Dr. Neale Chumbler Explains the Impact of COVID-19 within our Community

By Jordan Miller

With the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic evolving every day, ntTV spoke with Dr. Neale Chumbler, the Dean of UNT’s College of Health and Public Service, to get a more comprehensive understanding of the situation. Dr. Chumbler is an expert in the field of health services research and a renowned professor here at UNT. Over Zoom, Dr. Chumbler explained several basic aspects of the situation as well as clarified, or rather debunked, some of the more popular talking points from the news.

Firstly, Dr. Chumbler commented on how, despite the fact that many young people feel relatively invincible to the disease, this is certainly the wrong mind set to have. “At first, you might recall that the information that came out was that [the coronavirus] mostly only affected older individuals . . . but what we have found is that all age groups are contracting the virus and all age groups are able to pass the virus on.” The highly contagious nature of the disease paired with the refusal of some to quarantine themselves is what allows the virus to persist. “Even in the DFW metroplex there are a lot of individuals in their 20’s and 30’s with confirmed cases of COVID-19,” Chumbler stated. “It hits all age groups and all age groups are experiencing the same symptoms.” Those symptoms, shortness of breath, fever, and upper respiratory infection, can easily be mistaken for a common cold or the flu. That is why, in Dr. Chumbler’s opinion, the importance of having access to testing services cannot be overstated. However, testing is not accessible to everyone. “In an ideal circumstance, I could have no symptoms but I should be able to go to my primary care physician and get tested right now but we don’t have enough tests . . . so they would save it for someone who has a high fever or certain chronic health conditions.” Even with access to the test, those who are confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus may not be receiving much help to combat the disease. “That’s the challenge with this virus right now is that there are no drugs to work against it. With the common flu, the good thing is that TAMAFLU has been tested and is safe to use with patients, but this is not the common flu.” With all of that in mind and the number of confirmed cases rising by the day, flattening the curve seems like a daunting task. However, there are ways for every individual to effectively combat the virus. “We have to slow the spread of the disease,” Dr. Chumbler said. “This is what’s interesting about this unfortunate disease. Each and every one of us can improve it. The way we can improve is staying at home and limiting going out and about in the community.” By practicing social distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and limiting unnecessary trips away from home, everyone can aid in the effort to curb this health crisis. It is everyone’s responsibility to help slow transmission as much as possible, and with a little consistency the crisis may take a turn for the better. By following government recommendations, everyone can do their part to keep communities safe and healthy.