You asked, we’re answering: Your top questions about Covid-19 and vaccines
By CNN's Holly Yan
Updated July 20, 2021
CNN readers from around the world have asked more than 150,000 questions (and counting) about coronavirus. We’re reading as many as we can and answering some of the most popular questions here.
Search by topic or by keywords (below) to find answers to your questions. If you have a question we haven’t answered, ask us here. You can also subscribe to our newsletter, Coronavirus: Fact or Fiction, and listen to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s podcast to learn more.
My kids are too young to get vaccinated. Do I need to take extra precautions because my children aren’t vaccinated yet?
For parents who are fully vaccinated, “our risk of both getting sick and transmitting it to our children is low,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.
“But if you’re in an area where there’s a lot of infection, or if you’re worried about that risk of transmission, then wearing a mask — especially in indoor settings when you go out — is the right thing to do. That’s what I do,” said Murthy, the father of two toddlers.
“I want to take every possible measure to protect my child — even though the risk is low — given that I live in an area where there’s a lot of virus being transmitted.”
And with the dominance of the Delta variant, “it bears being cautious because this is being transmitted at a far higher rate than other versions of Covid-19,” the surgeon general said.
For parents who are not vaccinated, the risk of spreading coronavirus to young children is much higher. Murthy said those who are not fully vaccinated “are at great risk” of getting the Delta variant and should wear masks and avoid indoor gatherings until they are fully vaccinated.
Is it true children can’t get very sick from Covid-19? Or that children can’t spread coronavirus to others?
“Kids can transmit the virus. They are susceptible to it,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA.
In late June, more than 125 campers and adults who attended a Texas church’s summer camp for 6th through 12th graders tested positive for coronavirus.
“And hundreds of others were likely exposed when infected people returned home from camp,” the lead pastor of the church said.
At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, “We are seeing an increase in the number of hospitalizations of children,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs Dr. Alan Jones said.
“We’ve had infants as small as 6 to 8 months old up to the teenage years,” Jones said July 14.
“We do know in Mississippi that the predominant strain that’s circulating — probably 88% to 90% of it — is the Delta variant,” Jones said.
“That, associated with the fact that we are seeing a lot less mask usage now, is another variable that plays into the equation of why we’re seeing more” children in the hospital, he said.
“Finally, it appears as though this particular variant, the Delta variant, while being more infectious is also causing more children to be symptomatic,” Jones said.
“Whether that just is that it causes a little more severe illness than other variants or that it is just more prevalent — and so we’re seeing more symptomatic cases — we’re not sure. But it’s probably multifactorial and related to all of those things.”
Last summer, more than half the children ages 6 to 10 who attended a Georgia summer camp and got tested for coronavirus tested positive, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission,” wrote the CDC study’s authors.
And in Florida, the number of children hospitalized with Covid-19 surged 23% in eight days last summer – from 246 on July 16 to 303 on July 24.
Some youngsters have suffered long-term effects from Covid-19 or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) – a rare but potentially serious condition that can happen in children weeks after a coronavirus infection.
Is it true the Covid-19 vaccines don’t work as well in immunocompromised people? Does that mean they need more doses?
The vaccines require an immune system response to work, so millions of Americans who are immunocompromised or take drugs that suppress the immune system might not get as much protection from a vaccine as others do.
That’s why many Americans are counting on fellow Americans to get vaccinated to help protect them, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
People who are immunocompromised should be counseled about the potential for reduced immune responses to Covid-19 vaccines and follow prevention measures (including wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others they don’t live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces) to protect themselves against Covid-19 until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a July 16 update.
In that update, the CDC did not say whether immunocompromised people should get an extra dose of vaccine, but said “the safety, efficacy and benefit of additional doses for COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised persons continues to be evaluated.”
Some immunocompromised people have decided to get an extra dose of vaccine on their own. For some, antibodies increased; for others, they didn’t.
