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Idaho Doctors Blast Health District For Spreading Misinformation

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Idaho set new grim COVID-19 records Tuesday. Our state recorded 35 deaths and more than 1,400 lab confirmed cases of the virus. As our state basically continues a free fall into the worst phase of the pandemic, we gets answers to your questions about the disease and how to keep your family safe. 

Physicians joining Idaho Matters this week: 

  • Dr. David Pate, former CEO of St. Luke's Health System and a current member of the Idaho Coronavirus Taskforce. 
  • Dr. John East, a pulmonologist at Saint Alphonshus Health System.
  • Dr. Martha Taylor, System Medical Director for Urgent Care with St. Luke's Health System. 

Have a coronavirus question you want answered? Tweet or email us: idahomatters@boisestate.edu.

Read the full transcript here:

GEMMA GAUDETTE: You're listening to Idaho Matters, I'm Gemma Gaudette. Idaho set new grim COVID-19 records Tuesday. Our state recorded 35 deaths and 1406 lab-confirmed cases of the virus as our state basically continues a freefall into the worst phase of this pandemic. Today, we are once again bringing in medical experts to talk about this and to answer your questions if you have one, email us now: idahomatters@boisestate.edu, and we will try and get those questions answered in the next hour. So joining us today: Dr. David Pate, former CEO of St. Luke's Health System, as well as a current member of the Idaho Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Martha Taylor, system medical director for urgent care at St. Luke's, and Dr. John East, a pulmonologist at St. Alphonsus. Thanks, everyone, for joining us today.

ALL: Thanks, Gemma.

GAUDETTE: Thanks so much. And Dr. East, I think I said your name wrong, I think I accidentally called you John and it's Jim, so let me correct myself. I apologize for that.

DR. JOHN EAST: Actually, you were right the first time. It's John.

GAUDETTE: Oh, it's John! My producer's in my ear, she thought it was Jim and not John. So we're all good. You got to love 2020 and live radio. Right. Huh. OK, we needed that moment of levity.

Dr. Pate. I want to start with what in the world happened yesterday. First off, there were two health district meetings, one in Caldwell, for Southwest District Health, one in Boise last evening for Central District Health. I want to talk first about Southwest District Health because of a lot of false information, frankly, that was put out by -- and I'm using air quotes of people, you know, you can't see me by -- so-called medical experts.

DR. DAVID PATE: Well, Gemma, does your producer have one of those bleeping things that if I say a bad word, they can cover me because I may have to say a bad word. You'll need it. I have to say that for a pandemic that began in January or February, whenever you want to point that to, to now be in the middle of November, and we are still having public health authorities invite, solicit and receive positively information that has been debunked months ago from people, as you say, who are supposed experts but are certainly not experts, not mainstream, not following the science. And in fact, in some cases from some of what I saw making dangerous recommendations. The fact that a public health board would even entertain that is mind boggling. And I think is a sad reflection of where we are. We should look to our leaders to seek out the best information that science and medicine and public health has to provide us. Thank God that the board subsequently heard from Dr. Sky Blue and Dr. Michaela Schulte, who actually do know what they're talking about. But this is a sad state of affairs. And I think that one of the big problems, when we're facing a challenge, is if we only want to hear what we want to hear, we're going to be in trouble. We need to know the truth, the hard truth, and let's deal with it. But if we select out to just hear sources that will tell us what we already want to hear, we're going to be in big trouble.

GAUDETTE: But before we talk about the Central District Health meeting, I do want to bring into the conversation Dr. East and Dr. Taylor. Dr. East, you are a pulmonologist at St. Alphonsus. You are on the front lines of this pandemic. The mayor of Boise, yesterday had a health briefing with heads of hospital systems in our state, and they painted a grim picture. Well, can you talk to us about the spikes that we are seeing in hospital cases? Because, as Dr. Pate said, it seems just to not be getting through to people.

