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I came across a research that stated, the most disease ridden place in a toilet is actually the air dryer. The hot and moist microcosm that develops around the dryer due to frequent use helps in breading germs.
If I were to consider the research accurate and implement the same logic on masks. The stuffy environment created around the mouth and nose due to a sweaty day wearing masks has the same, if not way better chances of breeding or maintaining germs, doesn't it?
Doesn't the constant moisture from our breath, trapped within the confines of a mask, make for a denser moist environment for microbes? Similar to those found around air dryers?
Viruses "breed" (replicate) within infected cells, not within masks. Other kinds of microbes such as bacteria could breed within masks provided they find substances they can feed on in this environment.
Sars-Cov-2 has been shown to survive for extended periods of time (hours) on various types of surfaces. There is no reason why masks would be different. The following study found that Sars-Cov-2 remains viable up to 72 hours on plastic. Surgical masks are typically made of polypropylene or other polymers.
However, a more recent study found that Sars-Cov-2 is unlikely to remain viable for extended periods of time on porous material such as fabric.
Also to this day the following study appears to be the only one documenting a case of indirect contamination.
(Obviously, I cannot prove the non-existence of other such studies.)
As a result, droplets and aerosols (smaller droplets that remain suspended in the air) are thought to be the main vectors of contamination. Secondary contamination due to contact with a contaminated surface is thought to be a rare occurrence.
In the case of masks, one would probably have to touch a mask which has been recently worn and not wash their hands afterwards in order to be contaminated. It seems unlikely to me that this would be vector of transmission.
Is the stuffy environment due to using masks all day, helping in spread corona virus in people? - Biology
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10 Tips to Relieve Your Runny Nose or Nasal Congestion
Got a case of the sniffles? Chances are that your nose is running faster than a waterfall. Or maybe your nose feels all stuffed up, forcing you to breathe out of your mouth. Or worse-both. A runny nose and nasal congestion are both uncomfortable upper respiratory symptoms with their own underlying causes. But once they start, you want relief, fast.
A runny nose is a discharge of mucus from the nostrils. It’s the result of excess nasal mucus production. The excess nasal mucus leads to watery nasal secretions that flow out of your nostrils or drip down into your throat.
Nasal congestion is due to the inflammation of the linings of the nasal cavity. Swollen nasal passages constrict air flow, making it harder to breathe through your nose. The inflammation also makes it harder to get mucus out of your nose, so you may also have a build-up of thick, dry mucus, as well. It causes you to feel stuffed up, which is why it’s also referred to as a stuffy nose.
The common cold and the flu are often the culprits of a runny nose and/or nasal congestion, 1 but they can both also be caused by allergies.
These are not the only symptom of the cold or flu. You may also experience other associated symptoms, like sneezing, coughing, chest congestion, a sore throat, headaches, and body aches.
Find out how to relieve your upper-respiratory symptoms like nasal congestion and runny nose so you can feel better fast.
What We Do Know
The coronavirus is primarily transmitted person to person via respiratory spray. Staying away from people (social distancing) and decreasing the germs being transmitted between people are both ways to decrease the spread of the virus. While high quality research regarding mask use is limited, all of the data supports mask wearing as a key public health measure to decrease viral spread.
Are Masks 100% Effective?
The gold standard N-95 mask is 95% effective at keeping the wearer free of inhaling viral particles. These masks are still best reserved for front-line workers in high risk settings where aerosols of viral particles occur. Surgical masks are less effective and cloth face coverings even less so in protecting the wearer. However even a 50% reduction in viral transmission is statistically important.
For the general public, the reason for wearing a facial covering is to help protect others from you when you cough, sneeze or even talk and spray viral droplets into the air. Many people who become infected can unknowingly spread the COVID-19 virus because they have few or no symptoms. So wearing a mask is showing respect for others and is your way of helping lessen the spread of the disease. It is important that the mask not be so thick as to make breathing through them completely uncomfortable. Filter inserts are probably not necessary and may make the masks more uncomfortable.
"Mask wearing allows us to open the economy up faster. Not wearing a mask around others only worsens the pandemic, leads to more disease, and worsens the economic effects."
Do Masks Cause Low Oxygen Levels?
Absolutely not. We wear masks all day long in the hospital. The masks are designed to be breathed through and there is no evidence that low oxygen levels occur. There is some evidence, however, that prolonged use of N-95 masks in patients with preexisting lung disease could cause some build-up of carbon dioxide levels in the body. People with preexisting lung problems should discuss mask wearing concerns with their health care providers. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that mask wearing or physical distancing weakens the immune system.
So What Should You Do?
Decreasing the severity of the pandemic is about statistics. If you desire 100% avoidance of infection, the only way to achieve it is to isolate yourself completely. That is not practical or mentally helpful for the vast majority of people. The next steps are to do things which limit the likelihood of spread from person to person. These include distancing and mask wearing.
The further away you are from an infected patient, the less likely you are to get the virus. Six feet is better than two feet and 12 feet is probably better than six. At some point the distance away becomes statistically meaningless. Unfortunately, there is no absolute correct number. Airflow (indoor, outdoor, ventilation, wind, etc), temperature, humidity, the viral load being produced by the infected person and the susceptibility of the uninfected person all play a role in how far apart you need to be.
Masks are not 100% effective, but mask wearing does decrease the risk of viral spread. Public health professionals believe that mask wearing and social distancing are the keys to controlling the first wave and diminishing or avoiding subsequent waves of the virus. Mask wearing allows us to open the economy up faster. Not wearing a mask around others only worsens the pandemic, leads to more disease, and worsens the economic effects.
Read this blog in Spanish (PDF)
Note: Dr. Hill offers updates in related article
You're Touching the Mask With Dirty Hands
"If you contaminate your mask even from the outside, you can get easily infected," says physician Dimitar Marinov , MD, Ph.D.
"Taking off your face mask and then reapplying it with contaminated hands can move the bacteria or virus directly into the breathable area," says Jared Heathman , MD, a Texas-based psychiatrist.
The Rx: Make sure your hands are clean before adjusting the mask. It's best to avoid touching your face in general.
Experts say cloth masks need to be sanitized after each use
Canadians are growing more accustomed to wearing cloth face masks while walking around their neighbourhoods or running errands during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But if those masks aren't being sanitized regularly, experts say they won't be as effective.