In June, researchers from Johns Hopkins University suggested that an extra shot may help increase Covid-19 antibody levels for some organ transplant recipients who did not have a full response to their original vaccinations.
I’m not feeling well, but I’ve already been vaccinated. Should I get tested for coronavirus?
If you think you might have Covid-19 symptoms, “please get tested regardless of your vaccination status,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.
“We know the symptoms of Covid-19 mimic the symptoms of the flu or cold initially. It can be a runny nose or fatigue or other such symptoms. In those cases, it is important for people to get tested.”
It’s impossible to get Covid-19 from a vaccine because there is no coronavirus in any of the vaccines used in the US.
But Covid-19 vaccines don’t take full effect until 2 weeks after your final dose — “so a person could get sick if the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Those who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to get infected than unvaccinated people, the CDC says. In addition, “COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading COVID-19.”
But while Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective, they’re not perfect. The vaccines require an immune system response to work, so millions of Americans who are immunocompromised or take drugs that suppress the immune system might not get as much protection from a vaccine as others do.
The good news: When rare breakthrough infections do happen in vaccinated people, they’re less severe, CDC research shows.
But it’s especially important for unvaccinated people who have Covid-19 symptoms to get tested. Unvaccinated people can spread coronavirus more easily than vaccinated people, the CDC says.
“We have seen that many people are not getting tested around the country even though they have symptoms,” Murthy said July 13.
“Many people are thinking, ‘Covid is over — why do I need to get tested?’ And this is particularly happening in areas, unfortunately, where the vaccination rates are low — which is where we want to be testing more.”
I’m vaccinated but just tested positive for coronavirus. What should I do?
“Fully vaccinated people should not visit private or public settings if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms,” the CDC says.
“It’s possible a person could be infected just before or just after vaccination and still get sick.”
But after a person is fully vaccinated — two weeks after their final dose — there is reduced risk of spreading Covid-19, the CDC says. Research shows vaccinated people who still get breakthrough infections have less detectable virus (viral load) than unvaccinated people who get infected.
Do we need Covid-19 vaccine booster shots? If not, how will we know when we might need them?
“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” said a July 8 joint statement from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration.
“We continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed,” the CDC and FDA said. “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”
The Israeli government said the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was about 95.3% effective against coronavirus infections in May. But in June, after the highly contagious Delta variant spread more widely, that number dropped to 64%, the Israeli government said in a brief statement July 5.
The vaccine was still 93% effective in preventing severe disease and Covid-19 hospitalizations, the Israeli government said, compared to 97% reported in the medical journal The Lancet in May.
Pfizer said it’s working to develop a booster dose that will protect people from variants.
So, while fully vaccinated people are still well protected, Pfizer and BioNTech are preparing for the possible need for a booster shot down the road, said Dr. Jerome Adams, former US Surgeon General under the Trump administration.
“The companies are thinking about where the hockey puck is going,” Adams said. “The government — FDA, CDC — are looking at where the hockey puck is right now. And they want to reassure Americans your best protection still is a vaccine, and you still have great protection – better than for the flu shot in any given year – even in the face of variants and waning immunity.”
As of April, research showed the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines stayed highly effective for at least six months (and counting).
In July, Johnson & Johnson said research showed its vaccine is effective for at least eight months (and counting).
“Obviously, the people that were in the (vaccine trial) studies that started in October or so, they’re being followed on a regular basis” to help determine how long vaccine immunity lasts, board-certified internist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said.
“But understand, vaccinations are your best bet right now,” Adams said. “They’re still incredibly effective. And if we have to get a booster, we just have to get a booster. We do that for the flu every single year, so people shouldn’t get too worked up about that.”
Is it safe to go on vacation?
“Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated,” the CDC says. Fully vaccinated means at least 2 weeks have passed since your last dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
For those traveling within the US, you “do NOT need to get tested or self-quarantine if you are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months. You should still follow all other travel recommendations,” the CDC says.
