Dr. Rai talks increase in COVID-19 activity, treatment options

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 7:47 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - COVID-19 cases are up across the state, and that comes with an uptick in hospitalizations.

Prevea President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai joined Action 2 News This Morning to address the current trends and the tools we have to prevent serious illness.

BROWN COUNTY AT MEDIUM RISK

“Definitely seeing an increase in positivity around Brown County, and actually around the state of Wisconsin, it’s just finally Brown County moved to medium. What we’re seeing is a rise in cases, specifically we measure that around a week cases per 100,000, that’s the number that’s kind of created us to flip out of the green area into the yellow area. It’s concerning because understanding that this is kind of an under-representation of cases because now we also have home testing, so when we see the reported cases going up, it’s actually more cases that are probably positive out there, so that’s concerning to us.”

TESTING

“One of our biggest tools that we can’t forget is testing. It’s important to understand, especially as we head into what would be typically allergy season, we’re all waking up with the pollen on our cars, that that sniffly nose--you have to make sure that’s not COVID first. Especially if your allergy medications are not controlling your allergies, make sure it’s not COVID. Either come into the clinic and get tested or get tested at home, but get tested for symptoms before you expose other people. It’s still one of the best tools that we have to prevent the spread is knowing who’s positive, isolating that person for a brief period of time, and preventing the spread.”

SEVERITY OF CASES

“It’s still pretty early but we’re not seeing that rapid rise in hospitalizations. Are we seeing a rise in hospitalizations? Most definitely. Are we hitting double digit numbers locally? We are. But the rate of rise is not as high as it has been. We hope it doesn’t go up. I think it’s really important, though, for people to protect themselves, get treatments to prevent those hospitalizations from going up. We have more tools now that we ever had to prevent those hospitalizations.”

HEALTH CARE CONCERNS

“It’s always concerning because we want to make sure that we’re not being overwhelmed by COVID so we can take care of all the other illnesses, the heart surgeries, the cancers, we want to make sure that’s going on. We also want to make sure the community’s safe. Right now, we’re concerned, kind of a heightened alert status right now, and hopefully those worries will go away.”

HIGH RISK PATIENTS

“Two things: number one, to protect yourself before you have the symptoms. The most important thing you can do if you’re over the age of 50, if you have any medical issues, and a lot of people think you need to be really sick to be immune compromised, if you’re over 50 and a few extra pounds, you’re high risk. It’s really important for those people to get boosted. Get your booster, protect yourself. We know the booster may not prevent you from getting COVID completely, but it will prevent you, to a really high degree, from getting really sick and being hospitalized.

“Secondly, if you are one of those high risk categories; if you’re overweight, diabetes, elderly age, over 65, and you have symptoms, let us now right away. We have treatments now including things we can send you to the pharmacy for if we know within the first five days to prevent you from getting very sick and prevent you from getting hospitalized. There’s a lot of things in our toolbox that we haven’t had before that we need to be utilizing better.”

BOOSTERS

“If you’re over the age of 50, it’s recommended that you get boosted, or if you’re immune-compromised in any way, so it’s important to have that conversation with your health care provider. They’re going to determine if you’re under 50 if you should get boosted. Because there is a good portion of the population that could qualify. It’s really important that as we start talking about the rest of our population that we are probably going to look at something around the fall to protect ourselves from those really bad surges. So there probably be more recommendations and more research being done between now and say late summer with some more recommendations coming forward.”

VACCINES FOR KIDS UNDER 5

“So right now all the studies have been submitted from Moderna to see if the under 5--they’re working at two specific things: does it work and does it work ti a really good degree. Is it worth getting a shot into an under 5 year old. And more importantly, is it safe? We want to make sure everything we give a child, or an adult, is safe, so they’re reviewing the safety data, the efficacy data. Hopefully we’ll get an answer here I’d say by the end of May, maybe early June, with implementation sometime this summer if it passes those marks.

DR RAI HEALTH JOURNEY

“I feel great. Three months ago I got some interesting news and three weeks ago today they operated on my heart and repaired my mitral valve and got to go back to work yesterday and back here today. So all is good.”

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