Q&A: How long will we have to keep wearing masks?

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What is aerosolized spread? What’s the difference between aerosols and droplets?

Aerosolized spread is the potential for coronavirus to spread not just by respiratory droplets, but by even smaller particles called aerosols that can float in the air longer than droplets and can spread farther than 6 feet.

Respiratory aerosols and droplets are released when someone talks, breaths, sings, sneezes or coughs. But the main difference is size.

Respiratory droplets are bigger – between 5 and 10 microns in diameter. (For perspective, a human hair is typically 60 to 120 microns wide.)

“If you have droplets that come out of a person, they generally go down within 6 feet,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But aerosols (aka droplet nuclei) are smaller – less than 5 microns in diameter, according to the World Health Organization.

“Aerosol means the droplets don’t drop immediately,” Fauci said. “They hang around for a period of time.”

This becomes “very relevant” when you are indoors and there is poor ventilation, he said.

There’s good enough data to say that aerosol transmission [of coronavirus] does occur,” Fauci said

Multiple case studies suggest coronavirus can spread well beyond 6 feet through airborne transmission, such as during choir practices, said Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer of Providence Health System.

In Washington state, for example, 53 members of a choir fell sick and two people died after one member attended rehearsals and later tested positive for Covid-19.

In July, 239 scientists backed a letter urging public health agencies to recognize the potential for aerosolized spread.

“There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets (microdroplets) at short to medium distances (up to several meters, or room scale), and we are advocating for the use of preventive measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission,” the letter said.

Fauci said there’s an easy way to help minimize the risk: “Wear the mask.”

The CDC says face masks should have two or more layers of breathable fabric.

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Could I have the flu and coronavirus at the same time? If so, what does that do to your body?

“You can certainly get both the flu and Covid-19 at the same time, which could be catastrophic to your immune system,” said Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a family medicine physician in Florida.

In fact, getting infected with one can make you more vulnerable to getting sick with the other, epidemiologist Dr. Seema Yasmin said.

“Once you get infected with the flu and some other respiratory viruses, it weakens your body,” she said. “Your defenses go down, and it makes you vulnerable to getting a second infection on top of that.”

On their own, both Covid-19 and the flu can attack the lungs, potentially causing pneumonia, fluid in the lungs or respiratory failure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

“The two (illnesses) together definitely could be more injurious to the lungs and cause more respiratory failure,” said Dr. Michael Matthay, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

And just like with Covid-19, even young, healthy people can die from the flu.

The good news is there are easy ways to help avoid a flu/Covid-19 double whammy: get a flu vaccine, stay 6 feet away from anyone outside your household, and wear a face mask anytime you might be in close contact with others.

The precautions you take against Covid-19 can “doubly protect us from both of those viruses,” Yasmin said.

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How can I tell if I have coronavirus or the flu (or both)?

Both the flu and Covid-19 can give you a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, body aches and a runny or stuffy nose, the CDC said.

“Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults,” the CDC said.

But unlike the flu, Covid-19 can cause a loss of taste or smell.

And about half of coronavirus transmissions happen before any symptoms show up. (Many of those people spreading the virus silently are pre-symptomatic and are more contagious before they start showing symptoms.)

So the best way to know if you have the novel coronavirus or the flu (or both) is to get tested. The CDC has created a test that will check for both viruses, to be used at CDC-supported public health labs.

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How long will we have to keep wearing masks?

Possibly into next year — but for good reason.

“These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said in mid-September. “If we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks, we’d bring this pandemic under control.”

But a vaccine probably won’t be widely available until mid-2021, Redfield said.

Even then, “as we go through the vaccination period … we still need to use masks,” said Dr. Eric Topel, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

“Remember that vaccines don’t render mucosal immunity — that is, you still could harbor the virus. It protects from the illness. So we could actually get more carriers in the vaccination phase. And a lot of people don’t recognize this.”

If virtually everyone wears face masks and keeps a safe distance from others, more than 122,000 lives could be saved in the US by January 2021, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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What should I do if I’m wearing a mask but have to sneeze?

If there are tissues nearby, you can take your mask off and sneeze into the tissue before putting your mask back on, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

For kids in school — or anyone else who might have to wear a mask all day — bring a backup mask in a baggie in case the first mask gets dirty. You can put the dirty mask in the baggie.

It’s also a good idea to keep backup masks in your car in case of any mask accidents.

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Since there are multiple vaccines in trials, what happens if you get a vaccine ASAP, but a more effective one comes out later? Can you get more than one Covid-19 vaccine?

It’s too early to say for sure with Covid-19 vaccines, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

“But that’s certainly plausible,” Collins said. “Look at where we are with shingles right now, where we had a vaccine that was pretty good, and then there was one that was a lot better, and everybody took both.”

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If a pregnant woman gets Covid-19, will her baby be infected? Can babies get coronavirus through breastfeeding?

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What are the guidelines for riding in a vehicle with someone from another household?

People from different households riding in a car together should wear face masks, said Dr. Aaron Hamilton of the Cleveland Clinic.

“You should also wear one if you’re rolling down your window to interact with someone at a drive-thru or curbside pickup location,” Hamilton said.

It’s also smart to keep the windows open to help ventilate the car and add another layer of safety, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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My kid hates the idea of nasal swabs. Is there a saliva test for Covid-19?

The SalivaDirect test could soon be a fast and cheap option. “We simplified the test so that it only costs a couple of dollars for reagents, and we expect that labs will only charge about $10 per sample,” said Nathan Grubaugh, one of the Yale researchers who developed the test.

The SalivaDirect test can produce results in less than three hours, and the accuracy is on par with results from traditional nasal swabbing. The Yale researchers said it might become publicly available in the coming weeks.

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Is it true a vaccine could be approved and sent out before it’s fully tested?

Not exactly. It’s possible the Food and Drug Administration could give an emergency use authorization — not an approval — for an experimental Covid-19 vaccine before its Phase 3 trial is complete.

At least three coronavirus vaccines are in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States. Phase 3 is often the last phase of vaccine development, when thousands of volunteers are injected and monitored to further check for safety and efficacy.

But the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board could stop a trial early if the interim results are overwhelmingly positive and board members deem the vaccine safe and effective. In that case, researchers would have “a moral obligation” to end the trial early and speed up the process to give the vaccine to millions, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Kaiser Health News.

“If you look at the projection, of the enrollment (of trial participants) and the kinds of things you’ll need to get a decision about whether the vaccine is safe and effective, most of us project that that’s going to be by November, December, by the end of the year,” Fauci told CNN.

“Could this be earlier? Sure,” he said. “That’s unlikely, (but) not impossible.”

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Can you get Covid-19 more than once? Or does a person have long-term immunity to coronavirus?

Researchers say a 33-year-old man in Hong Kong might be the first known person to get Covid-19 twice.

The man first tested positive on March 26 and had symptoms such as fever, headache and cough. Almost five months later, while returning from Europe on August 15, the man tested positive at the Hong Kong airport — though he did not have symptoms that time.

“This case illustrates that re-infection can occur even just after a few months of recovery from the first infection,” researchers from the University of Hong Kong wrote. “Our findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in humans, as is the case for other common-cold associated human coronaviruses, even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection or via vaccination.”

This new coronavirus is one of seven coronaviruses that have been known to infect humans — including SARS, MERS, and some that are linked to the common cold.

It’s too early to say whether some people might get long-term immunity with the new coronavirus. But with “common cold coronaviruses, you don’t actually have immunity that lasts for very long,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the New York University School of Medicine. “We don’t know the answer with this specific coronavirus.”

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Can someone who died from coronavirus still have their organs donated?

That’s not recommended right now, according to the US Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

“This guidance may change as more becomes known about the course and treatment of COVID-19,” the network said.

“Donation and transplant clinicians should apply their medical judgment in instances where test results are pending at the time of organ offers.”

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Are coronavirus and Covid-19 the same thing? How did they get their names?

Coronavirus and Covid-19 are not the same thing, but sometimes the terms can be used interchangeably.

This “novel coronavirus” is novel because it just emerged in humans in late 2019. There have been six other coronaviruses known to infect humans, such as SARS (circa 2003) and MERS (circa 2012).

“Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface,” or coronas, the CDC says. The scientific name for this novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, which stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.”

Covid-19, however, is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The letters and numbers in “Covid-19” come from “Coronavirus disease 2019.”

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Should we clean our cell phones daily?

Yes, that’s a good idea because cell phones are basically “petri dishes in our pockets” when you think about how many surfaces you touch before touching your phone.

You should regularly disinfect your mobile phone anyway, with or without a coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s probably quite a lot of microorganisms on there, because you’re holding them against your skin, you are handling them all the time, and also you’re speaking into them,” said Mark Fielder, a professor of medical microbiology at Kingston University.

