By Raetta Holdman

DENVER (CBS4) – It’s a bad combination, the coronavirus pandemic and smoke from Colorado’s wildfires. That’s the first question CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida tackled in his weekly Q&A session on CBSN Denver. Does that smoke make all of us more susceptible to COVID-19?

(credit: CBS)

Dr. Dave said people who are in the hospital with coronavirus likely won’t notice the smoke because hospitals have very, very good filtration systems.

“If you have COVID and you’re well enough to be at home, definitely you don’t want to be venturing outside,” he said. “If you are asympomatic with COVID and are staying at home, the one thing you do not want to do is go outside because even though you may not be having symptoms now, the particulates that are in wildfire smoke can wind up putting you in a position where you are in the hospital.”

As for people who are not sick, does the wildfire smoke make them more prone to catching COVID-19?

“We really don’t know,” Dr. Dave said. “This is the first time in history we’ve ever had to think about wildfires and COVID. At the same time, we do know that smoke winds up increasing your susceptibility to catching COVID.”

“We know that smoking is a risk factor, so is vaping, we recommend everyone be very cautious with spending time outdoors when the air quality is poor.”

Haze in Denver over the weekend from wildfires in other parts of the state. (credit: CBS)

Dr. Dave warned not to count on a mask to keep your lungs safe.

He also addressed growing concerns about the impact of coronavirus on our hearts, pointing to a recent study that looked at people who did not get very sick and recovered, they were generally on the younger side.

“When they did heart MRIs just to take a look at how these folks were doing and found 70%, seven out of 10, wind up having evidence of some sort of underlying cardiac muscle scar tissue or some sort of damage. Most people didn’t even know it.”

Dr. Dave said that means if you have had COVID-19, even without symptoms, you need to make sure to be talking to your doctor now and in the future about heart follow-ups.

And finally, he addressed Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to extend the state mask mandate. He supports the decision.

“Take a look at numbers, we’re doing pretty well here in Colorado compared to the rest of the country,” he pointed out. “We’re in the lower 10 when it comes to COVID case. Hospitalizations are downward.”

“We’re actually doing really well. Why is that? A big part of that successful equation is wearing a mask. Now you’re having people saying, ‘Well, we’re doing well. And maybe we don’t need the mask or maybe we can be relaxing some of the restrictions that we have.'”

Dr. Dave said that’s a dangerous train of thought because masks are playing a key role in our trends and schools opening will be a big test if Colorado can stay on track in limiting the spread of coronavirus.

We know new developments in the pandemic mean you have new questions. Dr. Dave joins us every Monday morning at 11 to answer those questions on CBSN Denver.

Raetta Holdman

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