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Dr. Rai: “We’re going in the wrong direction”

"The percent of positivity is increasing even more, which means we're not testing enough."
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 7:16 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin needs to do more testing for coronavirus, according to Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai.

Dr. Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning Tuesday to talk about why we're going in the wrong direction, local hospitalizations and preparations for school in the fall.

WISCONSIN SPREAD

"Just like most parts of the southern parts of the country and in California, we're also going in the wrong direction. Our percent of positivity continues to increase, or stay above that seven-to-ten percent range, which is not where we want to be. And that's despite more testing. And what I mean despite more testing is even though our rate of testing is increasing, the percent of positivity is increasing even more, which means we're not testing enough. We need more people to come in that have symptoms or have been exposed so we can get them tested and isolated, because that's the only way we can prevent the spread right now," says Dr. Rai.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

"Last night I looked at just where we're at at St. Mary's and St. Vincent's here in town, and looking across the state. We're about a third of where we were at our peak when things were very bad. That's a good number to be at, there's a lot of capacity in the hospitals. But you worry about how quickly that can increase and what the rate of increase is, and what's going to happen in the next couple of weeks. So it's a number that we're going to have to watch very closely," says Dr. Rai.

BACK TO SCHOOL

"I would say that the superintendents, at least those I've worked with in our area, are doing an amazing job preparing for school to reopen. They are putting into place ways to mitigate the spread within their school, within their classroom. But that matters only if the percentage of positivity, in other words the total number of cases, is at a reasonable low number. In other words, it's not everywhere. It's not spreading in the community rapidly so that if there was a small breakout they could control it. Right now we have a pretty rapid spread. Percent positivity over 10 percent is very concerning. So I'd be concerned about children being in school right now because those entering have a higher likelihood of having the virus and spreading it even quicker. So hopefully we can get this under control before school starts. And the plans are really well put in place. But the plans only matter if the percent positivity can get to a lower number," says Dr. Rai.

YOUNGER INFECTIONS

State numbers show highest percentage of confirmed cases is the age group of 20-29. That age group makes up 25 percent of confirmed cases.

"Even locally, when I looked at our own numbers last night, we're in that 30-35 percent range in that age group. And that's a concern. Some people are thinking that's a good thing. And it's true that that age population--it's not that they're immune or that they can't get very sick, we've seen people in that age range even die--but most likely they're going to survive the virus. What the dangerous part is not what's happening today. It's what's going to happen tomorrow. How many of those age people--it's not like they only socialize or isolate with themselves. They interact with 40-year-olds, 50-year-olds and 60-year-olds. And what are we going to see next week or two weeks or three weeks down the line because of this age group right now?"

MASKING ORDERS

“It’s definitely encouraging for a lot of reasons. Number one, it allows us to prevent the spread of the virus more effectively, especially in towns with high levels of spread, such as Green Bay or Brown County, that definitely needs a mandate on masking. But it also helps with the conversation. Nobody’s perfect. Not everybody’s going to wear it 100 percent of the time. But it is one tool in mitigation, and we have very few tools right now. So hopefully we can get people to reconsider here in Green Bay like they have in other areas,” says Dr. Rai.

TOUCHING MASKS

“It’s really important when you’re wearing a mask that you know how to take it on and take it off. The most important part is to avoid touching the inside of it. Because obviously you’re taking whatever’s on your hands, you’re putting it on the inside of the mask, and you’re putting it on your nose and mouth. So making sure you’re taking off by the ear straps if that’s the kind you have, and then folding it so that the inside folds together so it’s not exposed to anything, and it’s properly stored and it’s washed daily,” says Dr. Rai.

FANS

“Some people would say that sometimes fans could cause a little more harm--depending on the research you read--because of how it circulates and keeps re-circulating the virus in the air. Really the only thing that works at getting the virus out of the air is when the air can be exchanged. In other words, moving air out of a room and moving new air into it. Fans obviously don’t do that. It’s a re-circulation aspect of it. So in some cases, they would probably recommend against it. When you talk about opening a window, you’re able to exchange air with the outside. And that’s why that’s effective,” says Dr. Rai.

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