Americans traveling internationally should learn about the Covid-19 restrictions at their destination. Those flying back home to the US must provide proof that they have recently tested negative for coronavirus or recently recovered from Covid-19. They should also get a viral test 3 to 5 days after coming home, the CDC says.
For those who aren’t fully vaccinated but must travel, the guidelines are much tougher. The CDC says it’s important to wear a mask; get tested within three days before traveling; maintain physical distance from anyone not traveling with you; and quarantine for 10 days after you return home. (That quarantine period can be reduced to 7 days if you get tested 3 to 5 days after coming home.)
Do fully vaccinated people need to wear masks because of this Delta strain?
Health experts have varying stances on this.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not changed its mask guidance since the highly contagious Delta variant was found in all 50 states and Washington, DC.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic,” the CDC says. “You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart” – except in places where masks are required, such as on public transportation or in some workplaces.
For those ages 2 and up who aren’t fully vaccinated, “you should wear a mask in indoor public places,” the CDC says. Masks are also a good idea for unvaccinated people in crowded outdoor settings or in close contact with other people who aren’t fully vaccinated — especially in areas where coronavirus is rapidly spreading.
States with below-average vaccination rates have, on average, almost triple the rate of new Covid-19 cases compared to states with above-average vaccination rates, according to recent data from Johns Hopkins University.
In places of high Covid-19 spread, people who are fully vaccinated should still take precautions, such as wearing masks, a World Health Organization official said.
“People need to continue to use masks consistently, being in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette – everything … even if you are vaccinated, when you have community transmission ongoing,” WHO Assistant Director-General Dr. Mariangela Simao said June 25.
And because the vaccines are highly effective but not perfect, some health experts said they would keep wearing masks in certain places despite being fully vaccinated.
“If you’re in a low-infection, high-vaccination area, you don’t need to be wearing a mask indoors if you’re fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
But the Delta variant is surging in parts of the US, including southwest Missouri — where Covid-19 patients are filling up hospital beds and getting transferred to other hospitals.
“If I were in southwest Missouri right now, I’m fully vaccinated, but I would be wearing a mask indoors,” Jha said July 5.
When can younger kids get a Covid-19 vaccine?
One vaccine is already available for children ages 12 and up, and clinical trials are underway for younger children.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is the only one currently authorized for people ages 12 and up. The vaccine is now being tested in children between 6 months and 11 years old. If all goes well, Pfizer said, it plans to ask the US Food and Drug Administration in September to authorize the vaccine for children ages 2 to 11 years.
Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for adults 18 and older. In May, the company said early trial data showed the vaccine is safe and appears to be effective in 12- to 17-year-olds. In June, Moderna said it has asked the FDA to authorize its vaccine for the 12-to-17 age group.
Moderna is also testing various doses of its vaccine in younger children between ages 6 months through 11 years. If all goes well, Moderna said, children under age 12 could be eligible for the vaccine this winter or in early 2022.
Johnson & Johnson said it plans to start testing its Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents starting this fall. Its single-dose vaccine is currently authorized for adults ages 18 and up.
J&J said it’s planning four late-stage vaccine trials for children. This first trial will focus on 12- to 17-year-olds, and the others will expand to include younger children. In total, J&J plans to enroll a minimum of 4,500 pediatric participants up to age 17.
“To keep children safe, and ultimately to achieve herd immunity, it is imperative that COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials continue to move forward in this population,” J&J said in a July 1 email to CNN.
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 your child’s mask hesitancy, 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 a good idea to set an 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.
What is the Delta variant? Is it worse than other strains of coronavirus?
The Delta variant is the B.1.617.2 strain of coronavirus first identified in India that’s now the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of July 20, the Delta variant made up 83% of sequenced coronavirus samples in the US. “This is a dramatic increase, up from 50% for the week of July 3,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
The Delta variant has a cluster of mutations, including one known as L452R, that helps it infect human cells more easily.
