Fact or fiction: Your coronavirus questions answered

As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, so do worries, fears and a lot of rumors.

Each day, we'll be taking questions from the public and answering them here with expert advice and information. 

April 1 and 2, 2020

After recovering from coronavirus, does the recovered patient have immunity to the virus?

CNN reports that the answer is unclear. "It’s too early to know for sure. But other coronaviruses, like ones that cause the common cold, might give us clues.

With “common cold coronaviruses, you don’t actually have immunity that lasts for very long, and so we don’t know the answer with this specific coronavirus,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the New York University School of Medicine.

“That’s actually going to be one of the challenges with designing a vaccine is how do you actually cause the immunity to last long enough to protect you.” --Source: CNN

Can I adopt a pet from a shelter during coronavirus?

"There is no reason to think that any animals, including shelter pets, in the United States might be a source of COVID-19," the CDC said. --Source: CDC

When school is out, how can I make sure my child continues learning?

The CDC offers the following advice: "Stay in touch with your child’s school.

Many schools are offering lessons online (virtual learning). Review assignments from the school, and help your child establish a reasonable pace for completing the work. You may need to assist your child with turning on devices, reading instructions, and typing answers.

Communicate challenges to your school. If you face technology or connectivity issues, or if your child is having a hard time completing assignments, let the school know.

-Create a schedule and routine for learning at home, but remain flexible.

-Have consistent bedtimes, and get up at the same time, Monday through Friday.

-Structure the day for learning, free time, healthy meals and snacks, and physical activity.

-Allow flexibility in the schedule—it’s okay to adapt based on your day.

-Consider the needs and adjustment required for your child’s age group.

-The transition to being at home will be different for preschoolers, K-5, middle school students, and high school students. Talk to your child about expectations and how they are adjusting to being at home versus at school.

-Consider ways your child can stay connected with their friends without spending time in person.

-Look for ways to make learning fun.

-Have hands-on activities, like puzzles, painting, drawing, and making things.

-Independent play can also be used in place of structured learning. Encourage children to build a fort from sheets or practice counting by stacking blocks.

-Practice handwriting and grammar by writing letters to family members. This is a great way to connect and limit face-to-face contact.

-Start a journal with your child to document this time and discuss the shared experience.

-Use audiobooks or see if your local library is hosting virtual or live-streamed reading events." --Source: CDC

March 31, 2020

Should parents take babies for initial vaccines right now? What about toddlers and up who are due for vaccines?

Harvard Medical School says that that depends. "As with all health care decisions, it comes down to weighing risks and benefits.

Getting early immunizations in for babies and toddlers — especially babies 6 months and younger — has important benefits. It helps to protect them from infections such as pneumococcus and pertussis that can be deadly, at a time when their immune system is vulnerable. At the same time, they could be vulnerable to complications of COVID-19 should their trip to the doctor expose them to the virus.

For children older than 2 years, waiting is probably fine — in most cases. For some children with special conditions, or those who are behind on immunizations, waiting may not be a good idea.

The best thing to do is call your doctor's office. Find out what precautions they are taking to keep children safe, and discuss your particular situation, including not only your child's health situation, but also the prevalence of the virus in your community and whether you have been or might have been exposed. Together, you can make the best decision for your child." --Source: Harvard Medical School

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

"With the shortage of coronavirus testing nationwide, 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.

-Officials say those who are healthy should not wear masks in public – in fact, that can cause more harm than good.

“Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers,” the CDC says." --Source: CNN

March 30, 2020

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

CNN says yes. They offer the following instructions from the CDC and Nebraska Medical Center:

"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 to incorporate.Pour the homemade hand sanitizer into an empty container and seal.Write “hand sanitizer” on a piece of masking tape and affix to the bottle." --Source: CNN

I've heard that high-dose vitamin C is being used to treat patients with COVID-19. Does it work? And should I take vitamin C to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus?

Harvard Medical School says not right now. "Some critically ill patients with COVID-19 have been treated with high doses of intravenous (IV) vitamin C in the hope that it will hasten recovery. However, there is no clear or convincing scientific evidence that it works for COVID-19 infections, and it is not a standard part of treatment for this new infection. A study is underway in China to determine if this treatment is useful for patients with severe COVID-19; results are expected in the fall." --Source: Harvard Medical School

Is a lost sense of smell a symptom of COVID-19? What should I do if I lose my sense of smell?

