EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Every week, ABC-7 anchor Mauricio Casillas will speak to Dr. Edward Michelson. Dr. Michelson is the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
Here's the Q&A for Feb. 25:
Mauricio Casillas (KVIA): How has this past week gone for you?
Dr. Edward Michelson (Chairman, Dept. of Emergency medicine TTUHSC El Paso): "This has been a very good week. We're very fortunate that El Pasoans continue to get the vaccine at a rate higher than the rest of Texas."
Casillas: Can hospitals handle the current number of patients?
Dr. Michelson: "Hospitals can handle the current number of patients. But, it's a little concerning that the numbers are not going down like in the rest of Texas. For the last five or six weeks, we've been staying around 400 patients in hospital here in El Paso. While the rest of Texas has dropped about 65%."
Casillas: What should people at home be doing right now?
Dr. Michelson: "We know that the vaccine protects us from getting ill if we're exposed to Covid-19. What we don't know is whether the vaccine will also prevent us from acquiring and spreading germs. A number of people with Covid-19 are asymptomatic. It's possible that if you don't wear your mask, you could take up Covid-19 in your nose and spread it to someone non-vaccinated. Even if you don't feel sick at all."
Casillas: What is the most eye-opening thing you’ve seen this week?
Dr. Michelson: "We're now getting much closer to getting a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. The FDA has indicated that they believe the J&J vaccine meets emergency use authorization. The process now has to play out. I'm hopeful that within the next 10 days, we'll have a third vaccine."
Casillas: What is your prediction for next week?
Dr. Michelson: "I hope that we have a drop in our hospital numbers. The number of people testing positive is staying low. It's been under seven percent for two weeks. I'd like to see that go even lower."
Casillas: What is giving you hope at this time?
Dr. Michelson: "I get a lot of hope from increasing numbers of patients receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. We know that both Moderna and Pfizer are going to be able to ship even more doses than they have so far. Plus within a few weeks, I hope we'll have the J&J vaccine as well."
Casillas: What is your message to the Borderland?
Dr. Michelson: "We know that people are doing well with the vaccine. If they have a reaction, typically it's only a mild one. It's very temporary. The benefits of the vaccine far out weigh any small, temporary effects people might experience."