“And speaking does release droplets of water just in normal speech. So it’s likely that a range of microbes – including Covid-19, should you happen to be infected with that virus – might end up on your phone.”

Watch the best ways to disinfect your cell phone here.

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Is it true that minorities are at higher risk of getting Covid-19 or dying from it?

Yes. While Black people make up 13% of the US population, they represent about 25% of the Covid-19 cases in the US, said CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

The mortality rate for Black people is 2.3 times higher than for White people with Covid-19. And in one recent study, 46.4% of Hispanic children tested had Covid-19, compared to 30% of Black children tested and 7.3% of White children tested.

Black and Latinx people are often more likely to have essential jobs that require them to work outside the home, leading to more contact with the public, former CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

And those who rely on public transportation or live in multi-generational housing can be more vulnerable to the virus’ spread.

The disproportionate impact on people of color is one big reason why health experts are asking more minorities to volunteer for vaccine trials.

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What “underlying conditions” put people at higher risk of bad outcomes with Covid-19?

More than 40% of US adults have at least one underlying condition that can put them at higher risk of severe complications, according to the CDC.

Those conditions include obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, according to the CDC.

People who have cancer, an organ transplant, sickle cell anemia, poorly controlled HIV or any autoimmune disorder are also at higher risk.

Covid-19 patients with pre-existing conditions — regardless of their age — are 6 times more likely to hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die from the disease than those who had no pre-existing conditions, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

While young, healthy people are less likely to die from Covid-19, many are suffering long-term effects from the disease.

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How much will a coronavirus vaccine cost?

Moderna, the first company to start Phase 3 clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine in the US, estimates a price tag of under $40 per dose for most customers.

“We are working with governments around the world and others to ensure the vaccine is accessible regardless of ability to pay,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said. ‘

The World Health Organization said dozens of vaccines worldwide are in human trials. But many of the vaccine makers have not publicly released estimates of how much the vaccines would cost, if the trials are successful.

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What are the long-term effects of coronavirus?

Some Covid-19 survivors have reported a variety of problems weeks or months after testing positive.

Even young adults have suffered long-lasting symptoms such as shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, brain fog, long-term fever, coughing, memory loss, and the inability to taste or smell.

One CDC study found 35% of survivors surveyed still had symptoms two to three weeks after their coronavirus tests:

  • In the 18-to-34 age group, 26% said they still had symptoms weeks later.
  • In the 35-to-49 age range, 32% were still grappling with the effects weeks later.
  • For those 50 and older, 47% said they still had symptoms weeks later.

And the risk of death from coronavirus-related heart damage seems to be far greater than previously thought, the American Heart Association said.

Inflammation of the vascular system and injury to the heart occur in 20% to 30% of hospitalized Covid-19 patients and contribute to 40% of deaths, the AHA said. AHA President Dr. Mitchell Elkind said cardiac complications of Covid-19 could linger after recovering from coronavirus.

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I tested positive for coronavirus weeks ago. How long are people contagious with Covid-19? Do I need to keep isolating or getting retested?

For symptomatic carriers: If it’s been at least 10 days since your symptoms started and at least 24 hours since you’ve had a fever (without the help of fever-reducing medication) and your other symptoms have improved, you can go ahead and stop isolating, the CDC says.

Patients with severe illness may have to keep isolating for up to 20 days after symptoms started.

(But it’s important to note symptoms typically don’t show up until several days after infection — and you can be more contagious during this pre-symptomatic time. Also, symptoms can last for weeks or months — including in young people.)

For asymptomatic carriers: People who tested positive but don’t have any symptoms can stop isolating 10 days after the first positive test – as long as they have not subsequently developed symptoms, the CDC says.

But 10 days is just a general guideline: “Because symptoms cannot be used to gauge where these individuals are in the course of their illness, it is possible that the duration of viral shedding could be longer or shorter than 10 days after their first positive test,” the CDC warned. With viral shedding, a person can infect others with the virus, even if they have no symptoms.

Asymptomatic carriers who have tested positive can also stop isolating if they get two negative test results from tests taken more than 24 hours apart. At that point, it’s very unlikely they are still contagious.

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Is it safe to go back to the gym?

There are definitely risks, but also steps you and the gym can take to help minimize the risks.

Coronavirus often spreads more easily indoors rather than outdoors — especially if you’re indoors for an extended period of time.

Researchers have also found that heavy breathing and singing can propel aerosolized viral particles farther and increase the risk of transmission.

During one fitness instructor workshop, about 30 participants with no symptoms trained intensely for four hours, according to research published by the CDC. Eight participants later tested positive, and more than 100 new cases of coronavirus were traced back to that fitness workshop.

To help mitigate the risk, many gyms are now limiting capacity. Some are providing members with disinfectant sprays to sanitize equipment.

While health experts have recommended staying 6 feet away from others, it’s smart to keep even more distance than that at the gym.

“With all the heavy breathing, you may even want to double the usual 6 feet to 12 feet, just to be safe,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

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This isolation is taking a toll on my mental health, and I’m starting to feel depressed and anxious about the pandemic. How can I get help?

The Crisis Text Line is available texting to 741741. Trained volunteers and crisis counselors are staffed 24/7, and the service is free.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

For health care professionals and essential workers, For the Frontlines offers free 24/7 crisis counseling and support for workers dealing with stress, anxiety, fear or isolation related to coronavirus.

For more resources, check out CNN’s guide to giving and getting help during the pandemic.

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I heard you can get Covid-19 through your eyes. Should we wear goggles, too?

Doctors say wearing eye protection (in addition to face masks) could certainly help some people, but it’s not necessary for everyone.

Teachers who have younger students in the classroom are “likely to be in environments where children might pull down their masks, or not be very compliant with them,” epidemiologist Saskia Popescu said. “There is concern that you could get respiratory droplets in the eyes.”

If you’re a health care worker or taking care of someone at home who has coronavirus, it’s smart to wear eye protection, said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

(Note: Regular glasses or sunglasses aren’t enough, because they leave too many gaps around the eyes.)

But if you’re not in a high-risk situation — and you’re very strict about wearing face masks and staying 6 feet away from others – wearing goggles isn’t necessary.

While it’s still possible to get Covid-19 through the eyes, that scenario is less likely than getting it through your nose or mouth, Steinemann said.

He said if a significant number of people were getting coronavirus through their eyes, doctors would probably see more Covid-19 patients with conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye (though having pink eye doesn’t necessarily mean you have coronavirus).

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Should people wear face shields instead of (or in addition to) face masks?

The CDC does not recommend using plastic face shields for everyday activities or as a substitute for face masks. There are a few exceptions, such as for those who are hearing-impaired and rely on on lip-reading or those who have physical or mental health conditions that would be exacerbated by wearing a cloth face mask.

“Cloth face coverings are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult,” the CDC says.

Clinical and laboratory studies show cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth – what the CDC refers to as “source control.” And many people are contagious even when they don’t have any symptoms and don’t know they’re infected.

Face shields worn in addition to masks can provide an added layer of protection and can also help people stop touching their faces. Workers who are around people for long periods of time, such as grocery store workers or hospital personnel, may want to wear face shields in addition to masks, to increase their protection.

If someone must use a face shield without a mask, the CDC says the shield “should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.”

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Is it safe to go on vacation?

It depends on how careful you are.

While some parts of the country have more cases of Covid-19 than others, “I think even more important than where someone goes is what they do when they go there,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

“Much like even when you’re at home, if you are essentially controlling your environment, not going out into public places with large crowds, you’re wearing a face mask, you’re washing your hands, you can go on vacation safely,” he said.

“I think certainly flying on planes is a little less safe than driving,” Thomas said. “But it’s really what you do when you go there. If you’re going to bars and restaurants, not wearing a mask, going out with large crowds … you’re going to potentially come home with the virus.”

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Is it true that kids aren’t big spreaders of coronavirus? How much do children get Covid-19?

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My kids don’t want to wear a mask. What should I do?

Children can be more reluctant because they’re more sensitive to new things than adults are, said Christopher Willard, a psychiatry lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

“There’s also the weird psychological aspect of not being able to see their own face or other people’s faces and facial expressions,” which can hinder their feelings of comfort or safety, he said.

To ease their mask fears, try buying or making masks with fun designs on them. Or have your child customize his or her own masks by drawing on them with markers.

You can also order children’s face masks with superheroes on them or show your kids photos of their favorite celebrities wearing masks.

It’s also important to set a good example by wearing a mask yourself. Show your children your own mask, and let them know that by wearing one, they’ll be just like Mom or Dad.

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Is it safe to get a flu shot in the fall?

Yes. And please do so, doctors say.

This year, it’s “more important than ever to get a flu shot because we will almost certainly face the double whammy of flu season coinciding the same time as surging cases of COVID-19,” emergency room physician Dr. Leana Wen said.