"Increasing evidence suggests that a lost sense of smell, known medically as anosmia, may be a symptom of COVID-19. This is not surprising, because viral infections are a leading cause of loss of sense of smell, and COVID-19 is a caused by a virus. Still, loss of smell might help doctors identify people who do not have other symptoms, but who might be infected with the COVID-19 virus — and who might be unwittingly infecting others.

A statement written by a group of ear, nose and throat specialists (otolaryngologists) in the United Kingdom reported that in Germany, two out of three confirmed COVID-19 cases had a loss of sense of smell; in South Korea, 30% of people with mild symptoms who tested positive for COVID-19 reported anosmia as their main symptom.

On March 22nd, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery recommended that anosmia be added to the list of COVID-19 symptoms used to screen people for possible testing or self-isolation.

In addition to COVID-19, loss of smell can also result from allergies as well as other viruses, including rhinoviruses that cause the common cold. So anosmia alone does not mean you have COVID-19. Studies are being done to get more definitive answers about how common anosmia is in people with COVID-19, at what point after infection loss of smell occurs, and how to distinguish loss of smell caused by COVID-19 from loss of smell caused by allergies, other viruses, or other causes altogether.

Until we know more, tell your doctor right away if you find yourself newly unable to smell. He or she may prompt you to get tested and to self-isolate." --Source: Harvard Medical School

March 26, 2020

Is the U.S. food supply safe?

Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.   

Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness and not gastrointestinal illness, and foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

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. --Source: FDA

Can I get coronavirus from a food worker handling my food?

Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in some communities in the U.S. The CDC recommends that if you are sick, stay home until you are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. --Source: FDA

When will social distancing end? Could life start getting back to normal by Easter, like President Trump suggested?

A CNN report says, "Probably not, medical experts say. President Donald Trump said he’s hoping church pews could be packed by Easter, which is April 12. But that’s actually around the same time deaths from coronavirus will be peaking in the US, a leading epidemiologist and CDC adviser estimates. Many doctors say they believe social distancing guidelines will or should stay in effect." --Source: CNN

March 25, 2020

Do I need to stockpile groceries and other supplies?

FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) says not to. "Please only buy what your family needs for a week.  It is important to remember that many families may be unable to buy a supply of food and water for weeks in advance. Consumer demand has recently been exceptionally high – especially for grocery, household cleaning, and some healthcare products. Freight flows are not disrupted, but stores need time to restock." --Source: FEMA

Will coronavirus stop once there's warm weather?

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months.  At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer.  There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing. --Source: CDC

Can I donate blood?

In healthcare settings all across the United States, donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients. The need for donated blood is constant, and blood centers are open and in urgent need of donations. CDC encourages people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19. CDC is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe. Examples of these recommendations include spacing donor chairs 6 feet apart, thoroughly adhering to environmental cleaning practices, and encouraging donors to make donation appointments ahead of time. --Source: CDC

March 24, 2020

"How does this Covid 19 virus compare to the H1N1 virus of years back?" --Vince 

"The coronavirus outbreak is more severe than the 2009 outbreak of H1N1, or swine flu. That illness infected between 700 million and 1.4 billion people worldwide but only had a mortality rate of 0.02%," according to a Business Insider article. --Source: Business Insider

"Are locksmiths considered an essential business/service?" --Hei-Lei

Workers who support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential dams, locks and levees are considered essential employees. 

How long are you contagious if you've recovered from the virus?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN said that, "The CDC guidelines say that if you're not showing symptoms, like a cough or fever; and if you've been tested negative on at least two consecutive tests taken a day apart; then you're not at risk of infecting others.

Now, if you've been in self isolation at home, you should consult your doctor before you make any decisions to come out of isolation and start interacting with anyone else." --Source: CNN

March 23, 2020

Should I avoid public transportation?

A report from CNN states: "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. Many 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." --Source: CNN

Can I use 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.'" --Source: CNN

Should children wear masks?

