Duke doctor encouraged by President-elect Biden's COVID-19 response team, urges caution for Thanksgiving

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Emergency room physician Dr. John Purakal is encouraged after hearing about the team President-elect Biden has put together for a COVID-19 response.

Purakal is pleased the team includes leaders in science: from immunology to virology to public health.

"We need leadership that takes into account the scientists and regroups and says 'Okay what are the mistakes we've made over the last 8 months? What has the technology, what has the medicine shown us?'" he said. "Let's get everyone on the same page in terms of what we can do from social distancing standpoint."

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Dr. Purakal is an emergency room physician at Duke University Hospital.

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He said he's also concerned about the hospitalization numbers. He said they're seeing an increased volume in their waiting rooms and he knows other hospitals around the country are seeing the same.

Dr. Purakal said it's taken a toll on people inside the hospital: from doctors to nurses to janitorial staff.

"It wears you down after a while," Purakal said. "Having to approach every patient as if this is a possible vector for the disease and 'Am I being careful enough and wearing the appropriate PPE?' It's not going to be long before there's no community that isn't affected by this. Our numbers in rural North Carolina have been going up steadily over the past few months. It's not going to be long before everyone knows someone who has gotten this."

Dr. Purakal has been critical of President Trump's handling of the virus.

"It seems to me he has spent more time over the last seven to eight months looking at the electoral college map than maybe the COVID outbreak map," he said.

Dr. Purakal is also urging caution as the Thanksgiving season approaches. He said to avoid family family gatherings with anyone not in your household. If you do plan to get together, try and eat outdoors. If not, get a COVID-19 test the week before and practice the 3 W's. He said to try and do as much of your Black Friday shopping online.

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"Maybe the fact that it is spreading so wildly will open some people's eyes and people will take it more seriously," Purakal said.
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