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Mayo says smoking can be a risk factor for COVID-19

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If you find yourself stuck at home for several days, practicing social distancing — and you’re a smoker — this might be a good time to try and quit. 

Mayo Clinic has that message, based on studies of people in China, who became sick with COVID-19. 

Mayo physician J. Taylor Hays, based in Rochester, Minn., specializes in smoking-related illness, and says tobacco use puts the lungs at a greater risk of being damaged by germs.

Hays says smokers in China appeared to be more likely to get COVID-19 than people of similar age and health who didn’t smoke.  

In the average person, hairs in the lungs called cilia help move mucus and viruses out of the body. 

Hays says that smokers lose cilia, and “that’s a bad thing in smokers because now that mucus stays pooled in the lungs while, it no longer moves out, so the infectious particles that are trapped in the mucus actually stay in the lung.”

The doctor says vaping with e-cigarettes can cause lung problems, just as regular cigarettes can.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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