The CDC says, "No. If your child is healthy, there is no need for them to wear a facemask. Only people who have symptoms of illness or who are providing care to those who are ill should wear masks." --Source: CDC

March 20, 2020

“I seem to be falling into the same situation as so many others I have all the symptoms, but I've not flown out of the country. My primary is denying me to get tested. Only telling me to stay home, and if I get to the point where I am very sick, then they tell me to call the emergency room. Doesn't the state want to know data?” --Mark

This sentiment, unfortunately, seems to be common. Time Magazine reported that: "This is a direct result of the limited number of testing kits that have been available to date. When state and local public health departments had the only test kits that were available, health officials there made the decision about who to test." --Source: Time Magazine

How long can the coronavirus stay airborne? I have read different estimates.

A study done by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Laboratory of Virology in the Division of Intramural Research in Hamilton, Montana helps to answer this question. The researchers used a nebulizer to blow coronaviruses into the air. They found that infectious viruses could remain in the air for up to three hours. The results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 17, 2020. --Source: Harvard Medical School

I have asthma. If I get COVID-19, am I more likely to become seriously ill?

Yes, asthma may increase your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

However, you can take steps to lower your risk of getting infected in the first place. These include: social distancing, washing your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 to 30 seconds, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth and staying away from people who are sick.

In addition, you should continue to take your asthma medicines as prescribed to keep your asthma under control. If you do get sick, follow your asthma action plan and call your doctor. --Source: Harvard Medical School

Is it safe for me to donate blood durning coronavirus?

If you are healthy and interested in donating blood, the FDA encourages you to contact a local donation center to make an appointment. One way to make a difference during a public health emergency is to donate blood if you are able. --Source: The Food and Drug Administration

March 19, 2020

Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus. --Source: World Health Organization

Is it safe to take ibuprofen to treat symptoms of COVID-19?

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises against using ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, many generic versions) for COVID-19 symptoms based on reports of otherwise healthy people with confirmed COVID-19 who were taking an NSAID for symptom relief and developed a severe illness, especially pneumonia. While these are only observations and not based on scientific studies, it currently seems prudent to use acetaminophen to help reduce fever and ease aches and pains related to this coronavirus infection. No specific recommendation was made regarding naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). Given naproxen and ibuprofen have similar actions, it's best to avoid naproxen as well. For now, if you suspect or know you have COVID-19 and cannot take acetaminophen, or have taken the maximum dose and still need symptom relief, contact your doctor for advice. --Source: Harvard Medical School

Is the US Postal Service still up and running during coronavirus?

Yes, it is considered an essential service, and it will keep running. --Source: USPS

How long can the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly.

There's a lot we still don't know, such as how different conditions, such as exposure to sunlight, heat, or cold, can affect these survival times.

As we learn more, continue to follow the CDC's recommendations for cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects every day. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

--Source: Harvard Medical School

March 18, 2020

My husband and I are both in our 60s with a gym membership. Should we put our membership on hold? We take precautions and wipe things down. The gym has 3,000 members.

Harvard Medical School says that i's best to avoid the gym, but if you do go, be sure to wipe down anything you are about to touch, and once more after you use the equipment. Again try to keep a distance of 6 feet or more from others.

"Though you shouldn't go to the gym right now, that doesn't mean you can't exercise," the Harvard Medical School writes on their website. "Take long walks or run outside (do your best to maintain at least six feet between you and non-family members when you're outside). Do some yoga or other indoor exercise routines when the weather isn't cooperating."

Kids need exercise too, so try to get them outside every day for walks or a backyard family soccer game (remember, this isn't the time to invite the neighborhood kids over to play). Avoid public playground structures, which aren't cleaned regularly and can spread the virus.

Also, in Bay Area counties where there is a shelter-in-place, residents are directed to stay at home except for essential activities. 

--Source: Harvard Medical School

I wash my hands for 24 seconds but does it matter if the water is cold, warm or hot?

The CDC recommends washing hands in warm or cold water. --Source: CDC

Funeral homes are still having services. Why is that allowed?