Dr. Lisa Bryski, an emergency room physician in Winnipeg, says we should be treating our cloth masks just as we would our hands.
That means washing them every time we come in from outside. And not just a quick rinse.
"There's a difference between cleaning and sanitizing," Bryski said. "Cleaning is where you just take the visible dirt off a surface whereas sanitizing is when you kill whatever (is on the surface) to make it healthy for contact with a human.
"Once you take a mask off, you've got the inner area of it exposed to the environment. And that area now has just as much risk of passing a virus along as the outer area that had been your barrier."
Cloth masks can be useful in keeping novel coronavirus droplets from travelling from a person's nose or mouth into the air, where they can potentially infect others.
Because asymptomatic people can still spread COVID-19 without knowing they have it, it's best to think of a mask -- and both of its sides -- as a potential hazardous material, says Prof. Dasantila Golemi-Kotra, an expert in molecular biology at Toronto's York University.
"Treat it as though its carrying virus particles," said Golemi-Kotra, adding that washing our hands after handling a used mask is also important.
"If you're not washing your mask and you're just leaving it somewhere, those (particles) get into the environment that you're living in."
Golemi-Kotra says the best way to sanitize a cloth mask is to let it soak in warm soapy water for at least an hour. Bryski, meanwhile, says a 20-second wash in hot water -- also the recommended time for hand-washing -- should be enough.
The key, Bryski says, is the soap: "the little superhero in all of this."
"Water alone doesn't really break up that attraction that the virus has for the skin, but soap outcompetes the virus and also is good at breaking up the lipid barrier of the virus," she said. "So it's kind of a double whammy."
Cloth masks can also be sanitized in the washing machine with hot water and regular detergent. Bleach can be added to ensure an extra clean, but its not necessary.
"The effect (of bleach) is pretty much the same as an effective detergent -- removing organic matter out of the cloth," Golemi-Kotra said. "The detergent itself actually physically gets into the virus particles and disrupts it to the point of disintegration."
Satinder Kaur Brar, an expert in environmental biotechnology and decontamination at York University, says bleach can actually cause more harm than good if it's not properly washed away.
"It could lead to skin problems, especially for kids if they're using those masks," she said. "So I would rather suggest using a normal soap."
Drying cloth masks is another important step in the sanitation process. A clothes dryer, with heat acting as an additional element in killing the virus, is the best bet.
Those without access to a dryer can hang their wet masks in a safe space, and a quick ironing can also provide an extra heat boost. Bryski warns people to make sure a mask is fully dried before wearing it again though, as mould can grow on damp surfaces.
While some on social media have suggested using a microwave to sanitize masks, experts say that's not advisable. It can also be dangerous, especially with surgical masks and N95s that contain metal strips to help form them to your face.
Swirling masks around in boiling water -- especially without soap -- or putting them in the dishwasher, is also ineffective, Bryski said.
"(A dishwasher) is not going to agitate the material and it might get caught up in the mechanism somewhere and cause electrical problems that may be disastrous," she said. "And you don't want to microwave your mask, there's not any proof that's going to be useful and it might actually harm the material."
Masks may become more commonplace in Canada as some grocers nationwide are now advising shoppers to wear them in their stores. Hair salons that recently re-opened in Manitoba are also asking clients to wear masks during their appointments.
Experts suggest making or buying two or three cloth masks that can be switched out when one is being sanitized.
"Kind of like underwear, we're recirculating, putting on a fresh pair," Bryski said. "So we've got to do that with our face hygiene too."
Golemi-Kotra says it's best to create a habit out of mask-washing so we remember to do it after each use.
And sanitizing should be done whether or not we're coming into contact with other people while wearing our masks.
"You use a mask, you wash it afterwards," Golemi-Kotra said. "You may think, 'Oh I'm just going for a walk I don't have to wash it,' but when you make something a habit, the risk of becoming complacent is much smaller."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante wears a protective mask during a news conference in Montreal on May 5, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Why scientists say wearing masks shouldn’t be controversial
Whether or not to wear a mask has become controversial in the United States. But data indicate that if everyone wore a mask while in public and maintained appropriate social distance, like these shoppers at a farmers market in Davis, Calif., the spread of coronavirus could be reduced.
AlessandraRCstock/Alamy Stock Photo
To mask or not to mask? To the dismay of many public health experts, that remains a question up for debate in the United States even as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that everyone wear masks when in public to curb the spread of COVID-19. But as lockdowns have lifted, many people haven’t followed that advice, and case numbers are rising in some states. In response, some states like California have made wearing face coverings mandatory in public. But in Nebraska, the governor has blocked city- and county-level efforts to require wearing masks in public. Other states, such as Texas, recommend, but don’t require face coverings in public, though some counties within the state are requiring masks.
At the individual level, some people have protested that their personal freedoms are being infringed upon by being told to cover their mouths and noses. Others are masking up whenever they leave their homes.
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Meanwhile, scientists have been collecting data on whether cloth masks worn by members of the general public can cut down on the spread of the coronavirus. Science News rounded up the latest data and talked to experts about how well these masks really protect against the coronavirus.
Why are masks now recommended by public health experts?
At the beginning of the outbreak, public health officials thought that the virus was primarily transmitted by people touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching their face. Regular handwashing and refraining from touching your face were the main prescriptions (SN: 3/4/20). The CDC and the World Health Organization both at first said that healthy people didn’t need to wear masks.
But it has become clear that contact with virus-laden objects isn’t the major way that the coronavirus passes from person to person, says immunologist Robert Quigley. He is senior vice president and regional medical director of International SOS, a company based in Trevose, Penn., that helps devise strategies for mitigating medical and security risks. Instead, researchers now think COVID-19 is spread mainly by someone inhaling the virus expelled by another person.
That explains the reasoning behind the CDC’s recommendation that everyone wear a mask in public: The covering may lessen the risk of mask wearers who don’t know they’re infected from passing the virus to someone else.
“We believe now that we are learning more about this novel virus that there is transmission from asymptomatic individuals,” Quigley says. Studies have determined that people can transmit the virus for a couple of days before symptoms start, and that some people who never develop symptoms can be contagious (SN: 6/9/20).
In Singapore, researchers used contact-tracing data to estimate that about 40 to 50 percent of COVID-19 cases from January 23 to February 26 were transmitted by people who weren’t yet having symptoms. The same team found that in Tianjin, China, the amount of such presymptomatic transmission was even higher. From January 21 to February 22, 60 to 80 percent of cases were attributed to spread before symptoms appeared, the researchers report June 22 in eLife.