EAST: Sure, I'd be glad to, but first I just want to add to a couple of things that Dr. Pate had said. You know, when I saw that story about a provider who had provided information to Southwest District Health, I was really just dismayed. I was profoundly disappointed that someone who supposedly is a professional was really abdicating professional responsibility and not looking to the science, really trying to seek information out wherever they could find it, that confirmed whatever notions they may have had rather than actually looking at the facts and the science. So I think it's a complete abdication of personal and professional responsibility by those people who had presented information to Southwest District health. In terms of, you know, the spikes that are being seen. You know, it's real. There's a large percentage of the patients presenting to our emergency room with COVID symptoms. A large percentage of our hospitalizations right now are patients being admitted due to active coronavirus infection and pneumonia. And at this point, we're not in a state where we're overwhelmed. But as you mentioned, some of the information that was presented yesterday about the trends on the modeling, which so far has held very true to reality. The models that, you know, have been used to have really been very good at at at predicting what's going to happen. We're looking at doubling hospitalizations within a month or so and tripling the hospitalizations related to coronavirus within two months and we do have plans to deal with this. Every physician involved, every hospital administrator involved in this has been working on a plan for, should we get to this point, but we don't want to get to this point if we're getting to the point where we're having to actually ration care. That's really a situation, you know, we've never really seen in this country on a widespread scale, and yet, you know, it's going to happen if people don't alter behavior. We just can't simply continue on the current trajectory without paying a very serious price down the road.

GAUDETTE: Mm hmm. And Dr. Taylor, I know that you see a lot of patients who aren't sick enough to maybe go to an E.R. visit, yet their primary care doctors may not, you know, be quite ready to handle the higher infectious risk of COVID patients. Can you talk about how that is playing out too.

TAYLOR: Sure, absolutely, to your point, we in the urgent care line of business were at the very, very beginning of COVID in Idaho, at least for St. Luke's. A lot of the primary care clinics, specialty care outpatient, had to shut down because of the unknown transmissibility of COVID, the risk to their patients who could be immunocompromised. So effectively, the urgent care and the emergency rooms, we're really seeing the bulk of COVID patients from February, March, up until October. And we had found over that course of time that patients had-- we saw two different issues. Patients would come in with all sorts of ranges of types of symptoms, wondering if they had COVID, from anything from a cold to severely ill people. And incidentally, we may end up talking about this later, but the patients we're seeing now, as opposed to six or eight months ago, are coming in with some much more serious sequela of COVID than we did at the beginning. And I have a suspicion that this is because those long-term effects that no one knows about yet are starting to play themselves out after somebody's diagnosed. But that being said, we also are seeing patients that are coming in afraid of getting covid. So they hold off on coming in for something more serious, a stroke, a heart attack, new onset diabetes, appendicitis. We'll see these patients that should be coming in very early in the course of these diseases. And they're scared to come in and get infected with potentially a patient in the waiting room or in the exam rooms with COVID and unfortunately come in sometimes before it's too late.

EAST: This is a point that I think really needs to be underscored, that Dr. Taylor made and it's one thing that the people just aren't really thinking through when they think about this. For every COVID patient that is admitted to the hospital, that's a hospital bed. It's a nurse. It's a physician that's not available to treat someone else. And, you know, the complications and the deaths that you can end up seeing if we get to a situation where we've reached capacity, it's not just going to impact patients who have coronavirus infection, it's going to impact the patient with a stroke, with myocardial infarction, with bacterial pneumonia, with diabetic ketoacidosis, with anything that requires hospitalization, and particularly if it requires ICU level care. There may not be the resources available to administer it. And we're not in a situation like we were in the spring where if we were full, we actually would have capacity or capability of transferring a patient out of state to Salt Lake City or to Portland. Those may not be options if we get into a situation where our hospitals are full.