They probably won't for long during this period of shelter-in-place and social distancing. The CDC has asked funeral directors to move to streaming services online, with only a few people present in-person. In a conversation with the the National Funeral Directors Association via webinar on the 16th, the CDC also said that people who have died of coronavirus won't spread the disease, but that mourners should not touch the body still. --Sources: CDC/NFDA webinar and Fox Detroit report

Should you avoid using cash and coins at stores?

In a guidance pamphlet on how businesses and schools should operate during coronavirus, the CDC recommends that businesses "promote tap and pay to limit handling of cash." A report from CBS says, "The Federal Reserve is delaying processing dollars that have been repatriated from Asia. The Louvre Museum in Paris isn't accepting cash from visitors. And Iran has urged its citizens to stop using bank notes over fears the coronavirus can be transmitted to humans through contaminated objects like cash. Public health experts believe the novel coronavirus, which causes the potentially deadly COVID-19 disease, is transmittable through "fomites" — surfaces, including paper money, that have been handled by an infected person." --Sources: CDC and CBS news report

March 17, 2020

Since it is not a good idea to go out to restaurants to eat, is it safe to order takeout from a restaurant, go pick it up, and eat at home? This would help to support the restaurant community and allow people who don’t cook to eat.

Harvard Medical School suggests that people prepare and eat their own food at home, rather than getting takeout, or dining in a restaurant. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom called for all bars, wineries and brewpubs to close, and for restaurants to limit their capacity. Many restaurants in the Bay Area have closed indefinitely, leaving many without work and others without their favorite meals. If you want to support your local restaurant, community members and hospitality workers recommend purchasing gift cards for restaurants which remain open, or plan to reopen, to use at a later time. --Source: Harvard Medical School

"Seniors are not supposed to go outside of their homes. How should they get their perscription medications?" --Sue

The CDC advises that if you were unable to stock up on prescriptions, use the mail-in option at your pharmacy. You should be able to send prescriptions to your home. --Source: CDC

"Are movie theaters closed today?" --Jackie

In six Bay Area counties: San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda county, a "shelter in place" order directs all residents to stay in their homes as much as possible, and non-essential businesses, including movie theaters, to close. This means that the theater in your area is likely closed, and if it's not, it's not advisable to go anyway.

"Is the IRS going to extend the deadline to file your taxes because of the coronavirus?" --Jackie

California has moved its deadline to file taxes to June 15.

"During this public health emergency, every Californian should be free to focus on their health and wellbeing,” said State Controller Betty T. Yee, who serves as chair of FTB in a news release. “Having extra time to file their taxes helps allows people to do this, as the experts work to control the spread of coronavirus.”

This relief includes moving the various tax filing and payment deadlines that occur on March 15, 2020, through June 15, 2020, to June 15, 2020. This includes:

-Partnerships and LLCs who are taxed as partnerships whose tax returns are due on March 15 now have a 90-day extension to file and pay by June 15.

-Individual filers whose tax returns are due on April 15 now have a 60-day extension to file and pay by June 15.

-Quarterly estimated tax payments due on April 15 now have a 60-day extension to pay by June 15.

-The FTB’s June 15 extended due date may be pushed back even further if the Internal Revenue Service grants a longer relief period. --Source: Gavin Newsom Press Release

March 16, 2020

Should I treat everyone as if they have coronavirus...? Seems like that might be the safest thing to do.

Harvard Medical School recommends immediate intensive social distancing. "As much as possible, limit contact with people outside your family," they wrote on their website. "If you need to get food, staples, medications or healthcare, try to stay at least six feet away from others, and wash your hands thoroughly after the trip, avoiding contact with your face and mouth throughout. Prepare your own food rather than going to a restaurant or even getting takeout. It's best to avoid the gym; but if you do go, be sure to wipe down anything you are about to touch, and once more after you use the equipment. Again try to keep a distance of 6 feet or more from others. Since the virus won't survive in properly treated pool water, swimming should be okay as long as you avoid close contact with other people."

They also recommended that people avoid playdates, parties, sleepovers, having friends or family over for meals or visits, and going to coffee shops — essentially any nonessential activity that involves close contact with others.

--Source: Harvard Medical School

Should I cancel my dentist doctor appointments? They’re checkups, not “critical care"?

