Baptist Hospital doctor says two ‘suspicious’ deaths under investigation for COVID-19

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Baptist Hospital officials are investigating two patient deaths that doctors call suspicious.

As of Friday, doctors say it’s unclear whether the deaths were due to COVID-19. They say there is still a lot to learn about the mysterious virus.

Baptist Hospital officials say as of Friday morning, they had tested more than 2,100 people in the Memphis area for COVID-19. Of those, 164 people have tested positive and around 400 tests are still pending.

“Every large city in America is going to suffer a fair amount of deaths, I’m afraid, for this,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Stephen Threlkeld.

Threlkeld said while they are working to stop the spread of coronavirus and find a treatment, there’s still a lot health professionals don’t know.

This includes whether the people who are recovering from the virus are recovering on their own through their body’s antibodies or through medication.

“We don’t know yet if the people who got hydroxychloroquine got better than other people. We’re still studying that but we really don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “The use of that drug is kind of, ‘Gosh, we hope it works,’ but we don’t know yet in any kind of controlled trial.”

Threlkeld said as they see more positive patients, they notice a variety of behavior in the virus in each patient. 

He said 80% of patients will be fine, but it’s the 20% of patients who are showing seriously ill symptoms that makes it hard to study.

“We’ve seen a wide variety of how it behaves in different individual people,” he said. “That makes it harder to systematically study what it’s doing in a population, when it doesn’t even do the same thing in two neighbors that have the same virus.”

He said health officials are going through phases of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to stopping and finding a treatment for coronavirus. 

But as of right now, he says only the future will tell.

Health officials say if you are showing symptoms or think you may have been exposed, you need to stay home and contact your local health provider for guidance.

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