“This variant is even more transmissible than the UK (Alpha) variant, which was more transmissible than the version of the virus we were dealing with last year,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.
In addition to increased transmissibility, “it may be associated with an increased disease severity, such as hospitalization risk,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
An analysis of 38,805 sequenced cases in England showed the Delta variant carried 2.61 times the risk of hospitalization within 14 days compared with the Alpha variant, when variables such as age, sex, ethnicity and vaccination status were taken into consideration.
By mid-June, the Delta variant accounted for 99% of Covid-19 cases in the UK, according to Public Health England.
Do vaccines work against the Delta variant?
Yes, research suggests – as long as you’re fully vaccinated and don’t skip a dose.
Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offered 88% protection against symptomatic Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in late June.
But those who got only one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had just 33% protection against the Delta variant, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.
“The key is: Get vaccinated. Get both doses,” Murthy said.
Moderna’s two-dose vaccine was found in lab experiments to work against new variants such as the Delta strain, the company said. Scientists used serum samples from eight participants taken a week after they received their second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
And researchers say the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine also appears to work against the Delta variant. The researchers studied blood taken from eight vaccinated volunteers and tested it against an engineered version of the spike protein of the Delta variant.
“A single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generated neutralizing antibodies against a range of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, which increased over time, including against the increasingly prevalent and more transmissible Delta (B.1.617.2) variant,” Johnson & Johnson said on July 1.
But the Delta variant is more contagious than both the original strain of novel coronavirus and the Alpha (B.1.1.7) strain, the surgeon general said.
“It’s yet another reason to get vaccinated quickly,” Murthy said.
What's the difference between the Delta and Delta Plus variants?
The Delta Plus variant (B.1.617.2.1) is a new and slightly changed offshoot of the highly contagious Delta variant (B.1.617.2).
All variants carry clusters of mutations. Delta Plus is different from Delta because it has an extra mutation called K417N. That mutation affects the spike protein – the part of the virus that attaches to human cells it infects.
The Indian government’s Covid-19 genome sequencing body said the Delta Plus variant exhibits several worrying traits such as increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, and a potential reduction in antibody response.
It’s not yet clear what effect the mutation may have on vaccine efficacy. But it could give the variant “significant vaccine escape properties,” warned Julian Tang, professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester.
Most of the coronavirus vaccines are designed to train the body to recognize the spike protein, or parts of it – which is where Delta Plus’ extra mutation is.
But there isn’t enough evidence to determine anything conclusively yet. The World Health Organization is tracking Delta Plus to determine its transmissibility and severity, said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19.
The US is among at least 11 countries that have reported cases of the emerging Delta Plus variant. But Delta Plus has not made up a significant share of sequenced Covid-19 cases in the US, according to June data from the CDC.
In late June, the genetic sequencing company Helix said it has seen some intermittent cases of the Delta Plus variant in the US.
Why do we keep getting more contagious variants?
The more people who get infected with a virus, the more chances the virus has to evolve through mutation.
Viruses mutate all the time as they replicate in people who are infected. Some mutations aren’t very important. But if the mutations are significant, they can lead to more contagious or more dangerous new variants of a virus.
“Think of a virus as a necklace full of different-colored beads,” board-certified internist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said.
“And in position No. 1, you need a red bead. Position No. 2 is a green bead. That’s the genetic code – that sequence of bead colors,” he said.
“When a virus replicates, it is supposed to make an exact replica of those bead colors. But every once in a while, maybe a green bead gets into where a red bead is supposed to be.”
When mutations give the virus an advantage — such as the ability to replicate faster, or to hide from the immune system – that version will outcompete others.
The only way to get rid of variants is to lower the number of infections, said Penny Moore, an expert in viruses at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
That’s a big reason why doctors urge people to get vaccinated as soon as they can. Those who don’t get vaccinated aren’t just risking their own health — they’re also jeopardizing the health of others, infectious disease specialists say.
“Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply.”
What should I tell friends, family or coworkers who are hesitant to get vaccinated?
“It is a normal human reaction to be afraid,” pediatrician Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez said. “They’re having a normal reaction, and perhaps they haven’t been able to sit down with their physician.”
She suggests finding a time to have a calm, rational conversation — when neither person is angry or likely to start a fight.
“The first thing I would say is ‘I get it. I totally get where you’re coming from and I understand that you’re concerned about this,’” Bracho-Sanchez said.
It’s also important to cite scientific data — like the truth about side effects, the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and why it’s important for young, healthy people to get vaccinated.
How long does immunity last if you recover from Covid-19?
Research is still evolving, but a recent study examining antibodies suggests you could be immune for months after infection.
“Although this cannot provide conclusive evidence that these antibody responses protect from reinfection, we believe it is very likely that they will decrease the odds ratio of reinfection,” researchers from Mount Sinai wrote.
“It is still unclear if infection with SARS-CoV-2 [the scientific name for the novel coronavirus] in humans protects from reinfection and for how long.”
There have been some reports of people getting infected twice within several months. Doctors said a 25-year-old Nevada man appeared to be the first documented case of Covid-19 reinfection in the US. He was first diagnosed in April 2020, then recovered and tested negative twice. About a month later, he tested positive again.
A separate team of researchers said a 33-year-old man living in Hong Kong had Covid-19 twice, in March and August of 2020.
Last year, an 89-year-old Dutch woman – who also had a rare white blood cell cancer – died after catching Covid-19 twice, experts said. She became the first known person to die after getting reinfected.
If I already had Covid-19, should I still get vaccinated?
“Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19,” the CDC says.
“That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.”
“There are actually six other coronaviruses – 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,” epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant said.
“Many of the vaccines that we’ve made in history are actually stronger than the virus is itself at creating immunity.”
Could I get coronavirus from the Covid-19 vaccine?
It’s literally impossible to get Covid-19 from any of the vaccines used in the US because none of them contains even a piece of actual coronavirus.
How good are these vaccines? Why should I get a Johnson & Johnson vaccine if the numbers don’t seem as good as the others?
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been shown to give about 95% protection against symptomatic Covid-19, and both are virtually 100% effective against severe Covid-19 illness. In their clinical trials, no one who was vaccinated died from Covid-19.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 72% effective against Covid-19 among US trial participants and 85% effective against severe Covid-19. Like the other two vaccines, no one who was vaccinated during the clinical trial died from Covid-19.
But Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was tested later – when coronavirus cases were surging and new variant strains were spreading more widely.
And unlike the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, which require two doses, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.
Will Americans be required to get a Covid-19 vaccine? What happens if I don’t get vaccinated?
Dr. Anthony Fauci said he does not foresee a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
But if only half of all Americans are willing to get vaccinated, Covid-19 could stick around for years, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
Health experts say if you don’t get a vaccine, the consequences will extend far beyond yourself — even if you’re young and healthy now. Not only would you be more vulnerable to getting severely sick with Covid-19 or “long Covid” — it will also be harder to achieve herd immunity through vaccination.
In other words: Getting a vaccine is critical for slowing or possibly ending this pandemic. And that will help everyone get back to normal, faster.
How much does a Covid-19 vaccine cost?
“It’s all free. The government is paying for this,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia
I know vaccines help prevent people from getting *sick* with coronavirus. But do they also prevent people from *carrying* the virus and infecting others?
There’s growing evidence suggesting vaccines could also help prevent you from spreading coronavirus. But the CDC says there’s not enough data yet to prove whether vaccinated people could still carry the virus and infect others.
Moderna said its vaccine may be able to prevent infection and transmission.