Since even seemingly healthy people can spread COVID-19 if they’re infected but don’t know it, health officials now recommend that everyone wear masks in public.
In many places in the United States, face coverings are now required when out in public. Studies indicate such measures can help stop the coronavirus from spreading. Sarah Morris/Getty Images
Is there evidence that a cloth mask can block virus spread?
Many studies have tested surgical masks and N95 masks and found that they reduce viral spread, but until now, there hasn’t been much evidence that cloth masks also work (SN: 4/9/20).
Matthew Staymates, a mechanical engineer and fluid dynamicist at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., usually works on devising ways to detect narcotics and other illicit substances in the air. But while he was on mandatory telework, Staymates found he missed doing experiments. So he convinced his supervisors to let him bring home some equipment so he could evaluate whether cloth masks cut down on the number of potentially virus-laden particles that spew from people’s mouths and noses when they talk, cough or breathe.
He set up the apparatus in his woodshop and filmed himself coughing without and with a mask. He ultimately tested 26 types of cloth mask, including ones made from common sewing fabrics like lightweight flannel, cotton T-shirts, quilting cotton, cotton-polyester blends and polypropylene from reusable shopping bags.
Staymates didn’t use any viruses in his experiments, so he can’t say whether one type of mask does a better job of catching viruses than another. But using high-speed visualizations, he could determine which masks blocked the trajectory of air coming from his lungs when he coughed or talked.
Wearing any face covering, including bandanas or neck warmers, could at least partially block the cloud of droplets released in a cough, the experiment showed. Masks that are fitted to the nose, cheeks and chin did a better job of blocking droplet flow, and, theoretically, of stopping viruses, too, Staymates describes in a blog post on the NIST website.
Provided that people wear the masks properly, that is. “At one point, I pulled my mask down below my nose in the video” and coughed, he says. The video showed a jet of air streaming from his nose as he coughed. “I was stunned when I saw that footage,” he says. “I was really surprised at how much air comes out of your nose when you cough.” Now when he sees people with their masks covering their mouths, but not their noses, “I [think] ‘No. Don’t do that. You’re defeating the purpose,’” he says.
Does a cloth mask prevent me from catching the virus from someone else?
Alone, cloth masks aren’t great at protecting the wearer, says Abba Gumel, a mathematical biologist at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Cloth masks can vary widely in the amount of particles, including virus, they prevent from reaching the mask wearer. The best cloth masks, which are fitted to the face and made of optimal materials, such as tightly woven cotton, might block up to 80 percent of particles, while most — especially masks that aren’t fitted properly, or made of flimsy material — filter out only about 20 to 50 percent of particles, he says. But even the lowest efficiency mask, “is still better than nothing,” Gumel says.
Cloth masks are for protecting other people from you, Quigley stresses. “Let’s make no bones about it the cloth mask is not anywhere near as effective in preventing one from inhaling the coronavirus compared with a medical-grade N95 mask,” he says.
Surgical masks may block 70 to 90 percent of infectious particles from reaching the wearer, and N95 masks filter out more than 95 percent, Gumel says. Medical-grade N95 masks have been in short supply and should be reserved for health care workers and others who are high risk of being exposed to the coronavirus, he and other experts agree.
Masks are better at shielding others from the mask wearer than at protecting the wearer because when someone wearing a face covering breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes, most of the air carrying any potential viruses is filtered through the mask, increasing the chances of catching most of the infectious particles. Inhaling while wearing a mask that doesn’t form a seal on the face may draw in unfiltered air from the sides, top or bottom, as well as air filtered through the mask.
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Does everybody need to wear a mask?
There is strength in numbers, Gumel and colleagues found. In simulations of epidemics with a low rate of transmission, widespread mask wearing is “very, very effective at reducing hospitalizations and mortality,” he says. If half the population wore masks that block half of particles, transmission rates could also be roughly halved, Gumel and colleagues report April 21 in Infectious Disease Modeling.
Even low-effectiveness cloth masks that block only 20 percent of viral particles could cut transmission rates by a third, provided 80 percent of people wore the coverings, the researchers estimate. In areas where transmission rates are high, if 80 percent of people wore masks that block half of infectious particles, 17 to 45 percent of projected deaths over two months might be prevented, the researchers calculate.
Those calculations are in line with estimates made by other scientists. Epidemics could be brought under control if everyone wore a mask all the time when in public, even if face masks are only 50 percent effective, researchers report June 10 in the Proceedings of Royal Society A.
And even though masks are less effective at protecting the wearer, personal protection went up as a greater percentage of people wore masks in the researchers’ calculations. That’s because “my mask protects you, your mask protects me,” the researchers write, so more mask wearing means greater protection for everybody.
Some real-world data also suggest masks are effective at helping curb the spread of the coronavirus. George Wehby and Wei Lyu, health policy researchers at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, tracked daily coronavirus case counts in 15 states and Washington, D.C., that mandated face coverings for the general public in some settings like grocery stores, during the study period from April 8 to May 15. The pair also monitored case counts in states that required masks only for essential employees, such as restaurant workers, health care providers and police or firefighters.
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States that required everyone to wear masks saw small, but steady declines in daily case counts after instituting the mandate compared with counts in the one to five days before the mandates took effect, the researchers report June 16 in Health Affairs. By the time mask orders had been in place for 21 days, daily case counts had declined by 2 percentage points. An estimated 230,000 to 450,000 coronavirus cases may have been prevented between April 8 and May22 because people wore masks, the team calculates.
The researchers accounted for shelter-in-place orders and other public health measures, but can’t say for sure that masks are the sole reason for the decline, Wehby says. Requiring employees, but not the general public, to wear masks didn’t lower case counts, the researchers found. But that might be because businesses are often already requiring employees to wear masks, so the state mandates are just enforcing measures that are already in place.
“There’s a general consensus now that masks work, and research is supporting that,” Wehby says. “Going forward, masks are an alternative to some of the strict social distancing measures. They don’t replace [social distancing], but where social distancing cannot be enacted, mask use makes common sense.”
Gumel agrees. “If everybody wore a face mask, we’d be doing a lot better.”
Questions or comments on this article? E-mail us at [email protected]
M. Staymates. My stay-at-home lab shows how face coverings can slow the spread of disease. Taking Measure, the official blog of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. June 11, 2020.