GAUDETTE: And that is such an incredibly good point to make, is that having people understand that these are, as you just mentioned, Dr. East, so many of those are curable. And yet if you can't get in, if there is not space, these could become uncurable. And with that being said, Dr. Pate, before we take a break, I do want to go back to the Central District Health meeting last night. Now, for people who don't know, Central District Health covers Ada, Valley, Elmore and Boise counties as under the CDH jurisdiction. They did put in a series of strong recommendations: wear a face mask, anytime you're within six feet of a non-household member. Suspend youth and adult sports or social distancing cannot be maintained. Work from home if possible. Avoid close contact with non household members if they are in a certain risk category and close restaurant dining rooms. The director of CDH said that people do not want mandates. That is why they issued a health advisory. I think that it is completely appropriate to say that advisories and personal responsibility is just not working.

PATE: Well, I think that's clearly our experience. I think that is wonderful that they still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa and that advisories are going to suddenly say, 'oh, wow, I guess we should now wear a mask. I guess we should not go to a big party.' I'm delighted that they still have that sentiment. But obviously that has not proved to be the case when in October you have a parent having a sleepover with 20 kids. Obviously, these kinds of things are not working. And I think their comment that they would issue an order when we got to the point of implementing crisis standards of care, I think to Dr. East's and Dr. Taylor's points, you know, when we get to that point, we're in big, big trouble. And if you think that we're going to turn that around overnight by now issuing a health order, you're mistaken. It will take weeks for that new order to show us the benefit. When St. Luke's data analytics are suggesting we're going to hit that point sometime in December, and St. Al's data analytics showing we're going to hit it in January if things don't change, and I think most all of us expect that things are going to get worse after Thanksgiving, the time for advisories is over. The time to get serious about how we're going to protect people is now because I understand Central District Health point that people don't like requirements-- Guess what? When all heck hits the fan, which it's going to do if something doesn't change, none of those people are going to refrain from blaming the health care leaders that didn't take action. And once they find out that they're in the E.R. with mom, dad, spouse, child who cannot get a bed, cannot get life-saving treatment. And guess what? Like Dr. East said, Utah can't take our patients. Portland has already said they're getting close to the point. We can't get them to Seattle. These parents or spouses are not going to understand and there's going to be heck to pay.

GAUDETTE: Mm hmm. Well, you know what? I don't personally like speed limits, but I follow them because it's more than an advisory. I mean, it's really as simple as that.

EAST: Can I make a comment? Well, you know, leadership's about making difficult decisions, and it really is incumbent upon these agencies to step up and make the difficult decisions that need to be made. Making difficult decisions is not easy. You're going to disappoint people. People aren't going to like it. But I think we really have to think as a community about what is at stake here. We're looking at going into a prolonged period here of several months where we may be at or above capacity. And it's not going to be a situation that turns out well. You're going to have a lot of bad outcomes. You're going to have outcomes because of lack of resources. You know, there's real limits to not just the capacity of the facilities, but the capacity of the staff who are having to deal with this. And it is not finite. It is a limited capacity.

GAUDETTE: So we have quite a few listener questions about Thanksgiving. And I want to start with this question from a listener.

LISTENER QUESTION: If I get a test a few days before Thanksgiving and it comes back negative and everyone else at a gathering does the same thing, will it be OK to have a large, unmasked inside gathering?

GAUDETTE: Who would like to answer that question?

TAYLOR: I'd be happy to have this question asked of us often for things not just for holidays, but for planning trips out of the state to go on vacation or going to attend sporting events. And the answer is no. There is no definite safety in that negative test, because depending on a) which test you take and b) where you are in a timeline, you could test negative, but have that viral load be too low to actually catch on the test to meaning it would be what they call a false negative so that person could get a test, think it's negative, two days later, have the full-blown disease and have already passed it on to several countless family members.

GAUDETTE: Dr. Taylor, can you answer this question then? Because that goes right into what you just said, because Sheila emailed and says:

LISTENER QUESTION: If someone tests negative six days after exposure to a COVID-positive person, could they just not have a viral load to test positive or can they be assured they don't have it?