“What Moderna did … is they took some extra samples, or test swabs, from the subject in the clinical trial between the first and second dose of vaccine. Remember, they give you two doses, and after four weeks they get that second dose of vaccine,” said Dr. Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
“They looked at these samples, and they found out that more people who received the placebo dose got infected from the coronavirus than the people who get the vaccine dose. That means the first dose of vaccine actually could be offering some level of protection against infection – not just protection from severe illness,” he said.
“So, if this plays out in a larger study, in a larger analysis, it could be very compelling to show that these vaccines could have impact over this protection of infection.”
(But you should not skip your second dose of a two-dose vaccine. Here’s why.)
A study from the UK suggests the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been authorized for use in the US, might also help slow the spread of coronavirus. Researchers measured transmission by swabbing some participants for the virus every week. They found that the rate of positive tests declined by about half after two doses of the vaccine.
The FDA said it’s not yet clear whether the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine prevents people from infecting others.
“Most vaccines that protect from viral illnesses also reduce transmission of the virus that causes the disease by those who are vaccinated,” the FDA said. “While it is hoped this will be the case, the scientific community does not yet know if the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will reduce such transmission.”
What are the side effects of the vaccines?
Some people have reported feeling temporary, flu-like symptoms. Don’t freak out if this happens to you, health experts say.
“These are immune responses, so if you feel something after vaccination, you should expect to feel that” said Patricia Stinchfield of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
“And when you do, it’s normal that you have some arm soreness or some fatigue or some body aches or even some fever,” Stinchfield said.
Read more about what to do if you do get side effects and why side effects are often a good sign.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has shown no serious safety concerns, Pfizer said. Pfizer has said side effects “such as fever, fatigue and chills” have been “generally mild to moderate” and lasted one to two days.
Moderna said its vaccine did not have any serious side effects. It said a small percentage of trial participants had symptoms such as body aches and headaches.
With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the most common side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, and muscle pain. While the CDC recommends the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare but increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS),” the agency says. “TTS is a serious condition that involves blood clots with low platelets. There are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen.”
What are the long-term effects of coronavirus?
Some Covid-19 survivors have reported 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.
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.
“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.
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.
Last 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.
This pandemic is taking a toll on my mental health. How can I get help if I’m feeling isolated and depressed?
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.
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.
What are the guidelines for riding in a car with someone from another household?
Unvaccinated people from different households in a car 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.
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 — keep 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.
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.”
If a pregnant woman gets Covid-19, will her baby be infected? Can babies get coronavirus through breastfeeding?
About 2% to 5% of babies born to mothers with Covid-19 tested positive for coronavirus within the first four days of life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
But infected mothers are unlikely to pass coronavirus to their newborns when appropriate precautions are taken, according to a study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
In that study, researchers found no cases of viral transmission among 120 babies born to 116 mothers with coronavirus — even when both shared a room and the mothers breastfed.
But the babies remained 6 feet apart from their mothers, except while breastfeeding. The moms also wore surgical masks when handling their newborns and followed proper hand and breast washing procedures.
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.”
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
Is it safe to go back to the gym?
There are certainly risks if you’re not vaccinated.
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 limiting capacity or requiring masks.
And 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.
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 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 vaccinated or not in a high-risk situation, 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).
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 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.”
Doesn’t the flu kill more people than coronavirus?
No. In fact, Covid-19 has killed more people in one year than the flu did during the last five flu seasons combined.
During the 2019-2020 flu season, an estimated 22,000 people in the US died from the flu, according to the CDC.
With Covid-19, the first known US death was in February 2020. By January 27, more than 427,000 people had died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Covid-19 has now taken more than half a million US lives.
There are other reasons why coronavirus can be more dangerous than the flu:
- Coronavirus is twice as contagious as the flu. Research indicates a person with the flu infects an average of 1.28 other people, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. With coronavirus, “it’s likely between 2 and 3” other people. But mitigation efforts can drastically reduce that number.
