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ER physician on how the flu and COVID-19 'mimics each other'

Dr. Sampson Davis, ER Doctor at East Orange General and author of 'Living and Dying in Brick City', joins The First Trade to discuss the latest news on COVID-19 as the global death toll climbs closer to 1 million.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: We are on the verge of hitting a grim milestone in the fight against COVID-19. The number of lives lost to the virus is nearing 1 million globally. And new hot spots keep popping up. The US, Brazil, India, and Mexico now account for more than half of the total. To help us break this down is East Orange General Emergency Room Doctor, Sampson Davis. Who is also the author of Living and Dying and brick city, as well as Yahoo Finance's health care reporter, Anjalee Khemlani. Good morning to you both. Dr. Davis, are we now experiencing the second wave of the virus that we have been warned about, do you think?

DR. SAMPSON DAVIS: Yeah I think we're at this second wave with the virus, but truth be told the virus never stopped. It has always been ongoing and we've seen hot spots pop up in other parts of the country, and across the world. As you mentioned, in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, and here in the United States. We lead the surge in the cases of the virus.

So these hot spots that we're seeing pop up has helped the virus to sustain. So we haven't really truly seen a sharp decline. We have seen it in certain parts of the country, but as we see a decline happen here in New York, we see it increase happen in the Midwest.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Dr. Davis, Anjalee here, looking at the broader picture of what is going on in hospitals when it comes to treatment. Some sense of protocol has been developed with proning, Remdesivir, Dexamethasone, But we're still waiting to hear about antibody treatments, and others as well. And it seems like the vaccine rate has sucked the oxygen out of that. And a lot of attention is going on that. What can you tell me about where we stand when it comes to developing new treatments? And the hope is for that as well. In the meantime.

DR. SAMPSON DAVIS: Yeah I think the vaccine is the golden key. That's the answer to this whole dilemma here with this pandemic. But what we're seeing, as you mentioned, is the treatments along the way. The things that we're doing, the dexmethasone, of turning a person prone lying them on their stomach. Trying not to intubate a patient, helping them to help themselves to breathe on their own.

So we're still putting efforts to that. And it is truly all hands on deck. I mean scientists, doctors, everyone across the country and across the world for that matter is working diligently to try to find other treatment options. But the golden goose here is the vaccination and hopefully we will get that. I don't think it's going to happen this year, but within the next year or so, we should hopefully have the answer to resolving this pandemic.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Absolutely, and on the vaccine, there still are questions about the durability of it. And whether or not we can stop social distancing and wearing masks even after that. What are your thoughts on the two that are the front runners right now? Being the burden of a two dose and follow up on patients that way. There's a lot of questions about the logistics of this right now. As someone in the health care profession, what do you feel about that, what's your confidence on that?

DR. SAMPSON DAVIS: So I think when it comes to the vaccination we want to believe in something. So whoever is leading the surge, whoever is in phase 3, or are leading the charge with the answer with the vaccination. We want to believe in that, obviously, because we want an answer to this situation here. But until we know for sure, 100% confidence, that we have something that works in terms of treatment or cure for that matter. We're still working and doing what we have to do. We're still doing things that we need to do for patient care. And so we need the people, all our people, to make sure that they still practice the social distancing. Which I have seen sort of ease up. Wearing a face mask, which is important. And hand hygiene, making sure you wash your hands and make sure you sterilize your hands obviously. To prevent the vaccination from occurring.

- Doctor bring us down to inside the hospital preparation in advance of a potential vaccine, or even treatment. What are you doing today?

DR. SAMPSON DAVIS: So what we're doing now, quite honestly what we're worried about to switch gears a little bit, is the flu season. The flu season is upon us. And unfortunately the flu, and coronavirus, kind of mimics each other. So we're making sure that we're pushing patients and people to vaccinate themselves and their children. It is very important. If we look at the pandemic we see a surge in 20-year-olds, or the younger population in our country sort of keeping the virus going. And so now with the flu season approaching, we have to make sure that we take proper protocol. Every day we offer flu shots to all the employees or the patients. And as far as the coronavirus is concerned, we're maintaining the precautions that are necessary steps. We have been, as far as wearing the PPE and making sure we test every patient that comes into the hospital. That's admitted to the hospital for any procedure or for any illness.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Dr. Davis there were reports last week that taking someone's temperature may not be a great gauge as to whether or not they have symptoms of COVID 19. What are you doing at the hospital, and how is that still a part of the criteria when you decide whether or not someone has it? I mean ultimately, of course, you would give them a test. But are you still, are temperature checks still as important as they were six to eight weeks ago?

DR. SAMPSON DAVIS: So, again, I think with the temperature checks we have to do something. And so it gives a bit of confidence when we check a person's temperature. And if they have a fever then we know for certain that, OK, this person has a fever. They need to be quarantined, or to be tested, obviously. But with that in mind, if you have Coronavirus today you may not manifest a fever. You may not have a temperature. And so it may be three or four days, if at all, you develop a fever. And so I think we still do it, I know I do it every time I enter the hospital. All the employees, all our patients, as well. But it is one of those situations in which we have to do something. And so taking that person's temperature makes us feel a little bit confident that this person may not have the virus. But I can promise you, to your point, that is not an answer if that person is Coronavirus positive or negative.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to leave it there. Dr. Sampson Davis, thanks so much for joining us.

DR. SAMPSON DAVIS: Absolutely.