New York if not nation should have shut down completely 2 weeks ago: Bral

Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral hosted a live question and answer session on the coronavirus via Instagram Wednesday night. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral said he was not pleased how the U.S. federal government prepared for the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world in the past month.

“If this was dealt with differently from the start, I feel we could have maybe seen the end of all this sooner,” said Bral, the director of Minimally Invasive Robotic Gynecologic Surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. “I wanted to see a complete shutdown of the country, or at least New York two weeks ago.”

Bral and Dr. Afshine Emrani, a California cardiologist, hosted a live question and answer session on Instagram on Wednesday night.  The two addressed misinformation surrounding the virus and answered questions submitted by the virtual audience of more than 475 people.

One of the myths, Bral said, that has been brought up in conversation was the use of hot water or forced heat from a hairdryer directly applied to a person’s nose or throat to kill the virus.

Bral said he does not believe this has any truth to it, and advised people to refrain from attempting those methods.

“Drinking very hot water can cause esophageal cancer as well,” Bral said. “I don’t believe this has any truth to it. People will cause further harm to themselves if they attempt that.”

“I am totally with you, I don’t think this has any validity to it, and can seriously affect a person’s health,” Emrani said. “Also, look at the countries where hot tea is most used. It’s China and Iran. Those countries continue to have cases, so this goes beyond having more tea or hot fluids.”

Bral and Emrani urged residents to practice as much patience as possible throughout this pandemic, and wait for the “proper science and medicine” to surface before trying at-home remedies.

“I get questions throughout the day from clients asking if there is a certain combination of prophylactics I could take so that I do not get infected,” Emrani said. “Could something potentially work for one specific person without underlying health issues? Maybe. Is it worth the risk if those medications cause an adverse effect? Absolutely not.”

Emrani referred to a study conducted in France about a month ago, that tested the effects of hydroxychloroquine combined with the antibiotic azithromycin on 42 patients with confirmed coronavirus cases.

While the combination caused a slight decrease in the patients’ levels of the coronavirus, Emrani said other factors must be taken into consideration before implementing the same trials in the United States.

“The sample size of the French study was not that large, and were conducted on relatively healthy people,” Emrani said. “These trials should not be rolled out for people who have a 97-99 percent survival rate.  Trials need to be conducted for those with underlying health issues.”

Bral, an obstetrician-gynecologist, said questions have been raised on if and how the virus affects pregnant women.

“In general, women who are pregnant tend to have a more vulnerable immune system,” Bral said. “From what I have seen, I don’t believe the virus passes through the placenta and into a child’s immune system because it is a respiratory virus.”

Bral referred to a March study where 12 children born via C-section in Wuhan to mothers who tested positive for the coronavirus did not show any signs of infection. According to the study, another child born via natural delivery also did not show any signs of being infected with the virus.

Bral and Emrani advised people to stay home despite holidays such as Passover and Easter on the horizon.

“Now is not the year to go out and see your relatives,” Bral said. “The main goal is for you and your family to have many more years on this earth celebrating with friends and extended family. But this year, staying home with your immediate family is the best option, I believe.”

“I completely agree,” Emrani said. “With so many people who have just asthma or had pneumonia in the past, those people are at such a higher risk than others.  Just play it safe this year and stay home.”

Both doctors addressed the collective toll the pandemic has taken on the nation’s mental health status.

“We’re at a very difficult time right now,” Bral said. “The economy has hit us, we don’t know when we can leave the house, and it’s a very confusing time right now.”

“Our character is to be social creatures, and we are being told to act in the exact opposite way,” Emrani said. “Don’t try to bear this alone.  There are resources in your town, county, and state, you can always reach out to.”


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