- Coronavirus can be spread unknowingly for more days than the flu. People with coronavirus might not get symptoms for 14 days, and some get no symptoms at all. But they can still infect others unknowingly. The incubation period for the flu is shorter, and most people get symptoms within two days of infection.
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.
Doctors say the easiest way to help avoid a flu/Covid-19 double whammy is to get vaccinated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 keyway 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 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 regard to energy, but the more outside air we bring in, the more dilution of the virus we have and then the safer you are.”
What does asymptomatic mean?
Asymptomatic describes a person who is infected but does not have symptoms. With Covid-19, asymptomatic carriers can still easily infect others without knowing it. So, if you’re infected but don’t feel sick, you could still get others very sick.
Some medical professionals differentiate between truly asymptomatic carriers – those who don’t currently have and will never have symptoms – from “pre-symptomatic” carriers – those who don’t have symptoms now but will get them later. But the general public often uses the term “asymptomatic” to describe both categories of infected people.
Regardless of which term you use, researchers have found that about half of coronavirus transmissions happen between people who don’t have any symptoms. And in some cases, people are more contagious before they start showing symptoms.
How effective are different types of face masks? Which cloth masks work the best?
An N95 respirator provides the best protection. But throughout the pandemic, N95s have been in high demand and short supply.
As for other masks, 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.
What’s so different about coronavirus that made us shut down the economy? Why did we have to practice social distancing 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.”
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, they 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.
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.
“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.”
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 new coronavirus, including:
- It’s easy to spread this virus by just talking or breathing.
- This coronavirus is highly contagious. Without mitigation efforts like stay-at-home orders, each person with coronavirus infects, on average, another two to three other people. That makes it twice as contagious as the flu.
- This virus has a long incubation period – up to 14 days – giving a wide window of opportunity for people to infect others before they even know they’re infected.
- Carriers may be most contagious in the 48 hours before they get symptoms, making transmission even more blind.
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.
How can I stay safe in an elevator?
Doctors say getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent coronavirus infection.
If you’re not vaccinated, 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.
How safe are public restrooms?
For those not fully vaccinated, try to avoid public restrooms if you can, 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:
- 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I saw other countries spraying down sidewalks and other public places with disinfectant. Why haven’t we done 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.
Will protests increase the spread of Covid-19?
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 important to get vaccinated or wear a face mask and try to keep your distance from others as much as possible.
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.
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 medicine 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 sanitizer or disinfectant.
And since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, make sure you avoid touching your face.
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.
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.
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.
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 way coronavirus can 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.
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.
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?
Most of those infections came from contact with humans 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.
What is contact tracing?
This “Contact tracing 101” article explains how contact tracing works, how it quashed previous outbreaks, who can get hired, and why tracing is critical to helping reopen economies.
But the US hasn’t been doing nearly enough contact tracing, experts say. Here’s why
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.”
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.”
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 doorknobs. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Can you safely reuse a non-cloth mask that you can’t wash, like a disposable mask?
Yes you can, said Dr. Joseph Vinetz, an infectious diseases professor at Yale School of Medicine.
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.
You can reuse cloth masks, too. Just launder them between each use on a high-heat setting.
Learn more about which masks you shouldn’t buy and how you can make your own (without having to sew) here.
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?
“That’s a bad idea,” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, an infectious diseases professor at Emory University School of Medicine. “It could definitely kill you.”
Former President Donald Trump wondered aloud during a press conference whether there’s “a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”
But the Reckitt Benckiser Group, which produces Lysol cleaning products, said “under no circumstance” should disinfectants be put into the human body.
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 had 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.
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 coronavirus 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.”
Will an antibody test show whether I’m immune and can go back to work or school?
Not necessarily. Antibodies are a body’s response to bacteria or viruses. But this novel coronavirus is so new, it’s still not clear whether having antibodies to it means you have long-term protection from getting reinfected.
“The thing we don’t know yet is what is the relationship between the level of antibody and the degree of your protection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Snapchat’s “Good Luck America” show.
