Ask the Doc: Answers about rapid testing, contact lenses vs. frames, face masks in public during coronavirus pandemic

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Our Lady of the Lake Physician Dr. Rani Whitfield answers your questions about rapid testing, whether you should wear contact lenses verses frames and whether to wear face masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Question: How will the enw rapid testing starting in Baton Rouge change the way we fight coronavirus

DR. WHITFIELD: It’s what we’ve all been looking for, what we’ve all been asking for. We need those results instantly to determine if people can go to work or not, and so many folks are anxious about it. There’s a lot with anxiety that people think that they are infected and may not be and there are some folks who have very mininal symptoms… I had several individuals last week that had loss of taste, loss of smell that were on the fence with it and were able to get tested and were positive for Covid-19, so again this is going to give us information and allow us to move a little faster in getting folks back to work. We’re assuming everyone’s positive, and you’ve heard the Governor say that, many of the healthcare specialists say that, that everyone should assume they’re positive, but now we’ll have an answer to that.

Question: What’s the medical guidance on whether you should wear contact lenses or frames during the coronavirus pandemic?

DR. WHITFIELD: Proper handwashing. 40 million people wear contacts or glasses in the United States, and the problem is not inherent to the contact lens themselves but its to the procedure, it’s the process, the patient is not washing their hands. So if you are washing your hands, even with your glasses, you put them down, I have an anti-bacteria wipe that I clean my glasses off. So you just have to properly wash your hands, there’s no way that everyone, especially now with many of the eye places probably closed that everyone can get glasses so those that are wearing glasses or those that are wearing contact lenses, maintain what you’re doing, but just use proper cleaning procedures.

Question: Should I be wearing a face mask when I go outside?

DR. WHITFIELD: At home, around your family, you’re with them all the time, you don’t need to cover your face, we’re supposed to be practicing social distancing, but if you need to go out for essential items and goods in the grocery stores, and it’s unavoidable, then you should have some type of covering over your face. We’re recommending tightly woven cotton is best, synthetic and polyester are not good because the virus can live for long periods of time on them. And the masks are like underwear, you change or wash them everyday, so if you wear that mask, especially healthcare providers, some are seeing 7 to 8 patients back to back that may be infected, so they have to change that mask frequently. So we’re not recommending people get the N-95’s and if you have them and they’re still packaged, donate them. But t-shirts that are very thick and tightly woven are very, very good items, you already have one at your house, a tightly woven towel so we can definitely use those to protect ourselves.

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