TAYLOR: Again, it depends which test you take, and it depends where you are in that timeline. There are two tests that we routinely use throughout our urgent cares presently. One is a rapid test that we offer if the patient has symptoms. That has a window of up to five days. So that means that if that person got that rapid test on day six, that viral load may have dropped just enough under that threshold to still have that person be contagious, yet not show up on that test.

Conversely, we have a second offering that is a little bit more sensitive test that runs anywhere between the start of the illness, sometimes up to two weeks can catch it. That being said, that test is not infallible. So you have 7% to 8% of those patients that are actually positive -- very infective, very contagious -- that will test negative on that test as well. And that's the best one we have presently. So, again, the answer is absolutely no. You cannot be assured that you don't have it, nor can you be assured that you would not pass it on to others.

GAUDETTE: And Dr. East, another question regarding Thanksgiving. This person does want to remain anonymous. So the individual says:

LISTENER QUESTION: My in-laws, ranging from preschoolers to elderly grandparents, are all insisting on coming to my house in Ada County. I have told them it is really bad here in the Treasure Valley and I think hospitals are at or near capacity, so it's not a good idea. They are still planning on visiting. How do I get them to understand that it isn't safe to visit?

EAST: I think that sounds like a challenging situation. I think that the caller is absolutely right. I think that, you know, levels of transmission here, community levels are dangerously high. And I think that trying to drive home the message that, you know, this is not a normal year. We all miss the meetings that we have with our family members, the contact that we have with them. It's a difficult time for everybody. But we also want all of our family members and friends to be around for next Thanksgiving and thereafter. And I think, you know, sticking to the facts, emphasizing what the problem is with that, that you can't guarantee that somebody is negative even if they've tested just beforehand. And then I think just insisting that this year be different. You know, I think the caller has the fortune or maybe it's the misfortune of having Thanksgiving planned to be at their house this year. But I think we all need to step up -- those of us who have knowledge on this -- and lead and encourage people to make the right decisions in this time.

GAUDETTE: I appreciate that answer, Dr. East, because you're right, there is no easy answer when there is an insistence like that. Dr. Pate, last week we talked a little bit about the first vaccine that we found out about. We now have more information. So we've got a lot of questions about that. But the first one is from Priscilla and she emailed us and she said this:

LISTENER QUESTION: A friend of mine is part of the Pfizer vaccine trials and has received two inoculations. Of course, she doesn't know whether she received placebos or the vaccine. Both before and after being inoculated, she has regularly worn a mask and she's followed other CDC guidelines. As far as she knows, she has not contracted the virus. I don't understand how vaccine-makers can separate the effects of the inoculations that she received from the effects of her wearing a mask and following other guidelines. Let's say she received the vaccine rather than the placebo. Assuming that indeed she has not contracted the virus, how do we know that this is due to the vaccine rather than her safe practices? The person goes on to say, I do trust the science, but this seems like a big gap in the method.

PATE: Well, it's a great question and the reason is because we don't rely on these anecdotal cases. Like if we were just looking at this person's friend, you're right, we would have no idea what is it that protected him or her. But what we do in these studies is we have tens of thousands of people that are study subjects and we divide them into a group that does get the vaccine, but another comparable group that doesn't get the vaccine. So that helps us. And then what the vaccine manufacturers require is statistical models where we look at how many infections in the study group do we need so that we can sort that out. And so each of these two studies you referenced, first the Pfizer, now the Moderna study, they both had a requirement to have a certain number of COVID infections in the study population to be able to determine is the vaccine making a difference? Because, of course, everybody had the same public health recommendations. So with a large enough group and a control group, we can sort that out.

