Dr. Stephanie Hall, Chief Medical Officer of Keck Medical Center at USC, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss her outlook for the US's COVID-19 response as election results continue to roll in.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Let's talk about COVID-19, because with all the attention on the presidential election, you might have missed the fact that we registered 91,500 new cases in the United States of coronavirus just yesterday. Let's bring into the strain, Dr. Stephanie Hall, chief medical officer at Keck Medical Center at USC. Good to have you here.
At the beginning of the program, Doctor, we mentioned that there are potential treatments like these. I can't pronounce it correctly, but the Eli Lilly multi-antibody regimen that have shown some promise. So when if God, forbid, you wind up in a hospital, are these things yet available? They're not out of testing yet. So where do we stand on that?
STEPHANIE HALL: Well, thank you, Adam. I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you this afternoon. So, yes, we do have availability. There is emergency use authorizations. And these treatments are available and especially at our academic medical centers across the country that research protocols are ongoing, because, really, the answers that we need come out of well-designed research when that we can evaluate the evidence and make sure that that in fact that there is truly benefit to these various therapies. We are hopeful. They are showing some good outcomes. But, again, we really are anxious to get the evidence from the scientific studies.
SEANA SMITH: Dr. Hall, the presidential race is too close to call at this point. But how are you as a health care provider thinking about this and how the outcome of this race will potentially impact the federal response going forward and how you're also incorporating not just within your practice and also just amongst your colleagues?
STEPHANIE HALL: We've learned a lot over this past year. And one of the things that we've learned is really preparedness is where it's at, right? And regardless of the outcome of this election, the science is the same. It's very clear what needs to be done. And the idea here, in all of our health systems across the country, here in California, is about being prepared and encouraging and educating the populace on how to protect themselves and hopefully that we can get a standard across the country-- that's what we would really like to see-- so that everybody is understanding the best ways to go about protecting themselves, preventing transmission.
And if we can prevent transmission, we can reduce hospitalizations and we can reduce the deaths. The deaths across the country-- this is something that we feel that there is a lot of prevention where we can jump on. And that is wearing our masks, keeping the social distancing, and making sure that we follow these and wash our hands. Not doing these things in large groups is really what is keeping the country from making progress. And so we're hoping that whoever is in the Oval Office will adopt those standards and recommend them across the country.
ADAM SHAPIRO: What about the-- is there a shortage, rather, of medical folk to treat those who end up in the hospital? I mean, that number, 91,500 testing positive. Some of those people will head to hospitals, which in some states we know are overcrowded now.
STEPHANIE HALL: That is true. And it depends on the state that you're looking at. Here in California, we do have adequate hospital beds. Our ICU beds are good. But, again, it depends on the surge. And so if we have a big surge of patients who get ill and that require hospitalization, it does stress the health system. And we're seeing that in the Midwest right now.
And so right now, at least in the Western parts of the country, we have adequate hospital beds. But we're watching it really closely. There are microareas where there's uptick. So the number of health care personnel and the toll it takes, we can't overlook that-- that and so, again, as community and citizens, if we follow the rules, then we can reduce the risk and the burden on the health care workers that risk their lives every day taking care of patients who are infected.
And so I think that to answer your question more directly, do we have enough health care personnel? I think we have a good supply. We have to use them wisely and make sure that we don't overstress the system.
SEANA SMITH: Dr, Hall, we don't want a lot of time left. But I just quickly want to ask you about drug shortages because this is something that the US has been dealing with for years. You've been quoted in the past saying that drug shortages have really become your new reality. To what extent has the pandemic exacerbated the problem?
STEPHANIE HALL: Well, we have to keep a close eye on drug shortages of every type of drug. It's across the board. It's not just the drugs that treat COVID but all kinds of drugs. And it has to do with manufacturing and the rules around that and the pharma industry. But what the consequence is, is we find ourselves daily in the hospital assessing the medication and then trying to find an alternative if we're short. And that is continuing to be a significant challenge for our health care personnel.
And I think that the looking forward and keeping an eye on it and making sure that our sources are secure and that our stocks are adequate is part of our daily life and hospitals across the country. And when we don't have enough stock, then we reach out to our colleagues in the local areas. And we collaborate to make sure that patients get the medications that they need. And so it is a challenge. It's something that I think we as a country need to really look at.