“So, you may be positive for an antibody, but not enough to protect you.”
There’s also a risk that some antibody tests might confuse the novel coronavirus with other coronaviruses, like the ones that cause the common cold.
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
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.
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.”
My teenagers aren’t taking this seriously. Any advice?
Coronavirus isn’t just infecting young people. It’s killing young, healthy people as well.
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.
“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.”
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.
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 might be closed, or open only for emergencies involving abuse or endangerment. So, it might be difficult to formally modify pre-existing custody agreements.
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.
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.
Will a pneumonia or flu vaccine help protect against coronavirus?
Some cases of coronavirus do lead to pneumonia. But the pneumonia vaccine won’t help.
“Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, only help protect people from these specific bacterial infections,” according to Harvard Medical School.
“They do not protect against any coronavirus pneumonia.”
Should I wear a face mask in public? If so, how do I make one?
For unvaccinated people, 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).”
There are several key points:
- You can easily make your own mask without knowing how to sew. US Surgeon General Jerome Adams shows how to make face masks with just a T-shirt and rubber bands in this CDC video. You can also use a bandana and a coffee filter.
- You can still get coronavirus even if you wear a mask. The virus can stay alive on surfaces for up to 3 days, and it’s easy to touch your face whenever you’re not wearing a mask. Also, people often adjust face masks frequently, leading to more touching of the face — a common way that coronavirus spreads.
- It’s important to wash your cloth mask after every use. Here’s how.
- Wearing cloth masks is just “an additional, voluntary public health measure,” the CDC said. To protect yourself from getting coronavirus, it’s critical to stay at least 6 feet away from others, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time, and stop touching your face.
Why is it so difficult to make a drug to cure coronavirus?
An antiviral drug must be able to target the specific part of a virus’ 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.”
Why have medical workers gotten sick with or died from coronavirus if they’re wearing protective gear? Does the viral load matter?
Some have resorted to using plastic report covers as masks. The CDC said medical providers might have to use expired masks or reuse them between multiple patients.
But it’s not just subpar protective gear that puts medical workers at risk. It’s also the amount of virus they’re exposed to.
“The viral load — the amount of virus – does determine the severity of your illness,” emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen said. “So that could happen in the case of health care workers who are exposed to a lot more Covid-19 as a result of their work — that they get more severely ill.”
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 March 2020, 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.
Other 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
What are the symptoms?
Fatigue, fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing, and the loss of taste or smell are some of the symptoms of Covid-19.
Symptoms can 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.
What can I do if my loved one thinks he or she has coronavirus?
Don’t visit family members with suspected illness – connect with them virtually. If that person lives with you, limit contact with them and avoid using the same bathroom or bedroom if possible, the CDC advises.
If the person been diagnosed, he or she might 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.
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 think you’re developing symptoms, stay home and call your physician.
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.
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
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.
Can I be fired if I stay home sick?
But there are exceptions. Employers who make workers with Covid-19 come in may be violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] regulations, said Donna Ballman, who heads an employee advocacy law firm in Florida.
What happens when workers don't get paid sick leave?
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 Covid-19, and some already have
Can managers send a sick worker home?
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.
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.
Health experts suggest eating, drinking, and using the restroom before getting on the plane, to eliminate the need to take off your mask or go into a cramped lavatory on board.
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.”
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 coronavirus, 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.
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.
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 or colloidal silver.
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.
Why was the US been so far behind other countries with testing?
Experts said cuts in federal funding for public health and problems with early testing forced the US to play catch-up.
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.
If a coronavirus patient gets pneumonia, what antibiotics have proven to be effective?
No antibiotics are effective against Covid-19 because the disease is caused by 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 novel coronavirus.
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%.
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.
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.
Velandy Manohar, MD
Distinguished Life Fellow, Am Psychiatric Assoc.
Med. Director-CT Aware Recovery Care