GAUDETTE: Dr. East, I wanted you to answer this question because you did bring this up earlier. And this is from Anna. And she did want to comment on our discussion about these consequences that people could be seeing. So here's her question:

LISTENER QUESTION: One of the consequences of people in Idaho not taking the appropriate COVID precautions is that many of us are unable to get elective surgeries within our insurance's deductible period. I need to have a surgery performed. I have met my deductible and total out-of-pocket for 2020, but I am unable to get my surgery done until sometime in 2021 because hospitals are not allowing non-emergency surgeries due to COVID. I will now have to pay a large amount of money yet again in order to get my surgery, even though I did everything I could to get my medical procedures done within one deductible period.

GAUDETTE: So there's that Dr. East, and then Greg also just emailed us and he said he's scheduled to have a surgery for a retinal pucker on the Monday after Thanksgiving in Meridian. But he wants to know how safe or unsafe during the pandemic is this? So if you could, you know, talk about both of these comments and questions, because this is exactly what we're starting to run into.

EAST: I'd be happy to take that sorry I had a problem with my mute there. I'll take his question first, I think. I don't know where he's having the surgery, but I can certainly speak to what the situation is at St. Al's. And I'm sure it's very similar at St. Luke's. And I would hope it's similar at any place that's still doing surgeries. You know, we have a very extensive well thought out process at the hospital for screening. Everybody who enters the hospital os screened. They're screened for symptoms. If they have symptoms, then they don't enter the hospital. Everybody who is in the hospital has a mask on. Surgical areas, people have masks on. The situation inside the hospital is a safe situation. I think if you can have your surgery done, then I would probably have the surgery done. If you have concerns about the facility where it is, you can ask them what their precautions are that they're taking for screening and for keeping their patients and their staff safe. And I would imagine that they're probably doing things similar to what are being done at our facility. So being in the hospital, I think it's a safe place because the precautions that need to be taken to stem the transmission are taken.

So the second point that that is an unforeseen consequence of having the health care system overburdened. People end up having elective procedures delayed. That's an inconvenience for them. It's a significant cost for them because of the issue of deductible. And that's certainly a price that people may be paying for this. And what I was really referring to when I mentioned that, though, the costs I'm really talking about the human toll and the limitations to provide care for people who have potentially life-threatening problems. And, you know, as I said, the resources, both of the infrastructure and the human resources that provide these services are not infinite. They're finite. And they can be exceeded. And when they're exceeded, we're going to have to go into as a state, if they are exceeded, what's referred to as crisis standards of care, which Dr. Pate had mentioned, which is essentially care rationing. And there's been work done on this at the state level and at hospital system levels. And everybody has a plan for this. It's not a plan any of us hope to implement and we certainly hope we can avoid it. And I believe that if people do what they need to do, I think it is avoidable if we continue on the current trajectory. I think there's is there's a possibility we may get to that point.

GAUDETTE: And Dr. Taylor, Carol is a faithful listener. She listens every Wednesday to our medical experts. She's curious about if we have an estimated percent of people who have recovered from COVID-19 who are long haulers. But I also know that goes into the fact that, you know, we're still going to be learning about this virus, correct, in the next months and years?

TAYLOR: Yeah, probably. I would say even more succinctly, years. I mean, it's going to be completely hard to give accurate statistics until I think enough time has gone by to a) see what the short-term effects are physiologically on the body from COVID, but b) what does it do long term? I mean, there is even just one study offhand that I can recall that I believe is an observational cohort study done on one hundred patients or so, somewhere around three months after they had had symptoms recovered from COVID and three-quarters of them had abnormalities on their heart MRI, so their cardiovascular MRI. So they already were showing symptoms or signs long term, far beyond that one two-week window of feeling, quote-unquote, sick. And to Dr. East's point, I'm imagining he sees pulmonology consequences of this just as I do. I am, by all means, not a pulmonologist, but I can say I've seen x rays six months after somebody come in that had had COVID and they were here for some other reason. They were there because they thought they had had pneumonia. They were having a new infection and sure enough on their X-rays, you could see signs of that previous COVID infection.

GAUDETTE: Wow.

