Home News COVID-19 Situation Doctors question efforts on COVID-19 preparedness

Doctors question efforts on COVID-19 preparedness

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Dr. Masoud Khorsand, CEO of Kymera Independent Physicians, talks at Thursday night’s Roswell City Council meeting about the type of masks he believes city first responders should be using. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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While local and state officials sought to inform and reassure the public on the city and state’s responses to the new strain of coronavirus at Thursday night’s meeting of the Roswell City Council, two local doctors questioned the accuracy of information being reported and said far more testing is needed to contain it.

Karen Sanders, Roswell/Chaves County emergency manager appeared before the council at the end of Thursday’s meeting, reading through a prepared report of the state’s response to the coronavirus and the now six confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

She included in her report the latest information, including Thursday’s announcement by the governor that all public schools are to close for three weeks beginning Monday. Roswell Independent School District’s last day of classes was Thursday, with closures beginning Friday for students and faculty, Interim Superintendent Michael Gottlieb said in a phone call on Thursday.

Locally, Sanders said, the city has taken steps in conjunction with state and federal orders, including those regarding events with large numbers of people.

“In response to this order, the city of Roswell has canceled or postponed events that will host more than 100 people in its city facilities,” Sanders said.

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In addition, travel by city employees will be managed on a case-by-case basis, she said.

Overall, she said, people should get informed and not panic.

“Remain home and self-isolate if you are sick, notify the department of health using their hotline. Please take precautionary steps to protect your individual health,” she said.

The state’s coronavirus hotline is 1-855-600-3453.

“I hope you temper fear with facts and reason, panic with patience and preparation, and uncertainty with education and information. Let’s all work together to protect our community,” she said.

But Dr. Masoud Khorsand, CEO of Kymera Independent Physicians, and Dr. Peter Jewell, a primary care physician at the same clinic, questioned whether or not the city, as well as the state and nation, are prepared to handle the pandemic.

Both had signed up to speak during the public participation of non-agenda items during the meeting, and were allowed to speak again after Sanders’ report at the request of City Councilor Steve Henderson.

Both doctors said the number of people actually infected is likely far higher than what has been reported, mostly due to the lack of testing.

“They refused to take my test today with a patient that had a fever of 101 and has had it for two weeks with a dry cough. So, sorry, but I don’t believe the statistics that we just saw,” Jewell said of the number of cases Sanders had cited from state reports.

Khorsand said, statistically, each confirmed case has to be multiplied by 30 or 40 to determine the number of people infected.

“Every two days it doubles. That’s our rate of infection in the U.S.,” Khorsand said.

He also spoke of the lack of protective gear for healthcare workers in Roswell, saying they are the first line of defense. He brought several types of masks to show what he recommended the city’s first responders should be using.

The New Mexico Department of Health publishes its latest information on COVID-19 online at http://cv.nmhealth.org/. The city will post information and links on the city website as well.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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