And a flu/coronavirus double whammy could be disastrous if it overwhelms the healthcare system. An estimated 410,000 to 740,000 Americans were hospitalized with the flu this past flu season, from October to April, according to the CDC.

Wen said the flu shot is about 40% to 60% effective. But even if you do get the flu after having been vaccinated, the flu shot “still reduces your chance of having severe effects from the flu.”

You also want to avoid having a personal double whammy of getting both the flu and Covid-19. And yes, it is possible to have both at the same time.

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How do I prevent my glasses or sunglasses from fogging up when I wear a mask?

First, make sure the top of your mask fits snugly against your skin (to minimize vapor from your breath from going up toward your eyes). Then put your glasses over the snug-fitting top portion of your mask.

If that doesn’t do the trick, soap and water can create a barrier that prevents glasses from fogging up. Here’s how.

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Are cancer patients at higher risk of severe complications from Covid-19?

Yes. And the increased risk applies to cancer patients of all ages, the CDC says.

“Having cancer currently increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” the CDC says. “At this time, it is not known whether having a history of cancer increases your risk.”

Researchers found that patients whose cancer was getting worse or spreading were more than five times more likely to die in a month if they caught Covid-19.

But there are steps cancer patients can take to stay as healthy as possible:

  • Make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your medications.
  • Don’t delay any life-saving treatment or emergency care during this pandemic.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about your individual level of risk based on your condition, your treatment, and the level of transmission in your community.
  • Don’t stop taking your medicines or alter your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you think you may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
  • Read the CDC’s tips for preventing infections in cancer patients.

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Can central air conditioning spread Covid-19 in public places?

Technically, it can, but HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) systems are not thought to be a significant factor in the spread of coronavirus.

Many modern air conditioning systems will either filter out or dilute the virus. Ventilation systems with highly effective filters are a key way to eliminate droplets from the air, said Harvard environmental health researcher Joseph Gardner Allen.

Filters are rated by a MERV system – their “minimum efficiency reporting value” that specifies their ability to trap tiny particles. The MERV ratings go from 1 to 20. The higher the number, the better the filtration.

HEPA filters have the highest MERV ratings, between 17 and 20. HEPA filters are used by hospitals to create sterile rooms for surgeries and to control infectious diseases. They’re able to remove 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.

For context, this new coronavirus is thought to be between 0.06 to 1.4 microns in size.

But “HEPA filtration is not always going to be feasible or practical,” Allen said. “But there are other filters that can do the job. What is recommended now by the standard setting body for HVAC is a MERV 13 filter.”

High-efficiency filters in the 13-to-16 MERV range are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, research labs and other places where filtration is important.

“If you’re an owner of a home, building or mall, you want to have someone to assess your system and install the largest MERV number filter the system can reliably handle without dropping the volume of air that runs through it,” advised Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“In addition, virtually all modern air conditioning systems in commercial buildings have a process called makeup air where they bring in air from outside and condition it and bring it inside,” Bromage said. “It’s worse in regards to energy, but the more outside air we bring in, the more dilution of the virus we have and then the safer you are.”

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What does asymptomatic mean?

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How effective are different types of face masks? Which cloth masks work the best?

Different types have different levels of effectiveness, according to researchers at Florida Atlantic University.

They compared four types of face masks commonly used by the public: a stitched mask with two layers of fabric, a commercial cone mask, a folded handkerchief, and a bandana. Researchers tested each to see which would likely offer the most protection if someone coughed or sneezed.

— The stitched mask with two layers of fabric performed the best, with droplets traveling only 2.5 inches.

— With a cone-style mask, the droplets traveled about 8 inches.

— A folded handkerchief performed worse, with droplets traveling 1 foot, 3 inches.

— The bandana gave the least amount of protection of the cloth masks tested, with droplets traveling 3 feet.

— Still, any kind of cloth mask is better than none, the researchers found. Without any covering, droplets were able to travel 8 feet.

“People need to know that wearing masks can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as 50%, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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Do I still need to quarantine for 14 days after returning from travel?

If you traveled internationally, the CDC says you should stay home for 14 days after returning home. During those 14 days, be sure to take these steps:

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer twice a day and monitor for a fever. You can use this temperature log to monitor your temperature. And watch for coughing or trouble breathing.
  2. Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school.
  3. Do not use public transportation, taxis, or ride-share services.
  4. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

If you traveled domestically, it depends on the state. Some state or local governments require those who have recently traveled to stay home for 14 days. Covid-19 cases and deaths have been reported in all 50 states, and the situation is constantly changing.

“Because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick,” the CDC says.

You can read the CDC’s full guide on how to protect yourself on different types of transportation here.

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What’s so different about coronavirus that made us shut down the economy? Why do we have to practice social distancing now, when we didn’t during the SARS and swine flu epidemics?

Unlike SARS and swine flu, the novel coronavirus is both highly contagious and especially deadly, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

“SARS was also a coronavirus, and it was a new virus at the time,” Gupta said. “In the end, we know that SARS ended up infecting 8,000 people around the world and causing around 800 deaths. So very high fatality rate, but it didn’t turn out to be very contagious.”

The swine flu, or H1N1, “was very contagious and infected some 60 million people in the United States alone within a year,” Gupta said. “But it was far less lethal than the flu even — like 1/3 as lethal as the flu.”

What makes the novel coronavirus different is that “this is both very contagious … and it appears to be far more lethal than the flu as well,” Gupta said. “So both those things, in combination I think, are why we’re taking this so seriously.”

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How can I volunteer to be vaccine trial participant?

Go to www.coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org to fill out a quick questionnaire.

The website is handling registration for the four large vaccine studies that are expected to start by this fall, and any others that follow.

Several of the questions are designed to assess how likely you are to become infected and sick with Covid-19, including your race, what kind of work you do and how many people you come into contact with on a daily basis.

Tens of thousands of volunteers will be needed to help with trials before a vaccine could be made available to the public.

There will be more than 100 sites in the United States and abroad, and after registering on the website, your information will be sent to the study site closest to you.

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When are people with coronavirus most contagious?

“People can be contagious without symptoms. And in fact – a little bit strangely in this case — people tend to be the most contagious before they develop symptoms, if they’re going to develop symptoms,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

“They call that the pre-symptomatic period. So people tend to have more virus at that point seemingly in their nose, in their mouth. This is even before they get sick. And they can be shedding that virus into the environment.”

Some people infected with coronavirus never get symptoms. But it’s easy for these asymptomatic carriers to infect others, said Dr. Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health.

“When you speak, sometimes you’ll spit a little bit,” she said. “You’ll rub your nose. You’ll touch your mouth. You’ll rub your eyes. And then you’ll touch other surfaces, and then you will be spreading virus if you are infected and shedding asymptomatically.”

That’s why health officials suggests people wear face masks while in public and when it’s difficult to stay 6 feet away from others.

Transmission treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

Can you get Covid-19 through sex?

The odds of transmitting coronavirus through sex hasn’t been thoroughly studied, though it has been found to exist in men’s semen.

But we do know Covid-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can spread via saliva, coughs, sneezes, talking or breathing — with or without symptoms of illness.

So three Harvard physicians examined the likelihood of getting or giving Covid-19 during sex and made several recommendations.

For partners who haven’t been isolating together, people should wear masks and avoid kissing, the authors write.

In addition to wearing masks, people who have sex with partners outside of their home should also shower before and after; avoid sex acts that involve the oral transmission of bodily fluids; clean up the area afterward with soap or alcohol wipes to reduce their likelihood of infection.

Transmission treatment & prevention family myths & misinformation

Is it true young people with coronavirus are also having blood clots and strokes?

Yes, some young adults have suffered strokes after getting coronavirus.

“The virus seems to be causing increased clotting in the large arteries, leading to severe stroke,” said Dr. Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Health System in New York.

“Our report shows a seven-fold increase in incidence of sudden stroke in young patients during the past two weeks,” he said. “Most of these patients have no past medical history and were at home with either mild symptoms (or in two cases, no symptoms) of Covid.”

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Why has the guidance on wearing face masks changed so much?

Earlier in this pandemic, scientists didn’t know how easily this new virus spreads between people without symptoms, nor did they know how long infectious particles could linger in the air. There was also a shortage of N95 respirators and face masks among health care workers who were quickly overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.

But since then, the CDC, the US Surgeon General and other doctors have changed their recommendations and are now urging the widespread use of face masks.

The CDC now says the public needs to “cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.”

“Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities,” the CDC said.

Scientists have made many recent discoveries about the novel coronavirus, including:

In other words, it’s not just people who are sneezing and coughing who can spread coronavirus. It’s often people who look completely normal and don’t have a fever. And that could include you.

