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Wildfire Smoke Presents Additional Challenges with Virus Pandemic

Wildfire Smoke Presents Additional Challenges with Virus Pandemic
Wildfire smoke-induced hazy sunrise in Scotts Bluff Co. (Miller/KNEB/RRN)

Public health officials say the wildfire smoke pouring into our region from the west is adding a layer of complication when it comes to the fight against COVID-19 and monitoring for symptoms.

Scotts Bluff County Health Director Paulette Schnell tells KNEB News for those with asthma, chronic bronchitis or other pre-existing respiratory issues, a cough or shortness of breath while outside may, or may not, be just from the haze in the air. “With COVID there are those other symptoms you want to think about too; headache, loss of taste or smell, a fever, you want to look at maybe some abdominal pain,” says Schnell. “Not all those all come together, but they may be added along with the cough or the respiratory that might give you some clues that it’s something more like COVID than just the smoke.”

Schnell says those who may have already been wearing a mask outdoors due to the pandemic might also get some benefit protecting their lungs from smoke particulates.

She says with the current conditions rated as unhealthy for sensitive groups in the Panhandle region, those pre-disposed to respiratory distress should consider staying inside more often and reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor activities.

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