Ask A Doctor: With So Many Hospitalizations In Texas, Can We Expect To ‘Flatten The Curve’ Anytime Soon?

A UT Health San Antonio physician answers listeners’ questions about their health during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael MarksJuly 10, 2020 10:50 am,

In this week’s installment of Ask a Doctor, UT Health San Antonio physician Fred Campbell answers more of Texas Standard listeners’ most pressing questions about the coronavirus.

Why aren’t state leaders talking more about COVID-19 testing in schools, as we plan for reopenings in the fall?

Campbell said it wouldn’t be difficult to test students; there should now be enough tests available. But he said the bigger issue schools will have to confront is how to implement social distancing and mask-wearing.

“This is a population that’s not necessarily at high risk for serious disease, but very high risk for communicating it to high-risk individuals,” he said.

Can the coronavirus be carried and spread through cigarette smoke?

Campbell doesn’t know of any studies that directly link a person’s inhalation of second-hand smoke to an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. But there is growing evidence that the virus can linger in the air in an “aerosolized” form, which means that it can likely spread even without close contact with an infected person.

What makes a good face mask?

The type of mask you need depends on your circumstances. Health-care workers who are in close contact with COVID-19 patients need to wear N-95 masks that have the “highest protective value,” Campbell said.

For others, face coverings with two layers of a material like denim are usually sufficient. But Campbell urges people to remember that masks alone aren’t enough.

“The most important thing we can do, again, is combine the use of the mask with the social distancing recommendations,” he said.

With almost 9,700 COVID-19 patients currently in Texas hospitals, can expect to “flatten the curve” anytime soon?

Campbell experts this “wave” of infections to subside in a couple of weeks, especially since Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive order requires face masks and limits gatherings. That should keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

“Probably, within two to three weeks of really, really strict attention to social distancing and mask-wearing and hand-washing … we’re going to be able to see the curve begin to flatten,” he said.

Web story by Caroline Covington.§

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