Dr. Pate, Janet has this question and she says,

LISTENER QUESTION: One hears masks protect others, but masks are one-way valves. Doesn't wearing a mask around others, even if they're not wearing masks, help protect the wearer?

GAUDETTE: And I believe Dr. Pate some new information has come out exactly on this topic. Correct?

PATE: It has. I think we just keep learning more and more about the benefits of masks. I think we started out not convinced that masks would help us control this outbreak. Then we got very good information that, yes, it would. And we thought most of the benefit was of the person who was wearing the mask was to protect others. Then we got more and more information that, no, not only does wearing the mask protect others, but it actually protects you. And it may mean that you end up, if you do get infected, that you'll have a milder course of illness. And then most recently, there's been a lot of concern about airborne transmission and we still don't understand that. But there was a study come out to show that masks actually even helped decrease aerosols by 65%, which was something at least I didn't expect. Maybe Dr. East did. But I think we just keep getting more and more information about how helpful masks are to the wearer and everybody else. Of course, the optimal situation is for everybody to wear masks. And in fact, that's also what we've seen play out in schools. Schools that do not enforce the universal masking have repeatedly had large outbreaks. Those schools that enforce universal masking, even when they can't maintain distancing, which we always want them to try, but even without that, we're just not seeing much transmission in schools. And yet there's a lot of transmission in the community. And these people do show up to the schools infected, but they're getting it in the community. They're not getting in schools where everybody's wearing masks.

TAYLOR: Adding on to this and again, this is not obviously a study, but this is my personal, very passionate observation at our office. So my clinic, my home base, if you will, is out here in Twin Falls. We have a staff of probably total about 35 in our clinic. We are open 14 hours a day every single day. And we have been since the beginning of this. And of all of that time and all of the exposure that we see all day long with COVID, only one staff person got sick once. And with contact tracing we found that it was from an outside source, not us. And the only difference is we have a mask on and the patient does. We're not taking a magic pill or doing anything out of the ordinary. And none of us have been getting sick.

GAUDETTE: And I think that's good to note, too, that the Emmett School District will actually require masks starting on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Part of this goes to the fact that Gem County has seen a rolling positivity rate of almost 25%. So they are putting that in place. Going back to Dr. Pate's point about what we're seeing in schools who follow these mask mandates and recommendations.

Also, I'm curious about this question from Christina because she says:

LISTENER QUESTION: What can we do to advocate for more masks or even a mask mandate? We know those with the loud voices are risking super spreader events, while those of us who want to slow the spread will not show up in these spreader events, things like city council meetings, et cetera. Who and how can we contact to help push for public health?

GAUDETTE: Who would like to answer?

PATE: Well, I can take it Gemma. So this David Pate. So I do think that I still hold out the hope that most Idahoans are reasonable people who do care about other people. I think that just like this listener's question, we're just not making our voices heard. The people that are making their voices heard and getting the media coverage are those that are showing up in protests and so forth. I think that what we need to do is we need to use our social media platforms, letter writing, emails, phone calls, contact your elected leaders: that's mayor, city councils, county commissioners, public health districts, the governor's office, and you need to call or write and demand this and say and show them that actually, the majority of people do want this. And that's the only way we're going to get change. And then, of course, what we need to do is hold those that don't comply to not being reelected.

GAUDETTE: Dr. Pate, we have an anonymous letter listener asking this:

LISTENER QUESTION: I would like to hear what your medical experts say about the fact that there are private schools that do not require masking. How is it possible that they can do that while in a county that requires masking, Ada County, for example? And how is it likely that we can get the viral transmission under control with such a super spreader schools? Before you answer that, Dr. Pate, I do want to say not as a journalist, but as a parent whose children do go to a private school. There are private schools that have incredibly strict protocols and requirements, and I also realize there are those that do not.