If 95% of Americans wore face masks in public, it would save more than 33,000 lives by October 1, according to projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

work/life myths & misinformation transmission treatment & prevention

How can I stay safe in an elevator?

It’s best to take the stairs if you can. But if you can’t, emergency room physician Dr. Leana Wen offers several tips:

  • Wear a mask. Not only does wearing a mask reduce your risk of inhaling the virus — which can linger in the air for 8 minutes — it also helps reduce your chances of infecting others if you are an asymptomatic carrier.
  • Use a tissue to push the elevator buttons. If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow, then wash or disinfect that area when you can.
  • Try to keep your distance from anyone else inside the elevator as much as possible.

transmission work/life treatment & prevention

How safe are public restrooms?

“If you don’t have to use the public restroom, don’t,” said microbiologist Ali Nouri, president of the Federation of American Scientists. But he acknowledged that’s not always possible: “Sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go.”

Close contact with others is the most significant risk in a public restroom, Nouri said. So if there’s a single-person bathroom available that doesn’t have multiple stalls, using that might be best.

If you do use a multi-stall public restroom, Nouri offers the following tips:

  • Use paper towels to dry your hands, not the hand dryer. Air dryers can spread viral particles around the room. And paper towels have been shown to remove residual viral particles more effectively than air.
  • Don’t use your freshly washed hands to turn off the water with the germ-laden faucet handle. Instead, use a paper towel to turn off the water and open the bathroom door. Throw away the paper towel immediately afterward.
  • Wear a face mask. “Masks are one of the most effective ways to stop human-to-human transmission,” Nouri said. “If people in a public bathroom are not wearing masks, think twice before going in.”
  • If the restroom looks crowded, wait until it clears out, if you can. “You’re reducing the risk of inhaling aerosolized particles from other people,” Nouri said.

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Is hand sanitizer as effective as soap and water in killing coronavirus?

Yes — as long as you use the right kind of sanitizer and use it correctly.

Hand sanitizers “need to have at least 60% alcohol in them,” said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

And don’t just put a little dollop in your hand and smear it around quickly.

“You’ve got to use enough and get it all over the surfaces,” Schaffner said. “Rub it all over your hands, between your fingers and on the back of your hands.”

But it’s always better to thoroughly wash your hands, if you’re able to.

“Alcohol is pretty effective at killing germs, but it doesn’t wash away stuff,” said Dr. John Williams, a virologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“If somebody’s just sneezed into their hand, and their hand is covered with mucus, they would have to use a lot more alcohol to inactivate that bacteria or virus.”

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Are some blood types able to fight coronavirus better than other blood types?

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people with Type A blood have a higher risk of getting infected with coronavirus and developing severe symptoms, while people with Type O blood have a lower risk – but the study has caveats.

The researchers cannot say if blood type is a direct cause of the differences in susceptibility. It could be that genetic changes that affect someone’s risk also just happen to be linked with blood type, they said.

The study’s findings, while plausible, may mean very little for the average person, said Dr. Roy Silverstein, a hematologist and chairman of the department of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“The absolute difference in risk is very small,” he said. “The risk reduction may be statistically significant, but it is a small change in actual risk. You never would tell somebody who was Type O that they were at smaller risk of infection.”

The bottom line: “All of us are susceptible to this virus,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 response.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

What’s the risk of having a maid service come to clean your house if you’re not home?

“It’s probably safe if you’re not at home,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician. She suggested leaving the windows open to improve ventilation and asking the cleaners to use your own cleaning supplies so they don’t bring items that have been in other people’s houses.

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Can I disinfect my mask by putting it in the microwave?

That’s “not a great idea,” said Dr. Joseph Vinetz, a professor of infectious diseases at Yale School of Medicine. “We have no evidence about that.”

“If there’s a metal piece in an N95 or surgical mask and even staples, you can’t microwave them,” he said. “It’ll blow up.”

Vinetz said cloth masks can be washed and reused, and even disposable masks can be reused if you let them sit for several days.

To disinfect masks that you can’t wash, Vinetz recommends leaving them in a clean, safe place in your home for a few days. After that, it should no longer be infectious, as this coronavirus is known to survive on hard surfaces for only up to three days.

treatment & prevention work/life myths & misinformation

Is it safe to perform CPR on a stranger?

Doctors strongly recommend performing CPR when someone needs it.

You could be hundreds of times more likely to save that dying person’s life than you are to die from Covid-19 if you contract it after performing CPR, according to a report published by a group of Seattle emergency room physicians in the journal Circulation.

But it’s important to act quickly for CPR to be effective.

“The chance of survival goes down by 10% for every minute without CPR,” said Dr. Comilla Sasson, vice president for science and innovation in emergency cardiovascular care at the American Heart Association. “It’s a 10-minute window to death in many cases.”

If you’re not certified in CPR, performing chest compressions could also buy more time until help arrives. Bystanders should “provide high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the middle of the victim’s chest, with minimal interruptions,” the American Heart Association said.

If you’re not sure how “fast” to do to those chest compressions, singing any of these popular songs will help you get the right rhythm.

Transmission work/life family myths & misinformation

Can I get coronavirus from swimming in open water, like in a lake or seawater? What about in a public pool or hot tub?

It’s not the water you need to worry about. It’s how close you might get to other people.

“Properly maintained pool water will not be a source of spread of the virus. The chlorine that’s in it will inactivate the virus fairly quickly,” immunologist Erin Bromage said.

“The level of dilution that would happen in a pool or an ocean or a large freshwater body would not lead to enough virus to establish an infection. But when you do this, you need to just make sure that we’re maintaining an appropriate physical distance while swimming or sitting in a hot tub.”

That’s because it’s easy for infected people with no symptoms to spread the virus if they’re within 6 feet from each other. If you have an indoor pool or hot tub, even 6 feet might not be enough distance.

Transmission family travel treatment & prevention work/life

I see other countries spraying down sidewalks and other public places with disinfectant. Why don’t we do that in the US?

Randomly spraying open places is largely a waste of time, health experts say.

It can actually do more harm than good. “Spraying disinfectants can result in risks to the eyes, respiratory or skin irritation,” the World Health Organization said.

“Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces, such as streets or marketplaces, is also not recommended to kill the COVID-19 virus or other pathogens because disinfectant is inactivated by dirt and debris, and it is not feasible to manually clean and remove all organic matter from such spaces,” the WHO said.

“Moreover, spraying porous surfaces, such as sidewalks and unpaved walkways, would be even less effective.” Besides, the ground isn’t typically a source of infection, the WHO said.

And once the disinfectant wears off, an infected person could easily contaminate the surface again.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation travel transmission

Will the protests over police brutality increase the spread of Covid-19?

Any large gathering can increase the spread because this coronavirus is transmissible by talking or even just breathing. Carriers of the virus can be contagious even if they don’t have symptoms.

And when people are “shouting and cheering loudly, that does produce a lot of droplets and aerosolization that can spread the virus to people,” said Dr. James Phillips, a physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital.

So doctors and officials say it’s extremely important to wear a face mask and try to keep your distance from others as much as possible.

“Even if you think you’re a superhero because you’re young and you’re strong, you can get it and then infect someone else,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Transmission treatment & prevention work/life

Do vitamin D levels affect your risk for coronavirus? Is there a correlation between vitamin D and those who test positive for Covid-19?

“To date, there is no evidence that very high vitamin D levels are protective against COVID-19 and consequently medical guidance is that people should not be supplementing their vitamin D levels beyond those which are currently recommended by published medical advice,” wrote Robin May, director of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Vitamin D is important for healthy muscles, strong bones and a powerful immune system. The recommended daily dose of vitamin D for anyone over age 1 is 15 mcg/600 IU per day in the US. For anyone over 70 years of age in the US, the recommended daily intake goes up to 20 mcg/800 IU per day.

But too much vitamin D can lead to a toxic buildup of calcium in your blood that can cause confusion, disorientation, heart rhythm problems, bone pain, kidney damage and painful kidney stones.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

Can you get coronavirus from touching money? What about from other objects, like plants?

“Viruses can live on surfaces and objects — including on money — although your chance of actually getting COVID-19 from cash is probably very low,” emergency room physician Dr. Leana Wen said.

The new coronavirus can live for up to 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic, up to 24 hours after landing on cardboard, and up to four hours after landing on copper, according to a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health.

So how do you protect yourself? To avoid touching cash or coins, use contactless methods of payment whenever possible, Wen said.

If you can’t use a contactless form of payment, credit cards and debit cards are much easier to clean and disinfect than cash. But remember that anyone who touches your credit card can also leave germs on it.

If you must use cash, “wash your hands well with soap and water” afterward, Wen said.

The same applies for anything else you touch that might have coronavirus on it. If you can’t wash your hands immediately, use hand sanitzier or disinfectant.

And since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, make sure you avoid touching your face.