Everything You Need To Know About Wearing Masks—Until The CDC Tells Us More
The CDC recommends cloth masks be worn by everyone while in public to reduce risk that they will . [+] transmit COVID-19 before realizing they are infected.
As of Friday afternoon, April 4, the CDC has officially begun recommending more widespread mask-wearing , including by people who don’t show any symptoms of COVID-19. Specifically, 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) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
The CDC guidelines are aimed at reducing transmission of COVID-19 from people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms there is still not sufficient evidence to show that wearing a mask reduces the wearer’s likelihood of catching COVID-19.
The CDC also states it’s “critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus,” but its guidelines on wearing masks are incredibly vague. In fact, nowhere on the CDC pages about wearing or making cloth masks does the agency mention the most important aspect of wearing masks: that wearers wash their hands before and after putting on the mask and after every time they touch it.
The CDC should provide more guidance on safety and proper use about masks, according to Shanina Knighton, PhD, RN , a clinical nursing scientist and infection preventionist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. If people don’t receive continuing instruction and emphasis on the previous behaviors that reduce infections, she said, they tend to focus only on what’s new.
“When you tell someone to do something, if you do not give them clear instruction, it will become a safety issue,” Dr. Knighton said. “I can see someone literally bleach-coating—soaking a mask in bleach and letting it dry—and putting it on their face and thinking that because this is an EPA-approved product, I’m now protected against COVID. But now you have skin irritation and you’re inhaling bleach all day.” Shortly after the EPA announced that bleach products kill COVID-19, several bleach poisonings occurred around the country from people drinking bleach to try to kill the virus .
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Even the World Health Organization, whose stance on masks has continued to evolve, has emphasized the importance of proper use and disposal of masks and reinforced the behaviors with more solid evidence behind them.
“Mask or no mask, there are proven things all of us can do to protect ourselves and others – keep your distance, clean your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face," the WHO tweeted April 6. “Masks alone cannot stop the #COVID19 pandemic. Countries must continue to find, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact,” the WHO said .
People will make mistakes or assumptions if they have not been properly informed on how to wear and maintain masks, including concerns about skin irritation . The CDC page on making masks says nothing more about laundering than “A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.”
“You cannot tell the public this information without informing them how to launder it,” Dr. Knighton said. “You’re telling them to wear it out in public. What do I do when I start to eat my food? Where do I put my mask? Do I put down under my chin and proceed to eat? What happens when that person sets it down on the surface? What happens if someone sneezes on the outside of your mask? Do you immediately take it off? Do you leave it on your face? It’s just not clear, and it doesn’t share the things that people will commonly encounter.”
The CDC also neglected to mention the option of disposable homemade masks, such as ones made with paper towels, that may be more sanitary for those who cannot wash cloth masks frequently or thoroughly enough or who lack reliable, safe laundry resources. George Yang, MD, a plastic surgeon in New York, has created a YouTube video to show people how to make and wear paper towel masks for one-time use.
Whether people use DIY cloth or paper masks, however, they need to understand proper etiquette, including with coughing and sneezing.
“The masks to some people mean they can cough and sneeze without covering their mouth, thinking that the droplets aren’t going to travel through the mask,” Dr. Knighton said. “It is the CDC’s social responsibility to provide full instructions for masks including that people continue to wash their hands and to also make sure they are using proper cough and sneeze etiquette. These masks are going to help, but we still need you to cough and sneeze into your elbow.”
Dr. Shanina Knighton is a clinical nursing scientist and infection preventionist at Case Western . [+] Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photo courtesy of Shanina Knighton, PhD
The WHO acknowledged the need for more research into mask use for the general public. To try to fill the gaps the CDC has left open with mask guidance, Dr. Knighton has answered common questions about wearing masks as much as is possible with the existing evidence.
What’s the most important thing to do when wearing masks?
There are actually three things. First, wash or sanitize your hands, clean your face with a warm damp face cloth, and allow your face to dry before applying your mask. Second, avoid touching your face. Third, always wash or sanitize your hands before and after applying and removing your mask. When you remove your mask, take it off only from the ear straps, as seen in this video from the WHO.
What should I use to make my mask?
Even though the goal of wearing a mask is to prevent droplets from you reaching other people, you have to be able to breathe. Use porous materials that have tiny holes or pores (like a sponge) that allow gas to pass through them, such as cotton. Avoid using waterproof materials, such as waterproof nylon and polyester, because they may not provide enough spacing between fabric for safe breathing.
The CDC provides three ways to make masks , including a sewn mask, a no-sew design from a T-shirt, and a design with a bandana. Other instructions include this one from Johns Hopkins, this one with a video from Kaiser Permanente, and this video using shop towels .
If you prefer not to use a cloth mask, you can use paper towels or coffee filters to make disposable masks, but avoid any plastic or other materials that could risk suffocation. According to Dr. Michael Klompas, an infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a scarf may not work as well as a mask fitted to your face.
How do I manage using my cell phone while wearing my mask?
A 2018 survey shows people use their phones up to 52 times per day and that phones are 10 times dirtier than a public toilet —you don’t want to put the phone up against your mask. It will take a lot of effort to avoid reaching for your cell phone when it rings, so when you are out in public, such as visiting a grocery store, consider silencing your phone completely to avoid grabbing for it if it rings. You won’t be able to speak on it right away if your face is covered by the mask because it will sound muffled.
Be careful how you interact with your mask and your phone. Putting a contaminated phone up to your mask contaminates the mask. Pulling your mask down beneath your chin potentially contaminates your mask. Gently wiping down your phone with a 70% isopropyl alcohol or a disinfectant wipe is enough to remove the virus. Be careful not to set your phone down on surfaces and then apply it directly to your face.
Should I be wearing a mask everywhere, including my home?
While the CDC recommends wearing a mask while out in public, for your safety, DO NOT wear the mask while driving if it inhibits your sight. The CDC has not made recommendations about wearing masks at home if no one has symptoms of COVID-19. If someone has cold symptoms in your home, they should wear masks in combination with social distancing, hand hygiene, and cough and sneeze etiquette.
You do not need to sleep in your mask. Your mask should be removed by the ear straps only, never by the front of the mask. The CDC has not specified whether it’s necessary to wear masks while taking walks or in public parks where there are few people or you are much more than six feet away.