PATE: Yeah, and I agree with you, Gemma, most of the private schools that I've worked with in helping with their plans actually have gone further in their preparations than a lot of public schools have been able to. So certainly I'm not familiar with a private school doing this. It's very dangerous to do this. And, you know, the point is science will catch up to you. We need only look to the White House for the evidence of this. You can deny this as long as you want. You can engage in risky behaviors as long as you want. And you will probably get away with it for some period of time. But then science catches up to you. We are getting to such high levels of community spread that what that means is the chance that someone is infected, even if they don't realize it within a large gathering of people, which is what a school is. The numbers of people that are going to be infected is just going to keep on going up and up. Statistically speaking, and when you put them in an indoor environment with other people who are susceptible and they don't wear masks, you are going to end up with clusters and then outbreaks of cases. And we certainly saw a number of schools that started out this school year when the disease activity was much less than what it is now. And they either just took the position of, well, we're just going to encourage masks like Central District Health thinks is going to work or they took no position at all. And most of those schools that I'm aware of had outbreaks had to close and came back with mask mandates. So it's just a matter of time that apparently they've had good luck so far. Their luck will run out.

GAUDETTE: And Dr. East, maybe you can take a stab at this question. It is a vaccine question that Jan sent in. She wants to know because she is at risk due to her age:

LISTENER QUESTION: Is there a difference in the vaccine that she should get? The Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine? Or do we know for sure?

EAST: I can take that. I do want to just make a comment about the previous discussion about the private schools not requiring masks. You know, I too have two children in private schools and where my children are, they have very strict standards. They've had very few cases of COVID and they've had, to my knowledge, no one who's contracted COVID from another person within a classroom setting. And I'm also aware of a private school where, you know, children brought the infection home, inoculated parents. And, you know, this has downstream ramifications. Some of those people are doctors. Yeah. They get sick. They can't come to work. And, you know, that ends up having a really significant impact. So I would just encourage the people who are running these schools to maybe rethink their policies. Because if the stance is that, you know, children are going to be fine, they're going to be healthy, you know, for the most part, that's true. We know there are rare complications that can happen with children. But, you know, they spread it to family. The family spreads it to one another. And those parents have jobs. Some of them have jobs that are critical in the response to this. And I just don't think that is a well thought out policy.

In terms of the vaccine. I don't think we know yet. You know, these are still studies that are being analyzed. I think one of the things that we can anticipate, hopefully before these vaccines are available for general distribution, that these things will hopefully be worked out in terms of who is more likely or less likely to receive more or less benefit from a given vaccine. And that's typically something that's going to be part of the analysis. And at this point, I think it's too early to know.

GAUDETTE: Dr. Taylor, as we start wrapping up today. The best piece of advice to give people right now? And I hope that they listen.

TAYLOR: I would say treat others as you would want to be treated. If you have even an iota of a chance of, for example, a mask working, you can equate that to say your child, as dramatic as it sounds, has cancer, and there is a chance that some medication may help. Wouldn't you try it? I mean, that's the same way I think about masks. If I thought about how many patients I see every day that are young, previously no problems coming in with heart attacks and they're on oxygen. And this is a possibility of slowing and stopping this from a mask, wouldn't you? So I'd say that.

GAUDETTE: You know, I so appreciate that answer, Dr. Taylor. Right. Wouldn't you just give it a chance? Thank you all. Thank you for what you are doing on the front lines every single day, for taking time out to talk to us. I hope that people are not just listening, but they are putting into practice what you are scientifically telling them, what works.

As COVID-19 cases spread through the U.S. and Idaho, we’re committed to keeping you updated and informed. You can get updated info on cases, closures and how to stay healthy at any time on our Coronavirus news blog.

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Samantha Wright is a news reporter and producer for Idaho Matters.
Gemma is the host of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show which broadcasts live Monday-Friday at noon. She is an award-winning journalist and has spent the majority of her broadcasting career in Idaho. Gemma was a television news anchor and reporter in Boise for close to 15 years. She came to Boise in 1999 to start Fox 12.