Dr. Rai talks COVID-19 hospital situation, Badgers outbreak and Vitamin D

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 7:36 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin’s COVID-19 seven-day average percent positive rate is climbing toward 30 percent.

“It’s that forest fire analogy once again. Right now, you could be 20 miles away from the forest fire. You see some of the smoke. You’re worried about it, but it’s not going to affect you. And the next day you wake up and your house is on fire. It just happens that quickly. COVID spreads that quickly,” said Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai.

Dr. Rai joined us Thursday on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about the current situation, the outbreak that’s impacting the Wisconsin Badgers football team, and the effectiveness of Vitamin D.

Dr. Rai joins us Tuesdays and Thursdays on Action 2 News This Morning. Have a question? Email


Wisconsin’s seven-day average percent positive rate is 27.2 percent.

“It’s unfortunate. As we learn more about the virus, I think the one thing that we know is it spreads very quickly and it’s hard to contain when it’s at the level of spread we were seeing early in September. What we’re seeing in October is really the result of that. It’s that forest fire analogy once again. Right now, you could be 20 miles away from the forest fire. You see some of the smoke. You’re worried about it, but it’s not going to affect you. And the next day you wake up and your house is on fire. It just happens that quickly. COVID spreads that quickly. Especially when it starts to get a hold in a community. When that percent positivity gets above 10 percent and it starts to get to 15 percent, like we saw in September, it took off very significantly into that 20-to-30 percentile range, almost within a week or overnight is what it felt like. It’s really because the level of positivity was gaining its momentum so early.”


“It’s a handful better. I always like to have something that’s good news. So we’re a little bit better than maybe we were last week. That could change in a day or two. It’s important to understand what goes into the hospitalization numbers. Number one, it’s people starting to get better. And also, some people aren’t getting better and dying, which opens up beds, as well. So we’re discharging some patients. Now we’re in those two-to-three weeks of that hospitalization. The numbers have been building up. Some patients have been with us for 20-to-30 days and aren’t going to make it. And that’s the unfortunate part. So that’s also what’s driving some of the capacity numbers in the hospitals. All of a sudden, we have three or four open beds because a couple people got better and a few people passed away. We’d rather not see that, obviously, but you’re going to see that up and down now for the next few weeks.”


“If we followed the federal plan that was put out by the Trump administration and his people, including Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, which actually the state of Wisconsin adopted. It was the Badger Bounce Back plan. Go back to those April and May broadcasts and talked through that. If we had followed that--there was two components to that--number one, phase in. See what’s safe, see what’s not. It would help control outbreaks like we have now. I think what people also forget about that plan is it was meant to be somewhat of a sliding scale. Things get worse, let’s pull back a little bit to prevent a really big outbreak. So you think about what happened in early September, if we had pulled back just a little bit in some of the rules at that point, we may not in the position we are today. I think that’s what Dr. Fauci is saying. Phase in, but also be able to phase out. And taking it in little steps rather than saying, alright everything’s open or everything’s locked down. Nobody wants really either of those situations.”


The Wisconsin Badgers will not play upcoming football game due to positive COVID-19 cases.

“It blossoms in any kind of congregant setting. It could be a classroom. It could be a sports team. Actually, most of these sports teams sit in classrooms to review tape, and so it’s going to to spread quickly. Especially if they’re not masking, they’re not spending enough time away from each other. I feel bad for the Badgers players because it’s going to spread pretty quickly. It’s going to be a little harder to get control over it. Hopefully they can in the next seven days. But we should expect more and more people to actually start converting positive, which is going to stagger their ability to play, even after seven days.”


“We’re doing OK right now when it comes to the things we need, specifically personal protective equipment, we’re doing OK. The supplies that we need. I think what most of our staff would say is they need a break. And for that to happen we need our total number of admissions to come down. For that to happen we really need our total number of cases to come down. As much as we can do in wearing our masks and physically distancing away from those we don’t live with when we’re not working, that would be great. And the other thing I think our staff would says is get tested. As many people as we can get tested, the more people we can get controlled through this virus and stop the spread. Our staff would probably appreciate that.”


A viewer has convalescent antibodies for COVID-19. His wife got COVID-19 and fell ill. Does he need to quarantine?

“It really depends on when you had it. So say Ted got positive in April and his wife is positive now, in October. That’s longer than 90 days. So yes, Ted, you would have to quarantine. If you had COVID-19 within the 90-day period of your wife getting it, you would not need to quarantine. So really, after you’ve had the virus, you isolate for 10 days, and then for the next 90 days, you would not need to quarantine if you were exposed to somebody, such as your wife.”


Are certain blood types more susceptible to COVID-19?

“There’s been a few studies, I think actually four, a couple from Canada, around blood type. Not really large studies. They’ve given us some directional opinions. In other words, Type-O blood, you may not get COVID as much as somebody with Type-A or Type-B. But it’s a may. There’s not enough research to say it’s definitive, or there’s a definite cause that if you have Type-A or Type-B blood you’re going to get COVID more than Type-O. It’s something that’s going to continue to be researched. So right now, I don’t think there’s enough data to be firm about that. But there are good articles out there at least discussing it.”


Could the viruses merge and create a “super virus”?

“I think everybody worries about mutations. This is probably the first one I got about two viruses coming together. They both are RNA-based forms of genetic material, but two very different classes of viruses, to be honest with you, two different families when they look at the families of viruses. So the likelihood of that happening is not there. But we do know the influenza virus and the COVID virus that we’re seeing today will continue to mutate over time. So it will change its look. But the two combining together, probably not a reality situation.”


“There’s some studies out there right now looking at Vitamin D and looking at patients that were Vitamin D deficient versus non-Vitamin D deficient and how they did with COVID. Those with Vitamin D deficiencies did worse than those that weren’t Vitamin D deficient. So some people have recommended supplementations. If you are Vitamin D deficient, you likely should be on a supplement and you should discuss that with your physician. It’s also important to remember in those cases, though, that those that are Vitamin D deficient likely had other chronic medical conditions. So it’s hard to know, was it the Vitamin D or was it their diabetes or their congestive hard failure that put them more at risk? Once again, if you’re deficient, you should be supplemented. Living in Northern Wisconsin, there are a lot of deficient people.”


"We’ve gotten that resulting time down, and it really depends on when the test gets to the lab. So it’s not really about the lab capacity that’s slowing down. That was the case early in the spring, that lab capacity would slow that down and stretch that 48-hour goal to 72 or longer. Right now, it’s not as much lab capacity that would do that. Most of us can get our results within 48 hours of the test getting to the lab. So really there’s a lot of things that get involved in getting that answer back to you. One of which is a courier service to get that lab test to the lab. The labs aren’t located here in Northeast Wisconsin. Some are in North Carolina. Some are in Madison. So there’s that transport time. But the goal right now in the state is 48 hours. "


A viewer is inviting friends to deer camp with masking required inside. They’ll be eating pre-packaged foods and using disposable utensils and plates. Is this enough?

"I worry a little about the cabin environment. It looks like you’re doing a good job, especially with the masking, As much as you can avoid bunking together, that would be great, as well.

“Definitely outside of the cabin, wear a safety harness. It’s more than just COVID we should worry about in our hunters. So I want remind you to do that, too.

"More importantly when it comes to COVID, as much space as you can give each other. So not bunking together, wearing a mask at all times, eating separately so you’re not having to unmask in front of other people. That’s as safe as you can get right now.”

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