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Why does COVID-19 impact people differently? The answer is in your nose.

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:41 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - COVID-19 numbers have been down for weeks. While some hospitals like AU Health are still seeing that, others like University Hospital are actually seeing an uptick.

“Overall, we are seeing an increase in positive tests,” Dr. Ioana Chirca with University Hospital said.

That’s not exactly good news: but why now?

“Why not now? Do we know so much about this virus so to say when is the right time to have a spike and when not?”

Dr. Chirca thinks there’s been complacency with too many people ignoring or giving up on COVID-19 safety guidelines.

But the numbers continue to stay down at AU, as researchers study ways to decrease the severity of positive cases.

“Once you’ve gotten coronavirus, can we reduce the viral load enough to keep people out of the hospital,” Dr. Amy Baxter, clinical associate professor at Augusta University, said.

Dr. Baxter says the nose could explain why the virus ranges in severity with different people and in different places.

“In those countries where the disease frequency was low, they are very likely to do a type of hygiene called nasal irrigation,” Baxter said.

The severity of a case of COVID-19 is often determined by the amount of viral particles in the nose, according to AU. Research shows nasal rinses could keep the virus from spreading as fast throughout the body.

There’s several different methods that look a little strange. But it’s another possible treatment for a virus that’s still puzzling physicians.

At AU, there are five people in-patient on ventilators with COVID-19 -- the fewest since March.

“Hang in there, wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance and this will pass,” Dr. Chirca said.

Anyone age 55 and older diagnosed with COVID-19 at AU’s testing site can participate in that study. Those people have to give feedback for a few weeks on their health.

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