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Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Stephen Prescott: April 28 Update

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Dr. Stephen Prescott, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation president, answers your medical questions about coronavirus and Covid-19.

Is it possible I had COVID-19 without knowing it? How would I know, and what should I do?

In some individuals, virus symptoms are mild and cause few problems. It is possible you had the virus and did not know it. The only way to know definitively is with antibody testing, which is not widely available at this time. Many of the test kits have not yet shown reliable results. When reliable antibody testing becomes widely available, I would recommend you get tested. In the meantime, we should all behave as if we and everyone else around us might have the virus. That means continuing to practice social distancing and wearing a mask in public.

It was announced that elective surgeries could resume on April 24. Should 50+-year-old Oklahomans go ahead with elective surgeries on April 24 or wait another period of time?

This is a question to discuss with your physician because every individual is unique. Unless the procedure is critical to avoid immediate health consequences – and especially if you have underlying health issues – it may be best for you to wait a while longer. Even if you are only there for a knee replacement, you could be exposed to the virus.

How do the new rapid antibody tests work, and what can they tell us?

COVID-19 antibody tests require a blood sample to look for the presence of antibodies, the proteins that indicate previous exposure to a virus. If antibodies are present, it means your body mounted an immune response to the virus, so you know you were exposed to it at some point. If you are exposed to the virus again, your body should be able to fight it better. However, we don’t yet know if or how much protection recovered people have against reinfection from coronavirus. Antibody tests also help health officials learn more about how widespread the virus is in our population.

Is there a correlation to skin rashes and positive diagnoses of COVID-19?

Although there have been anecdotal reports of some COVID-19 patients exhibiting different kinds of skin rashes, at least of yet, there is little research to confirm a relationship between rashes and COVID-19.

As we practice social distancing, the use of telehealth has become a go-to for keeping Americans safe while receiving medical services. What is telehealth, and how is it helping doctors and hospitals deliver needed care?

Telehealth, or telemedicine, allows you to see and talk to your doctor from the safety of your home via a computer or phone. COVID-19 is very contagious, and sitting in a waiting room with people who might be infected poses a real risk to others, particularly those with underlying health issues. Telemedicine can provide peace of mind to patients without them risking infection. However, it does not work for every visit scenario. For routine care and initial screening visits when a situation arises, telemedicine can be quite effective and convenient. The healthcare providers in the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence have used telemedicine for several years to give personal attention to some patients without requiring them to come to the office, and they are using it a great deal more during this pandemic.

Related articles:
Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Stephen Prescott: April 9 Update
Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Stephen Prescott: April 2 Update
Coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Stephen Prescott: March 26 Update

AARP and the coronavirus
AARP has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older people and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent it spreading to others. AARP is compiling facts and resources about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself. We’re updating this information as rapidly as we can to ensure our AARP members have the information they need at


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