If I need to take my mask off in public, where do I put it until I can put it back on? What if I need to eat or drink something while wearing a mask?
There is limited research in this area, but think of your mask as a part of your face: Wash your hands before touching the mask and gently remove it only by the ear straps. For storing it, have a designated brown paper bag with you that you can place it in when not using it so you don’t set it down. If you are in public daily and will be wearing the mask for hours, change your brown paper bag daily.
When you use the bag, label one side “outside” for the outer side of the mask (the side that faces the public), and label the other “inside” for the inner part of the mask (the side near your mouth). Always put the mask in the bag with the inside part corresponding to the side marked “inside” so that you don’t contaminate it with what is on the outer-facing part of the mask.
My mask is getting wet from condensation from my breath. Do I need to change it out?
In healthcare, using disposable masks helps with this problem, but if you are using a cloth mask and find that this happens often, determine if the cloth you have is breathable or too thick. The CDC suggests using a T-shirt, likely cotton, for DIY masks. However, this NBC story notes a study finding other fabrics may work better—this is an example of an area where more research is essential.
Sweat absorbable or moisture-wicking fabrics similar to Dryfit have not been tested, but they may help absorb moisture from breathing. Avoid waterproof materials. If fluid can’t travel through them then it may be challenging to breathe through them. A study that looked at the effectiveness of cloth masks notes the moisture inside of the masks as an issue and risk for germ transmission.
How often do I wash my mask? Do I need more than one?
These questions deserve further scientific investigation and direction by the CDC, but until we have that guidance, these are my recommendations based on my experience and expertise. Ideally, masks should be changed after every wear, but this may not be possible for most people. Assuming no one in your home is sick, it depends on how many times you leave your home each day and each week how often you change it.
Try to have two masks for when the other is being laundered. How often you change it also depends on how long you’re wearing it and where you go in public. Everyone should be practicing social distancing, but in places like grocery stores, you might engage with people in closer proximity.
To avoid potential contamination from the mask, I suggest laundering it when you get home, especially if you don’t know the next time you’ll need it. This prevents you from having a potentially contaminated mask lingering around your home.
What detergents should I use to wash my mask?
This question also deserves CDC research and guidance, but until then, we can only rely on limited evidence from studies about irritation from contact dermatitis . Many detergents can cause rashes , and most detergents have fragrance and enzyme ingredients that can cause pore-clogging or breakouts, so the best option is to use detergents free of fragrance and enzymes.
If you launder your masks with the rest of your laundry, rinse it for extra time in plain water to ensure fragrances are removed. You can also spray it with a 5% bleach solution and let it dry, but test this first to be sure it doesn’t irritate your skin. Treat your mask as if it is your face with the same sensitivity as your skin.
Are there any chemicals, such as fabric softener or bleach, I shouldn’t use in sterilizing or washing my mask?
Again, treat your mask as if it has the same sensitivity as your skin since it will be up against your skin for long periods. It’s best to avoid fabric softeners, bleach, and any ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction, rashes or other symptoms, including fragrances that can cause headaches with long exposure. In addition, do not spray down masks with products such as Lysols and other disinfectants since their labels state that they may irritate the skin.
Should I dry my mask in the dryer or air-dry it?
You can dry your mask in the dryer, but avoid using dryer sheets. For air drying it, hang it on a coat hanger, clothing line, or laundry drying rack.
What does it mean to “fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face” against my face?
You should not see redness or deep lines in your face as a result of wearing your mask. Some people bruise more easily than others, but if you see an imprint in your skin, you should loosen your mask. There should be a full cupping around the nose and chin area with minimal space or opening on the side. If the mask makes it hard to breathe because it is pushing against your nose, loosen your mask. Skin breakdown and pressure sores can occur if the straps or mask is too tight. Furthermore materials such as rubber bands create tension.
Will the mask catch all the droplets when I cough and sneeze?
No—you should still be coughing and sneezing into your elbow. Because the fabric has to be porous for you to breathe, droplets can still travel through. The mask helps decrease the amount of droplets that would travel from your mouth or nose if your face were uncovered. It may also help reduce droplets that would travel from others to your face, though the existing evidence for preventing infection this way is weak unless someone is directly coughing into your face.
Who should not wear a mask?
The CDC currently recommends against masks for children under 2 and “anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.”
If I have a pre-existing condition, such as asthma, that already makes it difficult to breathe, will wearing a mask make it worse?
There is not enough evidence to know the effects of wearing a mask in people with asthma, but having asthma is often associated with a higher risk for anxiety and for allergies , with one condition sometimes triggering the other. It’s possible, but not shown in research, that wearing a mask could affect the relationships between those conditions.
Until we have more data regarding masks and conditions like asthma, people should follow their best judgment. If your anxiety, asthma, allergies, or a similar condition makes it too difficult to breathe while wearing a mask, remove it immediately and speak to a healthcare provider.
I need to wear oxygen. Do I put my mask over the oxygen tubes?
This question requires more research and guidance from the CDC. If you choose to wear a mask, while receiving oxygen through nasal cannula, be aware that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can remain infectious on plastic, so the outer part of those tubes should be cleaned every time someone returns from having left their home.
What do I do if I start to develop a rash from wearing my mask?
Wash your hands, remove the mask at home by the straps, wipe your face with a clean rag and allow your skin some time to recover. Facial moisture can cause skin breakouts. While not yet studied in everyday people, personal protective equipment (PPE) has been shown to cause contact dermatitis in up to 33% of healthcare workers. The risk of getting a rash depends on the multiple factors, including how long you wear it, the moisture produced, and your skin sensitivity to certain materials.
Will wearing a mask cause me to break out in pimples more?
We don’t yet have enough evidence to answer this question in everyday people. If your skin is prone to breakouts because of dryness or moisture, evaluate your face before and after wearing your mask and take note of changes in your skin so you can adjust mask use as needed. Remember that the more you stay home, the less often you need to wear a mask.
What should I do if someone sneezes or coughs on the outside of my mask?
Immediately turn away from the person and remove the mask by the straps. If you are in public, discard the mask immediately to avoid transmitting potential germs on the outside of the mask to yourself or others. Throw it away if it’s disposable or you can make another. If it’s a cloth mask you need to keep, place it in your paper bag. Wash your hands immediately after removal. Remember to continue social distancing while wearing your mask.
Do I have to shave my beard to safely wear a mask?
