COVID-19 Q&A: Dr. Jeremy Cauwels takes your questions

Why stay 6 feet away, why coronavirus testing is limited and more insight

Questions continue to swirl surrounding COVID-19.

Whether it’s the impact on day-to-day life, or how health systems are prepared, everyone wants information.

Sanford Health continues its commitment to answer the questions you ask, hosting another Facebook Live Q&A session, this time with Dr. Jeremy Cauwels, senior vice president of clinic quality.

Watch now:

Continue social distance, hand hygiene

Cauwels echoed sentiments from health care leaders and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem by reporting South Dakota has no community spread. This is largely due to the recommendations from state and health care systems, and the public’s continued practice of social distancing and good hand hygiene.

“Social distancing means maintaining a distance where an aerosolized virus like this can’t travel from person to person,” Dr. Cauwels said. “We estimate that distance to be something less than six feet. I say something less than six feet, because it’s probably closer to three or four, unless somebody’s really coughing hard. Even then, the droplets don’t really make six feet. That was the safe distance the CDC picked out for how far we should stay away from each other.

“I think the important part, is the message you’ve already heard. Social distancing is a tool we can use to help ‘flatten the curve’ of this disease. Washing your hands is absolutely, vitally, important.”

Support local businesses

One viewer brought to light the devastating impact the pandemic is having on the economy nationwide. They asked could be done to support local businesses, wherever you live.

Dr. Cauwels says opting for take-out or buying gift cards can go a long way to support small shops.

“You know the places you like to go, you know the food you like to eat. You know that you would love to be in that restaurant tomorrow, if you could.

“Right now, my advice to you would be not to go to that restaurant. So, give them a call on your way home from work. Put in a take-out order, and bring it home with you. You maintain the social distancing, and yet you still get to support those local establishments,” Dr. Cauwels said.

No concern over supplies

Another person wondered if Sanford is prepared for the possibility of an influx of cases, and if it has enough supplies on hand. There is no current concern within the health system, according to Dr. Cauwels.

“Right now, just down the hall from us, we have ‘incident command.’ They spend their days working on those very issues.¬†(They’re) looking at how fast cases are coming up in Iowa, how fast they’re coming up in Minnesota, how fast they’re coming up in Washington, and trying to understand what we can do to influence that curve. To flatten that curve, to make it so that the health care facilities available in Sioux Falls, which are outstanding, have the capacity to take care of every person who gets sick.

“The part that I think is important is to understand that and social distancing are the two biggest tools anybody can use to make sure that we don’t overwhelm health care in general,” said Dr. Cauwels.

Limited access to testing

Viewers also raised questions over the state’s access to test kits. Dr. Cauwels says it’s important to keep in mind this virus is brand new to humans.

“Understand that 100 days ago, this test didn’t exist. We didn’t have it. We didn’t know what we needed for it. Nobody was testing for it at all,” he said. “Because of that, as medical science has advanced as quickly as it has to identify COVID-19, and to understand what we needed to do to test for it, one of the things we’re still trying to get our hands on is exactly what chemicals we need, and how much of it we need, to do the testing.

“Whether you work in the federal government, the state government, or for an individual hospital, right now everybody wants to get their hands on the same chemicals to do the test.”

Dr. Cauwels says Sanford is actively working on different methods for testing, including working with commercial labs and developing a blood test for COVID-19.

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Posted In Coronavirus, Expert Q&A

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