U of U doctors say increased risk of contracting COVID 19 due to wildfires

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News)— University of Utah doctors are now saying smoke and haze caused by wildfires in California and Utah are creating an increased risk for contracting COVID-19.

“Important to think about the interactions between those two risks,” Dr. Cheryl Pirozzi Pulmonologist University of Utah said. 

Although smoke and haze are moving out of our region doctors say there is still a risk. 

Last week, fires burning thousands of acres up and down California pushed large plums of smoke into The Valley. Health officials say inhaling particles from the smoke could irritate the lungs and Affect the immune system creating an increased risk for lung infections. 

“We are seeing a lot of people with underlying health disease coming in with exasperation of respiratory symptoms related to the wildfire smoke exposure,” Dr. Pirozzi said. 

Doctors say relatively healthy people are not immune.

“All people should protect themselves from smoke exposure and exposure to COVID-19,” Dr. Pirozzi said. “Wearing masks and washing hands and physical distancing. Part of social distancing for COVID we’ve encouraged people to be outside”. 

But on poor air days, doctors advise you to stay indoors and use an air filter, noting cloth masks only protect against COVID. N-95 masks protect against poor air and COVID. 

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