This question is yet another that requires more research. The Occupational Safety Health Administration does not require shaving beards but does state that a beard should not interfere with obtaining a complete seal with the mask. If your beard is exposed from outside the mask, there is not a good seal for the nose and chin areas, which should be covered.
What do I do if my glasses keep fogging up?
Glasses can be a concern. If glasses keep fogging up, it could mean the mask is not secure enough snugly around the nose area. Unfortunately, as someone who used to wear glasses, the fog is sometimes unavoidable while breathing, even with a good seal. It’s similar to wearing a scarf in the winter.
If the fogging of glasses interferes with sight, wash your hands and remove them to clean them. I suggest using a disposable eye lens wipes or, if using a reusable anti-scratch cloth, be sure to wash it daily if you need to clean your glasses throughout the day. Do not set the wipes down on surfaces you haven’t cleaned and dried first.
Report on face masks' effectiveness for Covid-19 divides scientists
A row has erupted among scientists over a new report into the use of face masks by the general public as an approach to managing the spread of Covid-19 in the community.
The report from a multidisciplinary group convened by the Royal Society called Delve – Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics – has weighed up the evidence and come out in favour of the public wearing face masks, including homemade cloth coverings, in a bid to tackle Covid-19.
“Our analysis suggests that their use could reduce onward transmission by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic wearers if widely used in situations where physical distancing is not possible or predictable, contrasting to the standard use of masks for the protection of wearers,” the report notes. “If correctly used on this basis, face masks, including homemade cloth masks, can contribute to reducing viral transmission.”
The conclusion is based on analysis of three key considerations, including the role of droplets as a route of transmission, and whether masks can help to reduce dispersal of droplets. However the authors note there are only a small number of studies.
But the report prompted other scientists to express their reservations, warning that it amounted to no more than opinion and overstated the available evidence.
Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said the report “falls short of delivering new evidence and too casually dismisses precautionary principle when addressing the possibility that masks and coverings could have negative effects on people’s behaviours”.
He added: “Until more evidence is delivered in either direction, that’s all advice can be based on – opinions.”
Dr Ben Killingley, consultant in acute medicine and infectious diseases at University College London hospital, was also critical.
“The report is overly optimistic about the value of face coverings and it is incorrect to conclude that the evidence shows that face covering can reduce viral transmission in the community,” he said. “There is in fact no good evidence that face coverings achieve this.”
Killingley added that the report largely ignored real-world data, which suggests low effectiveness, albeit for protection of the wearer.
“This is not to say that face coverings might not be helpful,” he said, noting, face mask studies have not been carried out during a pandemic or in the context of a novel virus. “Nevertheless, the report, in my view, does not accurately represent the evidence on face coverings that currently exists,” he said.
Dr Antonio Lazzarino of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, agreed.
“That is not a piece or research. That is a non-systematic review of anecdotical and non-clinical studies,” he said.
“The evidence we need before we implement public interventions involving billions of people, must come ideally from randomised controlled trials at population level or at least from observational follow-up studies with comparison groups,” said Lazzarino noting that will allow experts to look at the pros and cons of wearing masks.
“Based on what we now know about the dynamics of transmission and the pathophysiology of Covid-19, the negative effects of wearing masks outweigh the positive,” he said.
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But Prof Trisha Greenhalgh, of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, welcomed the report, saying it adds weight to the argument that face coverings by the general public could be part of a route out of lockdown.
“It draws together a wealth of evidence including the science of transmission and the efficacy of cloth-based materials both in laboratory studies and in randomised controlled trials, in relation to both source control and protection of the wearer,” she said.
“The authors flag the important finding that much if not most transmission of Sars-CoV-2 [coronavirus] happens from people who do not currently have symptoms. As would be expected from this distinguished group of scientists, the underlying evidence base is meticulously dissected and presented, including pointing out areas where more research is needed.”
Greenhalgh noted that while there have been concerns that use of masks by the public could reduce supply of medical-grade masks for healthcare workers, a homemade mask is sufficient for most people. “Medical-grade masks are not needed outside of healthcare settings. A cloth mask provides very good protection, and is more comfortable to wear,” she said.
Two schools of thought, not enough research
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, it has become clear there are two schools of thought in regards to face masks for the public.
On the one hand is the view shared by Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in Vanderbilt University&rsquos Division of Infectious Diseases, who says that medical masks commonly worn by members of the public do not fit snugly around the nose, cheeks and chin.
“And if there’s a general recommendation that people wear face masks, we won’t have enough supply for healthcare workers,” he says, adding that his colleagues have already been reporting shortages. “The priority should be face masks to use in the healthcare environment, rather than in our community.”
He calls the evidence supporting the effectiveness of the general public wearing masks &ldquoscanty.&rdquo
But, David Hui, a respiratory medicine expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who studied the 2002 to 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) extensively, says it&rsquos &ldquocommon sense&rdquo that wearing a mask would protect against infectious diseases like COVID-19.
“If you are standing in front of someone who is sick, the mask will give some protection,” Hui says. “The mask provides a barrier from respiratory droplets, which is predominantly how the virus spreads.”
He also says that the role of a face mask may be especially important in the epidemic due to the nature of the virus. Patients with COVID-19 often have mild or even no symptoms, and some researchers believe it can also be transmitted when patients are asymptomatic&mdashmeaning patients can be contagious and don&rsquot know they&rsquore sick.
Hui adds that the lack of solid evidence supporting the effectiveness of masks against the virus is no reason to dismiss its use, because there may never be definitive scientific proof. A properly controlled study would be impossible to conduct ethically, he explains. “You can’t randomize people to not wear a mask, and some to wear a mask, and then expose them all to the virus,” he says.
Joseph Tsang, an infectious disease specialist who also worked as a consultant for the city’s Hospital Authority, says the purpose of wearing a mask is two-fold. &ldquoWearing a mask is not just for protecting yourself from getting infected, but also minimizing the chance of potential infection harboring in your body from spreading to people around you,” he tells TIME.
Tsang says the three layers of a surgical mask filter help reduce the risk of contact with droplets, through which the virus is transmitted. “Whenever you foresee to have someone within two to three meters (6.5 to 10 feet) apart, then it&rsquos better to wear a mask,” Tsang adds.
Filter questions by topic:
The Delta variant is the B.1.617.2 strain of coronavirus first identified in India that’s now spreading around the world.
“This variant is even more transmissible than the UK 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.
