Q&A with local doctor on COVID-19


Kevin Davoud, Correspondent

With the pandemic approaching its third peak and experiencing the highest number of daily recorded cases last week, continuing to educate the public about the importance of practicing proper distancing and mask-wearing policies directed by the CDC is at the top of the agenda in public health. One of the main symptoms experienced by those with COVID-19 complications is infection of the lungs and difficulty breathing.

Dr. Andrew Cichelli is a local pulmonologist with 40 years of experience treating patients. He practices in East Georgia Regional Medical Center and Emanuel Medical Center in Swainsboro.

He was interviewed about COVID-19 as it pertains to college students:

What do you have to say about college students that believe COVID-19 does not affect them?

“Interesting question…because they’re correct. It doesn’t affect them, but it does affect society,” Cichelli said. “When they get the disease, they become vectors. So as much as they may not get sick themselves…there are still many people who have a high incidence of death. People have comorbid conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or immunosuppression.”

“For example, if a college student visits their family while carrying COVID-19 and passes it on to their sibling who goes to an older relative’s house…these people will be infected. That’s the problem with this disease.”

Have you treated patients who are around 18-22 years old?

“I’ve had maybe 5 or 10,” Cichelli said. “Some of them got sick, but none required the hospital.”

“Now when it comes to people in their 20s and 30s, several have required hospitalization even though that is a group that theoretically shouldn’t need it.”

“It seems that most of them are asymptomatic. That’s good news for them but very bad news for everyone else because that’s how it gets spread.”

What is your ultimate recommendation for Georgia Southern Students to not spread the disease?

“It’s actually the same thing they should have been doing for the last 50 to 70 years for the flu.”

“You should mainly do handwashing, and if you feel sick you have to cover your face and        quarantine yourself. After all, COVID is spread by aerosolized germs that come out of your nose and mouth.”

What’s the bottom line?

Dr. Cichelli put it this way: “If you go to a party with 30 people and don’t practice social distancing, quarantine yourself to avoid hurting other people.”