Transmission work/life treatment & prevention

Can you get coronavirus by touching a dead body or the ashes of someone who had Covid-19?

It appears unlikely, but the CDC advises taking precautions.

Experts believe coronavirus is mainly spread during close contact (about 6 feet) with a person who is currently infected, the CDC said.

“This type of spread is not a concern after death,” the CDC said. But it cautions that “we are still learning how it spreads.”

“There may be less of a chance of the virus spreading from certain types of touching, such as holding the hand or hugging after the body has been prepared for viewing,” the CDC said.

“Other activities, such as kissing, washing, and shrouding should be avoided before, during, and after the body has been prepared, if possible.”

If washing the body or shrouding are important religious or cultural practices, “families are encouraged to work with their community’s cultural and religious leaders and funeral home staff on how to reduce their exposure as much as possible,” the CDC said.

“At a minimum, people conducting these activities should wear disposable gloves. If splashing of fluids is expected, additional personal protective equipment (PPE) may be required (such as disposable gown, faceshield or goggles and N-95 respirator).”

Cremated remains can be considered sterile, as infectious agents do not survive incineration-range temperatures, the CDC said.

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Can UV light kill coronavirus?

While some UV light devices are used for hospital disinfection, UV light only kills germs under very specific conditions — including certain irradiation dosages and exposure times, the World Health Organization said.

But UV light can also damage the body.

Two factors are required for UV light to destroy a virus: intensity and time. If the light is intense enough to break apart a virus in a short time, it’s going to be dangerous to people, said Donald Milton, a professor at the University of Maryland.

UVA and UVB light both damage the skin. UVC light is safer for skin, but it will damage tender tissue such as the eyes.

And don’t be fooled by claims that hot weather will kill coronavirus.

“You can catch COVID-19 no matter how sunny or hot the weather is,” the WHO said. “Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19.”

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention

Do I need to wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water?

No. The US Food and Drug Administration says you don’t need to wash fresh produce with soap and water, but you should rinse it with plain water.

But it’s still important to wash your hands with soap and water frequently because we often touch our faces without realizing it. And that’s a very easy way for coronavirus to spread.

You don’t have to worry about getting coronavirus by “eating” it, though. Even if coronavirus does get into your food, your stomach acid would kill it, said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University.

Treatment & prevention work/life transmission

Can coronavirus stay in my hair or in a beard? Should I wash my hair every day?

Coronavirus can stick to hair, said Dr. David Aronoff, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Touching contaminated hair and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose could increase your risk of infection. “Like on the skin, this coronavirus is a transient hitchhiker that can be removed by washing,” Aronoff said.

But that doesn’t mean you have to wash the hair on your head multiple times a day, said dermatologist Dr. Hadley King.

That’s because “living hair attached to our scalps may be better protected by our natural oils that have some antimicrobial properties and may limit how well microbes can attach to the hair,” she said.

“If you are going out into areas that could possibly be contaminated with viral particles, then it would be reasonable to wash the hair daily during the pandemic. But it’s not the same as hand washing – the virus infects us through our mucosal surfaces. If your hair is not falling into your face or you’re not running your fingers through it, then there is less of a risk.”

If your hair does fall into your face, you may want to pull it back to minimize your risk, King said.

As for facial hair, “washing at least daily if not more frequently is wise, depending on how often they touch their face,” Aronoff said.

Transmission treatment & prevention work/life

Could I infect my pets with coronavirus, or vice versa? Can someone get infected by touching an animal’s fur? Should I get my pet tested for coronavirus?

There have been some reports of animals infected by coronavirus — including two pets in New York and eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo.

Most of those infections came from contact with people who had coronavirus, like a zoo employee who was an asymptomatic carrier.

But according to the CDC, there is no evidence animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans. Therefore, at this time, routine testing of animals for Covid-19 is not recommended.

As always, it’s best to wash your hands after touching an animal’s fur and before touching your face. And if your pet appears to be sick, call your veterinarian.

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Should I wash my hands and laundry in very warm or hot water?

Hot water is best for killing bacteria and viruses in your laundry. But you don’t want to use that kind of scalding hot water on your skin.

Warm water is perfectly fine for washing your hands — as long as you wash them thoroughly (like this) and for at least 20 seconds. (To time yourself, you can hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice or sing a couple of verses from any of these hit songs from the past several decades.)

Cold water will also work, “but you have to make sure you work really vigorously to get a lather and get everything soapy and bubbly,” said chemist Bill Wuest, an associate professor at Emory University. To do that, you might need to sing “Happy Birthday” three times instead of twice.

“Warm water with soap gets a much better lather – more bubbles,” Wuest said. “It’s an indication that the soap is … trying to encapsulate the dirt and the bacteria and the viruses in them.”

Treatment & prevention work/life transmission myths & misinformation

How does soap kill coronavirus? If I don’t have disinfecting wipes, can I use soap and water on surfaces?

Yes, you can use soap and water on surfaces just like you would on your hands to kill coronavirus. But don’t use water alone — that won’t really help.

The outer layer of the virus is made up of lipids, aka fat. Your goal is to break through that fatty barrier, forcing the virus’ guts to spill out and rendering it dead.

In other words, imagine coronavirus is a butter dish that you’re trying to clean.

“You try to wash your butter dish with water alone, but that butter is not coming off the dish,” said Dr. John Williams, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“You need some soap to dissolve grease. So soap or alcohol are very, very effective against dissolving that greasy liquid coating of the virus.”

By cutting through the greasy barrier, Williams said, “it physically inactivates the virus so it can’t bind to and enter human cells anymore.”

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention schools/education

Can coronavirus be transferred by people’s shoes? How do I protect kids who crawl or play on the floor?

Yes, coronavirus can live on the soles of shoes, but the risk of getting Covid-19 from shoes appears to be low.

A report published by the CDC highlighted a study from a hospital in Wuhan, China, where this coronavirus outbreak began.

The soles of medical workers’ shoes were swabbed and analyzed, and the study found that the virus was “widely distributed” on floors, computer mice, trash cans and door knobs. But it’s important to note the study was done in a hospital, where the virus was concentrated.

It’s still possible to pick up coronavirus on the bottoms of your shoes by running errands, but it’s unlikely you’ll get sick from it because people don’t often touch the soles of their shoes and then their faces. Because Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, the CDC advises wearing a mask while in public and washing your hands frequently– the correct way.

If you have small children who crawl or regularly touch the floor, it’s a good idea to take your shoes off as soon you get home to prevent coronavirus or bacteria from spreading on the floors.

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Can coronavirus travel by wind? Is it safe to go for a walk or exercise outside if someone jogs or bikes past me?

Coronavirus cannot travel very far in the air, the World Health Organization says.

The virus is mainly spread through small droplets from an infected person’s nose or mouth, which get released when a person coughs, sneezes or speaks.

These droplets “are relatively heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground,” the WHO said.

While the wind isn’t a big risk factor, contaminated surfaces are. Those respiratory droplets can land on surfaces such as tables, doorknobs and handrails — and subsequently infect others who touch those surfaces and later touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Transmission work/life travel

Doesn’t the flu kill more people than coronavirus?

Transmission family work/life myths & misinformation

What’s convalescent plasma therapy? Do plasma donors and their recipients have to have the same blood type for this treatment?

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood from patients who have recovered from an infection, the US Food and Drug Administration says. “Antibodies present in convalescent plasma are proteins that might help fight the infection.”

But just like normal blood donation, donors and recipients must be matched by blood type. Type AB plasma is the only universal type and can be given to patients of any blood type.

The FDA said patients who are fully recovered from Covid-19 for at least two weeks are encouraged to consider donating plasma.

The Red Cross said there are other requirements for plasma donors:

  1. You are at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. (The age requirement may differ according to organization and state). Other weight requirements apply for donors age 18 or younger.
  2. You must be in good health overall health now.

You cannot donate if you are pregnant or have certain conditions, such as HIV or sickle cell disease.

Anyone interested in donating can fill out a form on the Red Cross website here.

Treatment & prevention

Can coronavirus spread through water, like in a swimming pool or hot tub?

“There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs,” the CDC says.

“Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”

But health officials still advise staying at least 6 feet away from others because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. In other words, you probably won’t get coronavirus from the water, but you could get coronavirus from someone close to you in the water.

As for drinking water, doctors say you don’t need to worry about coronavirus in the tap water because most municipal drinking water systems should remove or inactivate the virus.

Transmission work/life

Can mosquitoes or houseflies transmit coronavirus?

“To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes,” the World Health Organization says. There’s also no evidence so far suggesting flies can spread coronavirus.

Transmission myths & misinformation

Can you safely reuse a non-cloth mask that you can’t wash, like a disposable mask?

