HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – Eyewitness News Brad Byrd sat down with Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi to discuss COVID-19 updates.

Brad Byrd: Welcome to in depth: we are in the middle of a health crisis in this country we have not seen before. There have been others, but not like this. Joining me tonight is Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi, and my first question, ‘Is this much worse than you first thought?’

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: It is, we saw many cases in China and then the disease just spread in a very quick manner. In the United States, the cases started just taking off because our testing capabilities are finally in place so that’s why we are seeing a number of increases in cases as we will continue to see an increase in cases as more and more people are tested.

Brad Byrd: Perception is that this is a virus that can affect elderly people more than younger people, but statistics are suggesting everyone is in the same boat?

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: Yes, initially we thought the elderly would be more affected by the diesease. But now it’s showing that younger people are being affected. Specifically, in the United States, the deaths we have seen so far, 23% of the age category we have seen, have been from the ages of 20-64 age group. So the younger population really needs to take this seriously.

Brad Byrd: There is so much mystery with the coronavirus, the first symptoms, you start feeling that fever, but how long has that virus been in your body?

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: On average, it takes 14 days for symptoms to appear, individuals can experience symptoms as soon as two days, or as long as 27 days but on average it’s 14 days.

Brad Byrd: So you could have the virus for 14 days and not know it.

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: Yes

Brad Byrd: There is this thought that immunity could be achieved, how much stock do you put into that?

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: It can for the most part, but most recently in China, an individual who had COVID-19, recovered, and now is experiencing symptoms again. We really don’t know at this point.

Brad Byrd: The pressure on health care providers, doctors, the nurses, the techs, and what they are facing. Tell me about that.

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: Health care systems are really being overwhelmed and if we continue to see a number of cases we may be having a shortage of resources. There are currently a shortage of face masks, gloves and gowns. Nurses and physicians are working right now without the necessary personnel equipment. They have to be home and this can create a shortage of health care professionals.

Brad Byrd:Okay, staying at home, the six foot rule, we have been hearing so much about. You have a family, no one has a symptoms, but then one member has a symptom, what’s the next step.

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: If someone does have that symptom, you should self isolate. You should go into another bedroom and if that is not a possibility, then it’s very important to minimize contact with other family members. It’s recommended to wear a face mask, to disinfect high touched areas, to do laundry with very hot water. Do everything you can to prevent the spread of the disease.

Brad Byrd: It’s so complicated, yet so simple at the same time. People have been told to not touch their face, you said an interesting fact, that I didn’t believe. How many times do people touch their face in everyday life?

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: On average, we touch our faces from 2,000-3,000 times a day per day. One of the biggest recommendations and preventive measures is to not touch your face.

Brad Byrd: Why is brushing your hands so critical?

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: We may be touching our faces, we may be going to the grocery store, the virus may live on surfaces for as long as two hours or as long as 9 days. That’s why it’s so important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Brad Byrd: Do you think young people are getting this message?

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: Again, like I said before, the younger generation may not take this serious. Younger people are getting sick, they are experiencing mortality. We practice those social distancing measures, that is the only way to slow the spread of this disease.

Brad Byrd: President Trump is really pushing getting back to normalcy by Easter. That’s roughly 16 days away. How do you respond to that?

Dr. Payal Patel Dovlatabadi: Honestly that’s disastrous. We can look at the Spanish Flu and Pittsburgh had very lax social distancing measures, and Saint Louis had very strict social distancing measures. Each saw different death rates, Pittsburgh saw very high death rates, Saint Louis had very low death rates. Yes social distancing may seem intrusive but it’s a very simple measure. It may affect our daily lives but it works. Therefore it needs to be in place, perhaps for months, to slow the spread of the disease.

Brad Byrd: If you have a question for Dr. Payal or any of out experts on coronavirus like and follow my Facebook page. Search for bradbyrdnews and drop me a line in the visitors comments or in my mailbox.

Brad Byrd: Thank you so much for joining us, you are watching Eyewitness News at 9.

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(This story was originally published on March 24, 2020)