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Medical professionals urge the public to wear masks and social distance

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:41 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -Kentucky has seen another spike in COVID-19 cases over the past three weeks, and last week Governor Andy Beshear extended the mask mandate another 30 days.

A doctor in Bowling Green is urging the public to not give up and continue to use the preventative measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We were anticipating a second wave, it happens because there is a lot of what I call COVID fatigue going on. It’s been months, and we’re asking people to stay away from loved ones, we’re asking people not to celebrate holidays, and there is a time where people get exhausted of this, and they just get tired of everything else, and they just want things to go back to normal. But, you don’t stop fighting in the middle of the war.

We have many different ways we used to prevent the spread of COVID. None of them are perfect, but that’s the Swiss cheese model. So if you’ve seen a slice of Swiss cheese, it has holes in it. Is a mask 100% guarantee that it will prevent transmission? The answer is no. But it is one more layer that we add. We need to continue wearing masks, we need to continue socially distancing because, without that, I’m very fearful that our hospitals could get overwhelmed again. Our cases are rising here, in Bowling Green, and they’re on the uptick pretty much in the whole state. This is not just a problem that’s limited to the U.S. like, there are entire countries in Europe that are shut down. So it can get worse and if you’re not careful, it will get worse.

So the only thing that I could do is I can urge people that you know, please, wear your mask, please continue to social distance. I know this is exhausting. Okay. But this is a war against the virus. We didn’t stop fighting in the middle of World War II, because we were tired, we were hungry. You know, we continued. So this is a marathon. It’s not a sprint, and we really can’t afford to get tired right now," said Dr. Karan Singh, Pulmonologist, Western Kentucky Heat, Lung, and Gastroenterology.

Dr. Singh is a pulmonologist, and when asked if wearing a mask can affect your oxygen levels he gave the following answer.

“It is uncomfortable? For sure. I mean, and I wear masks pretty much when I start in the morning to the evening. My mask is on and it is uncomfortable and it can get tiring, but it is not dangerous or life-threatening. Now, people with end-stage lung disease, they can keep their little oxygen probes on and measure their oxygen saturation. Typically, they do not fall when the mask is on. So surgeons, doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, we’ve all been wearing masks. So you know, it’s not pleasant, it’s not fun, but it is necessary,” added Dr. Singh.

Dr. Singh also has seen patients in the ICU with COVID and then followed up with them months later. He added that there have been some patients with lung damage.

“So, a lot of the patients that I take care of in the ICU, I tend to follow up with afterward. So we’re seeing a whole myriad of lung disorders that happened after. Typically it is seen mostly in people who have been really sick and in the ICU. So we’ve seen scarring of the lung, lung fibrosis. We’ve seen residual damage to your cardio boundary. What I mean is your reserves are completely depleted by the virus, the vast majority of them, you know, when I do lung function tests, and then three months later they are okay. But there is a significant minority that will have seen permanent and sometimes catastrophic damage to the lungs and other organs, which is regarded as well infection,” added Dr. Singh.

Also, Dr. Singh added there has been an increase of ICU patients at The Medical Center.

"Our first wave was awful than our numbers kind of plateaued and they started to dip. I allowed myself to be cautiously optimistic. But the numbers are rising. So again, I just urge caution, okay. This is a very serious virus. What happens is, our brains are taught to think one way, so we don’t appreciate fully the risk. Now, if anyone of us were to get the virus the chance of us having a catastrophic illness from it, let’s just assume it to be one in 10. That doesn’t sound like a lot, because there’s a nine out of 10 chance that you’re going to be okay. But then close your eyes, think of your neighbors and your family. One out of those 10 will get very, very seriously ill and then think of the whole city, that’s a lot of people getting sick, and that can completely overwhelm our system. So even if you do get sick, what are the odds you will be okay. From a population health perspective, this virus is catastrophic. It’s not like anything else that you’ve seen before,” added Dr. Singh.

The chief nursing officer at TJ Samson Community Hospital said that this is the first time they have seen a large spike in cases in their community.

“So for us here locally, this is our biggest spike at all. So we did not get that initial spike in March like the bigger metro areas were. But we have seen a large spike since the beginning of October,” said Brandon Dickey, Chief Nursing Officer.

He also added that if the community doesn’t follow the preventative measures it can put healthcare workers at risk.

“I hear stories daily from our staff that they enter a store or a gas station and they’ll see a group of people not wearing masks, and they turn around and walk away. Because they don’t want to risk the chance of being infected," added Dickey.

Dickey wanted to also make a plea to the general public to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

“Please wear your masks. This virus is serious and it can have negative consequences on patients. So it’s important for us to take whatever precautions that we can,” added Dickey.

For all CDC masks guidelines click here.

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