Work/life treatment & prevention

Will ingesting or injecting disinfectants, like the ones that kill viruses on surfaces, protect me against coronavirus or kill coronavirus if I already have it?

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention work/life

What can we learn from how other countries handled coronavirus?

Singapore was initially praised for its clampdown on the virus. Even people who had no symptoms but tested positive had to be hospitalized until they tested negative.

But Singapore was also relaxed, allowing businesses, churches, restaurants and schools to stay open during its first wave of the virus. And some communities were overlooked by government testing.

The number of cases in Singapore shot up, and the country suffered a strong second wave of coronavirus.

By contrast, Germany, South Korea, Iceland and Taiwan have been able to suppress the virus. They also have among the lowest death rates from Covid-19 in the world.

Taiwan was proactive, launching its Central Epidemic Command Center before the island even confirmed its first infection.

Iceland required all its citizens returning to the country to undergo 14 days of quarantine – regardless of which country they traveled from.

Germany and South Korea quickly launched widespread testing and have some of the highest per-capita testing rates in the world. Their ability to identify and isolate those infected has helped prevent deadlier outcomes.

Work/life treatment & prevention

Can coronavirus stick to clothes? Do I need to wash my clothes right after encountering other people, like at the grocery store or while jogging?

“I don’t think you need to,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.

Coronavirus can stay alive for up to three days on stainless steel and plastic. But clothing “is probably more like cardboard — it’s more absorbent, so the virus is unlikely to stay and last that long,” Gupta said.

While covonravirus can stay alive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, viruses generally don’t stick well on surfaces that are in motion.

“If you look at how viruses move through air, they kind of want to move around objects,” Gupta said. “They don’t want to necessarily land on objects. So if you’re moving as human body through the air … (it’s) unlikely to stick to your clothes.”

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How can someone spread coronavirus when asymptomatic? If they’re not sneezing or coughing, how can they infect others?

It’s easy for asymptomatic people to spread coronavirus, said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health.

“When you speak, sometimes you’ll spit a little bit,” she said. “You’ll rub your nose. You’ll touch your mouth. You’ll rub your eyes. And then you’ll touch other surfaces, and then you will be spreading virus if you are infected and shedding asymptomatically.”

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Will an antibody test show whether I’m immune and can go back to work or school?

Work/life treatment & prevention transmission schools/education

If novel coronavirus antibodies may or may not offer long-term immunity, how would a vaccine help?

In some cases, a vaccine might give stronger protection than antibodies produced after being infected, epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant said.

“There are actually six other coronavirus – MERS and SARS and four other viruses that create the common cold. They don’t seem to do very well at creating long-term immunity,” Brilliant said.

“But we need to find out whether we can create a vaccine that creates more immunity [to the novel coronavirus] than the disease does. And that’s not so wild. Many of the vaccines that we’ve made in history are actually stronger than the virus is itself at creating immunity.”

Treatment & prevention transmission

Can I use vodka as hand sanitizer?

Please don’t. The CDC advises using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Vodka typically contains between 35% and 46% percent alcohol.

If the stores are out of hand sanitizer and you want to make your own, the Nebraska Medical Center offers this recipe:

What you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon or something for whisking
  • Small container, such as a 3-oz. travel bottle
  • Optional: essential oil to give your hand sanitizer a fragrance

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, stir isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel together until well blended.
Add 8-10 drops of scented essential oil (optional, but nice). Stir.
Pour the homemade hand sanitizer into an empty container and seal. Write “hand sanitizer” on a piece of masking tape and attach to the bottle.

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention

Are smokers or vapers at higher risk? What if I only smoke weed?

This is not a good time to be vaping or smoking anything, including weed.

“Vaping affects your lungs at every level. It affects the immune function in your nasal cavity by affecting cilia, which push foreign things out,” said Prof. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Research Control and Education at University of California San Francisco.

When you vape, “the ability of your upper airways to clear viruses is compromised,” Glantz said.

Tobacco smokers are at especially high risk. In a study from China, where the first Covid-19 outbreak occurred, smokers were 14 times more likely to develop severe complications than non-smokers.

Even occasionally smoking marijuana can put you at greater risk.

“What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause,” said pulmonologist Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.

“Now you have some airway inflammation, and you get an infection on top of it. So yes, your chance of getting more complications is there.”

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Can I get coronavirus through food? Is it safe to eat takeout from restaurants?

There’s no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted through food, the CDC says.

Even if coronavirus does get into your food, your stomach acid would kill it, said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University.

“When you eat any kind of food, whether it be hot or cold, that food is going to go straight down into your stomach, where there’s a high acidity, low-pH environment that will inactivate the virus,” she said.

But it’s a good idea to disinfect the takeout containers, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, and it’s easy to touch your face without realizing it.

If you don’t have disinfecting wipes, use your own plates or bowls to serve the food. Just make sure to wash your hands after transferring food from the containers.

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My teenagers aren’t taking this seriously. Any advice?

Coronavirus isn’t just infecting young people. It’s killing young, healthy people as well.

We’ve reported many stories about young people getting severely sick with or dying from coronavirus.

Dimitri Mitchell, 18, admits he had a “false sense of security.” But he was later hospitalized with coronavirus and now wants everyone to take it seriously.

“I just want to make sure everybody knows that no matter what their age is, it can seriously affect them. And it can seriously mess them up, like it messed me up,” the Iowa teen said.

He started feeling sick with just a small cough. “I thought at first it was just a normal cold. And then it started progressively getting worse,” he said.

“Four days in, the really bad symptoms started coming along. I started having really bad outbreaks, like sweating, and my eyes were really watery. I was getting warmer and warmer, and I was super fatigued. … I would start experiencing the worst headaches I’ve ever felt in my life. They were absolutely horrible.”

Eventually, the teen had to be hospitalized. His mother said she worried he might “fall asleep and never wake up.”

Mitchell is now recovering, but has suffered from long-term effects.

“I just hope everybody’s responsible, because it’s nothing to joke about,” he said. “It’s a real problem, and I want everybody to make sure they’re following social distancing guidelines and the group limits. And just listen to all the rules and precautions and stay up to date with the news and make sure they’re informed.”

Family transmission treatment & prevention myths & misinformation schools/education

Does this pandemic have anything to do with the 5G network?

No. That’s just a hoax going around the internet.

“The theory that 5G might compromise the immune system and thus enable people to get sick from corona is based on nothing,” said Eric van Rongen, chairman of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

Learn more about how 5G really works and why this hoax makes no sense.

Myths & misinformation

My ex and I have joint custody of our kids. Is it safe for them to go between two homes?

Ideally, you should limit your children’s potential exposures to coronavirus and work out the safest plan possible with your ex.

The problem: Some state and county family courts may be closed, or open only for emergencies involving abuse or endangerment. So if parents wanted to formally modify pre-existing custody agreements, they can’t.

But some states may be offering some flexibility during the pandemic. And there may be creative solutions, such as spending more time with one parent now in exchange for extra time with the other parent after the pandemic ends.

Family work/life travel

How long does coronavirus stay “alive” on surfaces?

Up to three days, depending on the surface. According to a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health:

  • The novel coronavirus is viable up to 72 hours after being placed on stainless steel and plastic.
  • It was viable up to four hours after being placed on copper, and up to 24 hours after being put on cardboard.
  • In aerosols, it was viable for three hours.

Transmission

Will a pneumonia or flu vaccine help protect against coronavirus?

Transmission myths & misinformation treatment & prevention

Should I wear a face mask in public? If so, how do I make one?

The CDC recently changed its guidance on wearing face masks as more studies about asymptomatic spread pile up.

Now, the CDC “recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).”

But there are several important caveats and key points:

transmission work/life myths & misinformation

How long will we have to keep social distancing?

Probably for several months. But you might have to do it “over and over again,” since the outbreak could come in waves.

Research by the Imperial College in Great Britain “would suggest you have to institute these kinds of measures for five months, very vigorously,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center.

“And then you may be able to relax for a period. And then you would re-institute as the cases go up again. But we’re basically looking at doing this over and over and over again, even after a five-month period of strict social distancing, in order to curb cases until we have a vaccine.”

transmission work/life treatment & prevention

Is there a cure?

There’s currently no cure for the novel coronavirus. And while research and trials are underway, it could be next year before a vaccine becomes publicly available.

Treatment & Prevention

Why is a cure taking so long?

An antiviral drug must be able to target the specific part of a virus’s life cycle that is necessary for it to reproduce, according to Harvard Medical School.

“In addition, an antiviral drug must be able to kill a virus without killing the human cell it occupies. And viruses are highly adaptive.”

Treatment & Prevention

Why are medical workers getting sick with or dying from coronavirus if they’re wearing protective gear? Does the viral load matter?

Transmission

How many people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms? Are they still contagious?