Researchers believe the Delta variant has taken over as the dominant strain of coronavirus in the UK.
“We don’t want to let happen in the United States what is happening currently in the UK, where you have a troublesome variant essentially taking over as the dominant variant,” Fauci said.
But it’s happened before. The Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, first detected in the UK, is “stickier” and more contagious than the original strain of novel coronavirus. It used to be the dominant variant in the UK and is now the dominant strain in the US.
The two-dose vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca have shown to be effective in protecting against the Delta variant — but the protection requires getting both doses, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“There is reduced vaccine effectiveness in the one dose. Three weeks after one dose, both vaccines, the (AstraZeneca) and the Pfizer/BioNTech, were only 33% effective against symptomatic disease from Delta,” he said.
“If you had your first dose, make sure you get that second dose. And for those who have been not vaccinated yet, please get vaccinated.”
Lab experiments described in a recent preprint study also suggest the Moderna vaccine, as well as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, will offer protection against the Delta variant — though more study is needed.
Johnson & Johnson says it’s gathering data on its vaccine and emerging variants.
The Delta variant is more transmissible than both the original strain of novel coronavirus and the Alpha (B.1.1.7) strain that’s currently dominant in the US, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.
“It’s yet another reason to get vaccinated quickly,” he said.
Now that all three vaccines authorized for use in the US have shown to be highly effective and safe in adults, one vaccine is already available for children ages 12 and up. And clinical trials are underway for younger children.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is currently authorized for people ages 12 and up. Vaccine trial data for children as young as 5 could be available by the end of this year.
Johnson & Johnson said its vaccine, which is currently authorized for adults, could be available to children by September. “We will conduct several immunogenicity and safety studies in children from 17 years of age down to neonates,” said Dr. Macaya Douoguih, head of clinical development & medical affairs with J&J’s vaccine arm Janssen.
Moderna’s vaccine is currently authorized for people ages 18 and older. In late May, Moderna said early trial data shows the vaccine is safe and appears to be effective in 12- to 17-year-olds. On June 10, the company said it has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccine for the adolescent age group.
As for elementary age children, vaccines might not be authorized for that age group until the end of 2021, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Kids can transmit the virus. They are susceptible to it,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA.
In Florida, for example, the number of children who had been hospitalized with Covid-19 surged 23% in eight days last summer – from 246 on July 16 to 303 on July 24.
While children are far less likely to die from coronavirus than adults, studies show kids can contract and spread coronavirus:
– A study out of South Korea shows children at least 10 years old can transmit Covid-19 within a household just as much as adults can.
– In the US, a CDC study showed more than half of the children ages 6 to 10 who attended Georgia summer camp in June and got tested for Covid-19 tested positive.
The study – which examined test results following a camp that more than 600 campers 120 staffers attended – found that 51% of those ages 6 to 10 tested positive 44% of those ages 11 to 17 tested positive and 33% of those ages 18 to 21 tested positive.
“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.
“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 not clear if or when vaccine booster shots might be needed, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in late May.
Research shows the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines stay highly effective for at least six months (and counting).
But it’s not clear how long the protection provided by vaccines will last.
“We don’t know if it’s a year. We don’t know if it’s nine months. We don’t know if it’s two years yet,” board-certified internist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said.
“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, Rodriguez said.
“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.)
“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC says.
But those who aren’t vaccinated should keep wearing masks in public places (especially indoors) and when it might be hard to keep distance from people who don’t live with you.
“It’s estimated that about 70% of Americans must be vaccinated before we get to herd immunity through vaccination. That’s the point where enough people have the immune protection that the virus won’t spread anymore,” said emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
“This means about 230 million Americans must receive the vaccine … At that point, we could probably see one another without masks — but not before.”
As of June 9, only about 140 million Americans — or about 42.5% of the US population — had been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
“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.”
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.
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines 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.
It’s too early to tell, the US Food and Drug Administration says.
The three vaccines currently used in the US were developed less than a year after Covid-19 was first detected in the US. The FDA said emergency authorization was swift, but it did not come at the cost of safety.
But since all Covid-19 vaccines are relatively new, it’s not clear exactly how long immunity from the vaccines will last.
“It may be that coronavirus vaccine becomes something that you have to get every year, like the flu vaccine,” emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen said.
Others say it’s possible you could go much longer without needing another Covid-19 vaccine — especially if enough people get vaccinated right now.
“The vaccine elicits such high levels of antibodies that even when confronted with a variant … there’s still meaningful protection,” said Dr. Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied mRNA vaccines like Pfizer’s and Moderna’s for years.
“These mRNA vaccines – it really seems the level of antibodies they elicit are so high, they are persistent … I would not be surprised if this is a vaccine that we only get once.”
Vaccine trial participants are still being closely monitored. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine remains more than 91% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 for at least six months, the companies said. They said the vaccine also appeared to be fully effective against the worrying B.1.351 variant of the virus, which researchers feared had evolved to evade the protection of vaccines.
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.
But 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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
Some Covid-19 survivors have reported problems weeks or months after testing positive.
- 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.
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.
In July, 239 scientists backed a letter urging public health agencies to recognize the potential for aerosolized spread.
“There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets (microdroplets) at short to medium distances (up to several meters, or room scale), and we are advocating for the use of preventive measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission,” the letter said.
The Crisis Text Line is available texting to 741741. Trained volunteers and crisis counselors are staffed 24/7, and the service is free.
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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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
For symptomatic carriers: If it’s been at least 10 days since your symptoms started and at least 24 hours since you’ve had a fever (without the help of fever-reducing medication) and your other symptoms have improved, you can go ahead and stop isolating, the CDC says.
(But it’s important to note symptoms typically don’t show up until several days after infection — and you can be more contagious during this pre-symptomatic time. Also, symptoms can last for weeks or months — including in young people.)
For asymptomatic carriers: People who tested positive but don’t have any symptoms can stop isolating 10 days after the first positive test – as long as they have not subsequently developed symptoms, the CDC says.
But 10 days is just a general guideline: “Because symptoms cannot be used to gauge where these individuals are in the course of their illness, it is possible that the duration of viral shedding could be longer or shorter than 10 days after their first positive test,” the CDC warned. With viral shedding, a person can infect others with the virus, even if they have no symptoms.
Asymptomatic carriers who have tested positive can also stop isolating if they get two negative test results from tests taken more than 24 hours apart. At that point, it’s very unlikely they are still contagious.
