Smart Talk Thursday: Sec of Health Levine talks COVID; Pre-existing conditions raise mortality risk; F&M poll

Coronavirus cases are rising across the country and the case numbers in Pennsylvania are spiking, as well. On Tuesday, the state set a new single-day high of 2,751 new positive cases.

Health officials warn that this is the predicted fall surge and that the numbers will likely continue to rise. Attention is now focused on curbing the spread by limiting gatherings and encouraging face masks and social distancing.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, MD., recommends rethinking holiday gatherings this year. Levine appears on Smart Talk Thursday to discuss this and other tactics to stem the spread.

As the world continues to battle the Coronavirus the risks and complications have become clearer.

A patients risk of dying from the virus can increase significantly as a result of pre-existing medical conditions. This is not new information, but rather knowledge that has been validated by a large, international study of COVID-19 patients.

The research findings indicate that chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, stroke and cancer can increase a patient’s risk of dying from the virus by as much as three times that of patients without any pre-existing conditions.

Penn State College of Medicine researchers participated in the study. Joining Smart Talk to discuss their findings and answer COVID-19 related questions are Dr. Paddy Ssentongo, MD, epidemiology doctoral student at the Penn State College of Medicine and research assistant professor in Penn State’s Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

Assisting with the study and also joining the conversation is Anna Ssentongo, MPH, Doctor of Public Health candidate and research scientist in the department of trauma at Penn State College of Medicine.

Finally, analysis of the latest Franklin and Marshall College poll before Election Day with G. Terry Madonna, Ph.D., Director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll and Professor of Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College.

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