In one study, about 4 in 5 people with confirmed coronavirus in China were likely infected by people who didn’t know they had it, according to research published in the journal “Science.”

“These findings explain the rapid geographic spread of (coronavirus) and indicate containment of this virus will be particularly challenging,” researchers wrote.

In mid-March, the CDC said almost half of the 712 people with coronavirus who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship didn’t have any symptoms when they tested positive.

And recent studies suggest 25% to 50% of coronavirus carriers don’t have symptoms.

In the US, “I think it could be as many as 1 in 3 walking around asymptomatic,” said New Jersey primary care physician Dr. Alex Salerno.

“We have tested some patients that have known exposure to COVID (coronavirus disease). They did not have temperature. Their pulse/(oxygen) was OK.”

Aside from social distancing and frequent hand washing, Salerno said more testing of people without symptoms is essential.

When asymptomatic carriers test positive, “we isolate them, and we separate them from the people who are not positive,” Salerno said. If more asymptomatic people got tested, “we could get people back to work safely.”

But there haven’t been nearly enough tests in the US for everyone who wants one, due to shortages, delays and faulty test kits.

Transmission myths & misinformation work/life

If there’s no cure, why go to the hospital unless you have a breathing problem?

Most coronavirus patients don’t need to be hospitalized. “The vast majority of people – about 80% – will do well without any specific intervention,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Those patients should get plenty of rest, hydrate frequently and take fever-reducing medication.

“The current guidance – and this may change – is that if you have symptoms that are similar to the cold and the flu and these are mild symptoms to moderate symptoms, stay at home and try to manage them,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association.

But about 20% of coronavirus patients get advanced disease. “Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness,” the CDC says.

The CDC also says you should get immediate help if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Sudden confusion
  • Bluish lips or face

“This list is not all inclusive,” the CDC says. “Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.”

Treatment & prevention family

Why are people stocking up on bottled water? Is the water supply at risk?

No, the water supply is not at risk.

“The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water,” the CDC says. “Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”

So there’s no need to hoard drinking water, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci said he and his wife are still drinking tap water.

Work/life myths & misinformation

We need a babysitter. How do I keep my family safe with someone new in the house?

The Harvard Medical School offers several tips, including:

  • choosing a babysitter who has minimal exposures to other people besides your family
  • limiting the number of babysitters. If you can keep it to one, that’s ideal. But if you need multple babysitters, keep the number as low as possible
  • making sure the babysitter understands he or she needs to practice social distancing and limits physical interaction with your children as much as possible
  • telling the babysitter that he or she must not come to your house if feeling even the slightest bit sick, or has had known exposure to coronavirus
  • making sure everyone washes their hands frequently throughout the day, especially before eating.

Work/life family

If people can spread the virus without showing any symptoms, how can I tell who’s infected and who’s not?

You can’t, said Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster and operational medicine at George Washington University Hospital.

“We’re so far behind on testing, there’s only one way we can be certain not to transmit the virus and be certain not to get it ourselves: We need to start treating every person as though they have this, ” Phillips said.

“And everyone needs to treat us like we have it, and socially distance ourselves in that manner. Because until we have (enough) testing, we don’t know who has this. And we’re not sure when they start spreading it.”

That’s why it’s so critical to avoid crowds, stay at least 6 feet away from others, wear a mask when you might be in close contact with others, wash or disinfect your hands, and stop touching your face.

Transmission travel work/life schools/education

How do I safely take care of someone who’s sick?

It may be difficult to know whether your loved one has coronavirus or another illness. So it’s critical to play it safe and not infect yourself and, in turn, others. The CDC suggests:

  • Giving the sick person their own room to stay in, if possible. Keep the door closed.
  • Having only one person serve as the caretaker.
  • Asking the sick person to wear a face mask, if they are able to. If the mask causes breathing difficulties, then the caretaker should wear a mask instead.

Transmission family

What are the symptoms?

Fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing are hallmarks of coronavirus.

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks after exposure, the CDC says. But some people get no symptoms at all and can infect others without knowing it.

The illness varies in its severity. And while many people can recover at home just fine, some people — including young, previously healthy adults — are suffering long-term symptoms.

transmission

Can coronavirus go through skin and into the body?

“It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” the CDC says.

More often than not, people get coronavirus through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

“These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs,” the CDC says.

transmission

What exactly does ‘older’ adults mean? What is the age threshold?

Family

What can I do if my loved one suspects they have coronavirus?

Don’t visit family members with suspected illness – keep up with them virtually. If that loved one lives with you, limit contact with them and avoid using the same bathroom or bedroom, the CDC advises.

If they’ve been diagnosed, they may be able to recover at home in isolation. Separate yourself as much as possible from your infected family member and keep animals away, too. Continue to use separate restrooms and regularly disinfect them with EPA-approved products.

Stock up on groceries and household supplies for them while they can’t travel outside and minimize trips to stores. Wash your hands frequently and avoid sharing personal items with the infected person.

If you suspect you’re developing symptoms, stay home and call your physician.

Family

Should I disinfect my groceries? If so, how?

“I would suggest wiping down external surfaces of canned or wrapped foods,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center.

“You should be washing your vegetables (and) produce anyway,” she said. “But I think making sure you sanitize your hands, wash your hands after you do all that – after you unpack all your groceries – is also a key step.”

Work/life

The stores are all out of disinfectant sprays and hand sanitizer. Can I make my own?

Yes, you can make both at home.

“Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted” if you’re trying to kill coronavirus on a non-porous surface, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC’s recipe calls for diluting 5 tablespoons (or ⅓ cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.

You can also make your own hand sanitizer. The Nebraska Medical Center – famous for its biocontainment unit and treatment of Ebola patients – offers this recipe:

What you’ll need:

  • 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon or something for whisking
  • Small container, such as a 3 oz. travel bottle
  • Optional: essential oil to give your hand sanitizer a fragrance

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, stir isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel together until well blended.
Add 8-10 drops of scented essential oil (optional, but nice). Stir.
Pour the homemade hand sanitizer into an empty container and seal.
Write “hand sanitizer” on a piece of masking tape and attach to the bottle.

Work/life Treatment & Prevention

Should I stock up on extra food and supplies?

Yes, because a family member may suddenly have to quarantine. Just don’t hoard more than you need because other people need supplies, too.

Harvard Medical School recommends keeping a two-week to 30-day supply of nonperishable food at home. And if you don’t use them now, they may come in handy for power outages or extreme weather.

It’s also a good idea to keep at least a 30-day supply of prescription medications you may need, though it can be difficult to get them early. Consider mail-ordering medications.

Work/life

Should I avoid public transportation?

If you rely on public transportation, use caution. If you’re sick or live in an area where an outbreak has been reported, avoid it.

Mass transit could increase your risk of exposure to coronavirus. Luckily, transit systems are upping their cleaning regimens — notably the New York subway system.

Dr. Robyn Gershon, a professor of epidemiology at New York University’s School of Public Health, has some tips: When you ride a bus or subway, sneeze or cough into your elbow. Use a tissue to hold onto a pole. Avoid touching your face while you’re riding, and use hand sanitizer if you have it while you’re commuting.

Again, wash your hands before, during and after your trip.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommends letting crowded trains or buses pass and waiting for a less crowded one. It’s nearly impossible to maintain 6 feet of distance on a packed subway car.

If you have a chronic illness, find alternative means of transportation — being in a crowded subway car or bus will significantly increase your risk of infection.

Work/life travel

How do I stay healthy while using Uber or Lyft?

Both rideshare companies said they’re actively trying to protect customers and drivers from coronavirus.

Uber said it is trying to give drivers with disinfectants to help keep their cars clean, and the company “may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders or drivers confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19.”

Lyft announced a similar policy: “If we are notified of a rider or driver testing positive for COVID-19, they will be temporarily suspended from using Lyft until they are medically cleared.”

Both Lyft and Uber also said they will protect drivers financially if they are asked to isolate themselves.

“Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold,” Uber said.

“We’ve already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we’re working to quickly implement this worldwide.”

Work/Life travel

Is it safe for me to vote at a polling location?

States have received guidance from the CDC on how to keep voting locations clean. It’s up to you whether you feel comfortable going.

Many states that already held elections imposed measures to reduce contact between voters, increasing the distance between voting booths and rigorously disinfecting voting equipment. But if you go, remember – wash your hands before, during and afterward.

If you’re able to mail in your ballot, do – just don’t lick the envelope.

If you think you have a fever or respiratory symptoms, the CDC advises that you stay home. It’s unfortunate to skip out on your civic duty, but sick people shouldn’t visit crowded locations.

Work/life

Should I go to work?

If you can, you should stay home from work when you’re sick, whether or not you have coronavirus.

Many companies are increasingly flexible with workfromhome policies. If your company is allowing employees to work from home, consider it. Some companies have enforced working from home.