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).
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.”
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:
- . 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. . 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.
Children can be more reluctant because they’re more sensitive to new things than adults are, said Christopher Willard, a psychiatry lecturer at Harvard Medical School.
“There’s also the weird psychological aspect of not being able to see their own face or other people’s faces and facial expressions,” which can hinder their feelings of comfort or safety, he said.
To ease their mask fears, try buying or making masks with fun designs on them. Or have your child customize his or her own masks by drawing on them with markers.
You can also order children’s face masks with superheroes on them or show your kids photos of their favorite celebrities wearing masks.
It’s also important to set a good example by wearing a mask yourself. Show your children your own mask, and let them know that by wearing one, they’ll be just like Mom or Dad.
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.
“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.
Technically, it can, but HVAC (heating/ventilation/air conditioning) systems are not thought to be a significant factor in the spread of coronavirus.
Many modern air conditioning systems will either filter out or dilute the virus. Ventilation systems with highly effective filters are a key way to eliminate droplets from the air, said Harvard environmental health researcher Joseph Gardner Allen.
Filters are rated by a MERV system – their “minimum efficiency reporting value” that specifies their ability to trap tiny particles. The MERV ratings go from 1 to 20. The higher the number, the better the filtration.
HEPA filters have the highest MERV ratings, between 17 and 20. HEPA filters are used by hospitals to create sterile rooms for surgeries and to control infectious diseases. They’re able to remove 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.
For context, this coronavirus is thought to be between 0.06 to 1.4 microns in size.
But “HEPA filtration is not always going to be feasible or practical,” Allen said. “But there are other filters that can do the job. What is recommended now by the standard setting body for HVAC is a MERV 13 filter.”
High-efficiency filters in the 13-to-16 MERV range are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, research labs and other places where filtration is important.
“If you’re an owner of a home, building or mall, you want to have someone to assess your system and install the largest MERV number filter the system can reliably handle without dropping the volume of air that runs through it,” advised Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
“In addition, virtually all modern air conditioning systems in commercial buildings have a process called makeup air where they bring in air from outside and condition it and bring it inside,” Bromage said. “It’s worse in regards to energy, but the more outside air we bring in, the more dilution of the virus we have and then the safer you are.”
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.
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.
— 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.
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.”
“People can be contagious without symptoms. And in fact – a little bit strangely in this case — people tend to be the most contagious before they develop symptoms, if they’re going to develop symptoms,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said.
“They call that the pre-symptomatic period. So people tend to have more virus at that point seemingly in their nose, in their mouth. This is even before they get sick. And they can be shedding that virus into the environment.”
Some people infected with coronavirus never get symptoms. But it’s easy for these asymptomatic carriers to infect others, said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health.
“When you speak, sometimes you’ll spit a little bit,” she said. “You’ll rub your nose. You’ll touch your mouth. You’ll rub your eyes. And then you’ll touch other surfaces, and then you will be spreading virus if you are infected and shedding asymptomatically.”
That’s why health officials suggests people wear face masks while in public and when it’s difficult to stay 6 feet away from others.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Any large gathering can increase the spread because this coronavirus is transmissible by talking or even just breathing. Carriers of the virus can be contagious even if they don’t have symptoms.
And when people are “shouting and cheering loudly, that does produce a lot of droplets and aerosolization that can spread the virus to people,” said Dr. James Phillips, a physician and assistant professor at George Washington University Hospital.
So doctors and officials say its important to get vaccinated or wear a face mask and try to keep your distance from others as much as possible.
“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.
“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 sanitzier or disinfectant.
And since Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, make sure you avoid touching your face.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There have been some reports of animals infected with coronavirus — including two pets in New York and eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Yes, coronavirus can live on the soles of shoes, but the risk of getting Covid-19 from shoes appears to be low.
A report published by the CDC highlighted a study from a hospital in Wuhan, China, where this coronavirus outbreak began.
The soles of medical workers’ shoes were swabbed and analyzed, and the study found that the virus was “widely distributed” on floors, computer mice, trash cans and door knobs. But it’s important to note the study was done in a hospital, where the virus was concentrated.
It’s still possible to pick up coronavirus on the bottoms of your shoes by running errands, but it’s unlikely you’ll get sick from it because people don’t often touch the soles of their shoes and then their faces. Because Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, the CDC advises wearing a mask while in public and washing your hands frequently– the correct way.
If you have small children who crawl or regularly touch the floor, it’s a good idea to take your shoes off as soon you get home to prevent coronavirus or bacteria from spreading on the floors.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“That’s a bad idea,” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, an infectious diseases professor at Emory University School of Medicine. “It could definitely kill you.”
But the Reckitt Benckiser Group, which produces Lysol cleaning products, said “under no circumstance” should disinfectants be put into the human body.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Please don’t. The CDC advises using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% 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.
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.”
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Many health care workers haven’t had enough protective gear to handle the growing influx of coronavirus patients.
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.”
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 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.”
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.
- 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, you can make both at home.
“Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted” if you’re trying to kill coronavirus on a non-porous surface, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The CDC’s recipe calls for diluting 5 tablespoons (or ⅓ cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.
You can also make your own hand sanitizer. The Nebraska Medical Center – famous for its biocontainment unit and treatment of Ebola patients – offers this recipe:
What you’ll need:
- 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
- 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
- Mixing bowl
- Spoon or something for whisking
- Small container, such as a 3 oz. travel bottle
- Optional: essential oil to give your hand sanitizer a fragrance
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.
An employee can be fired if they don’t show up to work and don’t have sick leave that would cover the absence, says Krista Slosburg, an employment attorney at Stokes Lawrence in Seattle.
But there are exceptions. Employers who make workers with 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.
If you work in a city or state that requires sick leave and you use it, you can‘t be terminated or disciplined.
But there is no federal mandate that requires companies to offer paid sick leave, and almost a quarter of all US workers don’t get it, according to 2019 government data. Some state and local governments have passed laws that require companies to offer paid sick leave.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can sometimes protect a worker’s job in the event they get sick, but it won’t guarantee they get paid while they’re out.
Employee advocates urge businesses to consider the special circumstances of the Covid-19, and some already have
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.
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.”
People who are immunocompromised “are at higher risk from this illness, as well as other illnesses like the flu. Avoiding contact with ill people is crucial,” Washington state’s latter are at greater risk for severe disease,” according to researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.