The California Dental Association strongly recommended on Sunday that dentists practicing in California voluntarily suspend nonessential or non-urgent dental care for the next 14 days, so you might not be able to access the appointment if it's not critical care. The World Health Organization recommends that people exercise social distancing, that is, staying 3 feet between you and anyone who is coughing.

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued guidance last week to cancel or postpone gatherings large and small. On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for the banning of all public events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, so it is not advisable to be in places, including offices or crowded public spaces, where there are many people.

Source: California Dental Association, WHO and Governor Gavin Newsom

I’m 75 years old and I care for my young grandson on most weekdays, while his Mom works: is that safe for me and for him?

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Sunday evening that residents 65 and older and critically ill people should remain at home in isolation. And according to Dr. Asaf Bitton, a primary care physician and executive director of Ariadne Labs, a joint health system innovation center at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, "what we do, or don’t do, over the next week will have a massive impact on the local and perhaps national trajectory of coronavirus. We are only about 11 days behind Italy and generally on track to repeat what is unfortunately happening there and throughout much of the rest of Europe very soon."

Sources: Governor Gavin Newsom announcement and Dr. Asaf Bitton on Medium

My children are not going to school and I’m worried about filling the next 3 weeks: can we do playdates if I make sure the children stay apart from each other?

According to Dr. Asaf Bitton, a primary care physician and executive director of Ariadne Labs, a joint health system innovation center at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, parents should not treat this period of social distancing as a "snow day." He said that that means no playdates, parties, sleepovers or family/friends visiting each others' houses. 

"This sounds extreme because it is," Dr. Bitton wrote on Medium. "We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals. It may be particularly uncomfortable for families with small children, kids with differential abilities or challenges, and for kids who simply love to play with their friends. But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent. The symptoms of coronavirus take four to five days to manifest themselves. Someone who comes over looking well can transmit the virus. Sharing food is particularly risky — I definitely do not recommend that people do so outside of their family."

--Source: Dr. Asaf Bitton on Medium

March 13, 2020

Am I at risk for coronavirus if I receive a package, or am in contact with a package from China?

There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV). The virus that causes COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats. While we don’t know for sure that this virus will behave the same way as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, we can use the information gained from both of these earlier coronaviruses to guide us. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. --Source: CDC

Can mosquitos carry coronavirus?

To date, there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing. --Source: World Health Organization

Are pregnant women at increased risk for coronavirus, and if they get sick, are they likely to become more sick than other people?

We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.

Pregnant women should do the same things as the general public to avoid infection. You can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by taking these actions:

-Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique)

-Avoid people who are sick

-Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer

--Source: CDC

March 12, 2020

Can a person who has had coronavirus get infected again?

Harvard Medical School says that while we don't know the answer yet, most people would likely develop at least short-term immunity to the specific coronavirus that causes COVID-19. However, you would still be susceptible to a different coronavirus infection. Or, this particular virus could mutate, just like the influenza virus does each year. Often these mutations change the virus enough to make you susceptible, because your immune system thinks it is an infection that it has never seen before. --Source: Harvard Medical School

Is it safe to eat in restaurants during coronavirus?

According to Harvard Medical School, it's not clear if it can be spread by an infected person through food they have handled or prepared, but if so it would more likely be the exception than the rule. That said, the new coronavirus is a respiratory virus known to spread by upper respiratory secretions, including airborne droplets after coughing or sneezing. The virus that causes COVID-19 has also been detected in the stool of certain people. So we currently cannot rule out the possibility of the infection being transmitted through food by an infected person who has not thoroughly washed their hands. In the case of hot food, the virus would likely be killed by cooking. This may not be the case with uncooked foods like salads or sandwiches. --Source: Harvard Medical School

Can I go to the swimming pool during coronavirus? Does chlorine kill the virus?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. 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. --Source: CDC

What are the best things to clean with? 

For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. --Source: CDC

Can the coronavirus be transmitted through our pets? 

The Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine writes that “At this time, experts believe it is very unlikely. The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The CDC also seconds that opinion, stating that, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.” --Source: College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois/CDC

March 11, 2020

Can I get the coronavirus from food?