If you must go into work, maintain 6 feet of distance from your colleagues, wash your hands frequently and wear a face mask whenever possible.

Avoid handshakes, switch in-person meetings to teleconferences and disinfect your workspace with EPA-approved products at the start of your shift.

Work/life

Can I be fired if I stay home sick?

An employee can be fired if they don’t show up to work and they don’t have sick leave that would cover the absence, says Krista Slosburg, an employment attorney at Stokes Lawrence in Seattle.

But there are exceptions. Employers who make workers with coronavirus come in may be violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] regulations, according to Donna Ballman, who heads an employee advocacy law firm in Florida.

Work/Life

What happens when workers don’t get paid sick leave?

If you work in a city or state that requires sick leave and you use it, you can‘t be terminated or disciplined.

But there is no federal mandate that requires companies to offer paid sick leave, and almost a quarter of all US workers don’t get it, according to 2019 government data. Some state and local governments have passed laws that require companies to offer paid sick leave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can sometimes protect a worker’s job in the event they get sick, but it won’t guarantee they get paid while they’re out.

Employee advocates urge businesses to consider the special circumstances of the coronavirus, and some already have. Uber and Olive Garden are two that recently updated their sick leave policies to adjust to the pandemic.

Work/Life

Can managers send a sick worker home?

Yes, managers can.

The Society for Human Resource Management recommends companies “actively encourage sick employees to stay home, send symptomatic employees home until they are able to return to work safely, and require employees returning from high-risk areas to telework during the incubation period [of 14 days].”

If a manager feels an employee’s illness poses a direct threat to colleagues’ safety, the manager may be able to insist the employee be evaluated by a doctor, said Alka Ramchandani-Raj, an attorney specializing in workplace safety.

Work/Life

If traveling on a plane, how do I stay safe?

Since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, some airlines are now requiring passengers to wear face masks during the flight, except for while eating or drinking.

And always be mindful of where your hands have been, travel medicine specialist Dr. Richard Dawood said.

Airport handrails, door handles and airplane lavatory levers are notoriously dirty.

“It is OK to touch these things as long as you then wash or sanitize your hands before contaminating your face, touching or handling food,” Dawood said.

“Hand sanitizers are great. So are antiseptic hand wipes, which you can also use to wipe down armrests, remote controls at your seat and your tray table.”

Travel family work/life

Since a plane’s cabin keeps circulating air, will I get sick if another passenger is sick?

Most viruses don’t spread easily on airplanes because of how the air circulates and is filtered, the CDC says.

Modern commercial jets recirculate 10-50% of the air in the cabin, mixed with outside air. “The recirculated air passes through a series of filters 20-30 times per hour,” the CDC says.

“Furthermore, air generally circulates in defined areas within the aircraft, thus limiting the radius of distribution of pathogens spread by small-particle aerosols. As a result, the cabin air environment is not conducive to the spread of most infectious diseases.”

Travel work/life

I have plans to go on a cruise. Should I rebook or cancel?

“US citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the US Department of State says.

Cruise ship passengers are at an increased risk of infection, the CDC says. The virus spreads more easily between passengers in tight quarters.

Several cruise ships have been linked to coronavirus, including the Diamond Princess, where more than 700 people were infected. Half of those infected didn’t have symptoms when they tested positive. At least seven of those patients have died.

Since the coronavirus outbreak started, some cruise lines have implemented more flexible rebooking or cancellation policies.

Travel

If I have a weakened immune system, should I cancel my travel plans?

People who are immunocompromised “are at higher risk from this illness, as well as other illnesses like the flu. Avoiding contact with ill people is crucial,” Washington state’s Snohomish Health District said.

“While rates of infection may not differ significantly between healthy and immunocompromised travelers, the latter are at greater risk for severe disease,” according to researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine.

Travel

What do I do if I think I’m sick?

Stay home. Call your doctor to talk about your symptoms and let them know you’re coming for an appointment so they can prepare for your visit, the CDC says.

Only a Covid-19 test can diagnose you with the virus, but if you suspect you have it, isolate yourself at home.

Many patients with coronavirus are able to recover at home. If you’ve been diagnosed and your illness is worsening, seek medical attention promptly. You may need to be monitored in a hospital.

Ask your physician to call the local or state health department, too, so they’re aware that you’re being monitored for the virus.

Treatment & Prevention

What’s the best way to prevent coronavirus?

Stay at least 6 feet away from others, wear a face mask when out in public, wash your hands often, and stop touching your face.

The best way to kill germs is by scrubbing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Do this frequently before, during and after you visit a public place or have contact with people.

When soap isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer. Rub the sanitizer around your hands until it’s dry.

Stay home as much as possible and limit your contact with people.

Treatment & Prevention

Should I spray myself or my kids with disinfectant?

No. Those products work on surfaces but can be dangerous to your body.

There are some chemical disinfectants, including bleach, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform, that may kill the virus on surfaces.

But if the virus is already in your body, putting those substances on your skin or under your nose won’t kill it, the World Health Organization says. And those chemicals can harm you.

Treatment & Prevention myths & misinformation

I’ve heard that home remedies can cure or prevent the virus. Is that true?

There’s no evidence from the outbreak that eating garlic, sipping water every 15 minutes or taking vitamin C will protect people from the new coronavirus. Same goes for using essential oils, colloidal silver and steroids.

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation

How long does it take to recover?

“It takes anything up to six weeks to recover from this disease,” said Dr. Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization.

“People who suffer very severe illness can take months to recover from the illness.”

Recovery is often marked by a patient no longer showing symptoms and having two consecutive negative tests at least one day apart, Ryan said. But there is no known cure for this novel coronavirus.

Treatment & Prevention

Why waste a test kit on a person without symptoms?

Some people with coronavirus have mild or no symptoms. And in some cases, symptoms don’t appear until up to 14 days after infection.

During that incubation period, it’s possible to get coronavirus from someone with no symptoms. It’s also possible you may have coronavirus without feeling sick and are accidentally infecting others.

So anyone who has had close contact with someone known to have coronavirus should ask a health care provider about getting tested, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Treatment & Prevention

Why has the US been so far behind other countries with testing?

Experts say it’s due to cuts in federal funding for public health and problems with early testing.

Problems with public health infrastructure: Two years ago, the CDC stopped funding epidemic prevention activities in 39 countries, including China. This happened because the Trump administration refused to allocate money to a program that started during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden warned that move “would significantly increase the chance an epidemic will spread without our knowledge and endanger lives in our country and around the world.”

Problems with the testing: Malfunctions, shortages and delays in availability have all contributed to the slowdown.

In the first few weeks of the outbreak in the US, the CDC was the only facility in the country that could confirm test results — even though a World Health Organization test became available around the same time.

Some test kits that were sent around the country were flawed — a move that put the US behind about “four to five weeks,” says Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare.

Treatment & Prevention

If a coronavirus patient progresses to pneumonia, what antibiotics if any have proven to be effective?

No, antibiotics are not effective against coronavirus because the disease is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection.

“However, if you are hospitalized for the [coronavirus], you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible,” the World Health Organization says.

There is no known cure for the coronavirus. Researchers are studying whether the antiviral drug remdesivir might work, but testing of that drug just started.

For now, coronavirus patients get “supportive” treatment, “which means giving fluids, medicine to reduce fever, and, in severe cases, supplemental oxygen,” the Harvard Medical School says.

Treatment & Prevention

Did Dean Koontz predict this outbreak in the book “The Eyes of Darkness” almost 40 years ago?

No. There are some interesting coincidences in the 1981 fiction novel, which says “a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread around the globe” around the year 2020. Modern editions of the book call the biological strain “Wuhan-400,” and the current coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, China.

But there are important differences between the book and reality. The original version of the book called the strain the “Gorki-400,” in reference to a Russian locality, before it was later changed to the “Wuhan-400.” In the book, the virus was man-made, while scientists believe the novel coronavirus started in animals and jumped to humans. And in the book, the virus had a 100% mortality rate. Early estimates of the mortality rate for this coronavirus outbreak range from 2-4%.

myths & misinformation

Can the heat from a hand dryer kill coronavirus?

Hand dryers can’t kill the virus, according to WHO. The organization also says that UV lamps shouldn’t be used to sterilize hands or other areas of the body because the radiation can irritate skin.

Drinking hot water or taking hot baths won’t kill it, either.

Myths & misinformation

Can I get coronavirus from a package sent from China?

No. “The new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any country reporting Covid-19 cases,” the World Health Organization says.

“Even though the new coronavirus can stay on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (depending on the type of surface), it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after being moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures,” WHO said.

The best ways to prevent transmission is to stay 6 feet away from others, wear a face mask, stop touching your face, thoroughly wash your hands, and disinfect surfaces with EPA-approved products.

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