MARSHALL (KMHL) – Frustration is growing in the public over the unknowns around COVID-19.

One day there’s a report saying those who have the virus but are asymptomatic can spread it, the next day there’s a report that says they can’t. One day, face masks prevent the virus, the next day they don’t, and there is a lot that remains unknown about why the virus affects people so differently.

Avera Marshall Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Meister admits there is a lot the medical community doesn’t know about COVID-19, and he says there are some things that will just take time to learn. He says the question of asymptomatic spread of the virus is a particularly difficult one for researchers.

“How do you run an experiment on asymptomatic spread,” said Meister. “It’s not ethical to take somebody whose known to have the virus and expose a whole bunch of people, because again with this virus we just don’t know. We don’t know who is going to get really sick.”

While there is much unknown about the virus, Mesiter says there are risk factors and trends that are starting to emerge. One trend he points to is that it appears face masks are effective in helping stop the virus from spreading to others.

Meister says they are also starting to learn more about certain risk factors that are emerging. In addition to age, he says other risk factors that impact how COVID-19 affects someone are things like obesity and smoking.

“It’s not 100 percent, and there are no absolutes, but it is looking like obesity and smoking and especially those two combined really puts you at risk for this virus,” said Mesiter.

Mesiter says if anything good has come from the virus, he says people are starting exercise more and take care of themselves more. He adds that he sees many more people out walking and said that is fantastic.