The USDA says that they are unaware of any cases of coronavirus being spread via food or food packaging. They also said that they are not aware of any meat being contaminated by coronavirus. 

If I do not have healthcare, and suspect that I may have coronavirus, what should I do?

According to Harvard Medical School, if you do not have a doctor and you are concerned that you or your child may have coronavirus, contact your local board of health. They can direct you to the best place for evaluation and treatment in your area.

The Contra Costa County Board of Health recommends that uninsured people who suspect they may have coronavirus call their advice nurse at (877)-661-6230. A support member on the advice nurse line said that after assessing callers for contact with infected people, or travel to and from impacted countries like China and Iran, and symptoms, they might recommend people go to the emergency room.

Harvard Medical School says that only people with symptoms of severe respiratory illness should seek medical care in the ER. Severe symptoms are rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, high or very low temperatures, confusion, trouble breathing, severe dehydration. Call ahead to tell the ER that you are coming so they can be prepared for your arrival.

March 10, 2020

Viewer Bob asked about whether water temperature matters when it comes to washing hands to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

According to the CDC, warm or cold water works, as long as you use soap. They cite 5 steps to proper handwashing technique:

1) Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2) Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

3) Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

4) Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5) Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If you can’t access soap and running water, they recommend using hand sanitizer.

“I have concerns about the Tony Robbins event being held at the SAP Center next week. This event has over 10,000 people registered to attend. This is a 4 day event where each day consists of 12-14 hour days. This event has people coming from all across the world. Over 10,000 people in an arena for 4 days at 12-14 hours a day, jumping up and down, hugging each other, high fiving, dancing and screaming chants sounds like a very high risk of infection to all that attend. If one person is unknowingly infected in this situation. That could spread this virus at an alarming rate in these 4 days. This is a huge health risk for everyone.”

KTVU got in touch with the SAP Center, and a representative confirmed that the Tony Robbins event is cancelled. The next scheduled SAP event is not until a Barracuda vs. Colorado hockey game on the 17th.

March 9, 2020

“Is it possible that this virus is man made? The Chinese government could have manufactured this virus using DNA leaving out a DNA to make it hard to cure?” -Thomas

This virus is not man-made, and has its origins in animals. It has not been manufactured by anyone. This coronavirus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats.The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.

Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Some international destinations now have apparent community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, as do some parts of the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed. 
--Source: CDC

“From what I have heard more people have died from the flu this year than the coronavirus. Why is the coronavirus so much more heard about in the news?” -Ranissa

According to Dr. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, the Senior Director of Infection Prevention at The Johns Hopkins Health System, although both the flu and the new coronavirus are infectious respiratory illnesses and can look similar, they are caused by different viruses, transmitted differently, and no vaccine exists for coronavirus.

While the flu is caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses, the coronavirus is caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.

“While both the flu and COVID-19 may be transmitted in similar ways, there is also a possible difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near,” Lockerd Maragakis wrote on the Hopkins Medicine website.

As far as treatment, neither the flu nor the coronavirus is treatable with antibiotics, which only work on bacterial infections. Both may be treated by addressing symptoms, such as reducing fever. While antiviral medications are currently being tested to see if they can address symptoms for coronavirus, antiviral medications can address symptoms and sometimes shorten the duration of the flu. 

No vaccine exists for coronavirus, although one is in progress. For the flu, a vaccine is available and effective to prevent some of the most dangerous strains or to reduce the severity of the flu.

“The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly,” Lockerd Maragakis wrote.”Since this disease is caused by a new virus, people do not have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be many months away. Doctors and scientists are working on estimating the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be higher than that of most strains of the flu.” --Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

What is the source of this virus? 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people. -- Source: CDC

How does the virus spread? 

This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious, like measles, while other viruses are less so.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. -- Source: CDC

Can someone who has COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. -- Source: CDC

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19? 

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. -- Source: CDC

What are the symptomns of coronavirus? 

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever1, cough, and difficulty breathing. -- Source: CDC

Should I get tested for coronavirus?
The CDC currently recommends that people who think they may have been exposed to coronavirus contact their healthcare provider immediately. They also recommend that if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, you contact your healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. -- Source  CDC

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