workforce and following a stay at home orders. Governor Cuomo said the results were shocking. What is your reaction to that?
PP: Yes, and the data is very shocking. And this is largely a result of individuals staying in overcrowded apartments or units. They were not working, they were staying at home, but perhaps one of the individuals may have come into contact with COVID and has spread it significantly. So it’s largely due to in unit overcrowding and also the lack of preventive measures.
BB: Researchers from the UK and Belgium are studying llama antibodies for a potential vaccine. Have you heard about that? And what do you think?
PP: Yes, it’s really interesting. Actually, the research began a few years ago when we had MERS and SARS. And then it was kind of halted but what we see that is the llama antibody, it can actually neutralize perhaps the COVID spike protein which affects other healthy cells. So, research is underway, trials have begun to determine its effectiveness and if it is effective, this could be a huge, huge positive for COVID.
BB: Prisons are being hit hard as we’ve reported. That’s not surprising, how do you manage that confined population to keep non positive inmates safe?
PP: That is very hard and many prisons are trying to figure that out. Obviously, we know that prisons are very overcrowded. Some strategies some states have taken is to release inmates and prevent as much face to face contact as possible to prevent the spread. However, again, prisons are very overcrowded so this may not be as feasible.
BB: And speaking of face to face contact cloth facial coverings, they are popping up everywhere. Some people are wearing them. Some people say no. If you do wear them, how often should you wash them- after every day of use?
PP: Yes, every day of use. So if you were the covering multiple claims a day, then at the end of the day, it should be washed and if it shows any signs of wear and tear, that it should be replaced so it does provide the maximum benefit.
BB: Dr. Payal, you are an expert on public health and your expertise is directly linked to this pandemic. Being a member of the health community and consumed with all of these stories and numbers and people complaining about, basically asking, Are we making a too big of a deal out of this? How is that impacting you emotionally?
PP: Brad honestly, it is emotionally challenging and frustrating at times. We’ve seen the numbers we’ve seen the impact, we’ve seen the severity that COVID has. People are dying, young people are dying and getting strokes, young children are getting severe inflammatory syndromes. Being a public health professional, I’m not on the frontline. And so I can’t even imagine what the health care workers are experienceing- the mental emotional, physical fatigue, but I’m just a public health professional. Our core mission really is to prevent disease and protect people from disease protect their health. And when I hear these news stories every single day at night, I think to myself that shouldn’t have happened, that should have been prevented, but for many reasons, it’s not being prevented. So it is really frustrating but I really do hope that as a society, we all engage in personal responsibility as we all venture out. It is very important to social distance and to wear a face mask. It is our personal responsibility to protect ourselves and also others at the same time.
BB: Well for what it’s worth, Dr. Payal, we sincerely appreciate your contribution with your expertise and stay safe yourself.
(This story was originally published on May 24, 2020)