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Medical experts join in Fitzpatrick “telephone town hall”


With a panel of medical experts on the line, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-01) held a telephone town hall Sunday night to discuss the coronavirus with invited constituent callers.

For about 75 minutes, four doctors responded to questions ranging from whether pets can transmit the virus (reports to date have found they cannot), to how long it stays on doorknobs and elevator buttons. On this point, the panel said it’s still unclear how long the virus remains alive on surfaces, so they advised people to pull a shirt or jacket sleeve over their hands, or wear gloves.

And, they reiterated the need to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others, stay home as much as possible and continue frequent handwashing. Those most at risk are those 65 and over with underlying health conditions, but those who are not in that group can transmit the virus to them and should avoid contact with them, experts cautioned.

The doctors said they have not yet seen community spread of COVID-19 in Bucks County. They also noted that buying masks will not help the general public. Soap and water is best for handwashing, with hand sanitizer second on the list. Use hand sanitizers that have at least 60 percent alcohol, the physicians said.

“They answered as many questions on as many aspects of the health crisis, as possible,” said Will Kiley, Fitzpatrick’s press secretary. “More clarity is expected as more is understood about the coronavirus,” he added.

Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department; Dr. Michael Goodyear, an emergency room physician at Doylestown Health; Dr. Larry Brilliant, president of St. Mary Medical Center; Dr. Ron Goren, an infectious disease specialist at St. Mary, participated in the call. Fitzpatrick holds the telephone “town halls” monthly, although lawmakers are typically not allowed to do so within 90 days of an election. Exceptions have been made, however, due to the national emergency, officials said.