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COVID-19 Q & A

(Updated March 25, 2020)

Dr. Lauren Fore, family medicine provider at Horizon Health, has compiled commonly asked questions and answers related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As the situation evolves, updates may be made to reflect any changes or new information.

How long does Coronavirus stay alive on surfaces?
Up to 3 days, but it depends on the type of surface. The National Institutes of Health has shown that it is viable on stainless steel and plastic for up to 72 hours; viable for up to 24 hours on cardboard.

Is the Coronavirus more contagious than the flu?
Yes. On average, one person can spread the flu virus to 1.3 others. One person can spread the Coronavirus to 2-3 others.

If some people can spread the virus without showing symptoms, how can we tell who is infected and who is not?
You can’t. This is why social distancing is in place. We need to treat every person like they have this. Avoid large crowds, wash your hands, and stand at least 6 feet away from others.

How long is someone contagious after getting Coronavirus?
The CDC says it is okay to release someone from isolation at least 3 days after their fever has resolved and with improvement in their respiratory symptoms, or after at least 7 days has passed since their symptoms first appeared.

Do I need to wear a mask to prevent Coronavirus?
If you are healthy, no. Masks need to be saved for healthcare workers and those that are immunocompromised.

What age is the threshold for “older adult?”
We are classifying this as anyone over age 60. This is based on current infection rates and complications. The US Surgeon General has said that the “average age of death for people from the Coronavirus is 80. Average age of people who need medical attention is age 60.”

Are pregnant women at increased risk for the Coronavirus?
There is not enough evidence yet. Currently, there have not been any cases of the virus being passed from mother to fetus or through breast milk.

Should I go to work?
If possible, you should try to work from home whether you are ill or not. If you have to go to work, continue with washing your hands frequently and try to stay 6 feet away from others.

Is there a cure?
No. Research is currently being conducted, but it will likely be more than a year before a vaccine is available.

The flu has infected and killed a lot more Americans compared to the Coronavirus, so why are we so worried about the Coronavirus?
According to data from the CDC, about 20,000 Americans have died from the flu since October 2019 and nearly 34 million Americans have been infected. The mortality rate of the Coronavirus is much higher when compared to the flu. The elderly and those with comorbidities are at especially high risk.

Can I get Coronavirus from my pet?
The World Health Organization says that there is no evidence of domesticated animals like cats or dogs being infected or spreading the virus.

Is it necessary to stock up on bottled water? Is the water supply at risk?
No, it is not necessary to stock up on bottled water. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it is okay to continue drinking tap water.

School is closed, and now I need childcare. How do I keep my children safe with someone new in my home?
Harvard Medical School has offered several tips. Try to limit the number of sitters to limit exposure to your children. Choose a sitter who is not exposed to many people besides your family. Encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.

Is it safe to get takeout from restaurants?
The CDC says there is no evidence that shows that Coronavirus is transmitted through food. It is good practice to wipe down the food containers and to wash your hands prior to eating.

How long will we have to keep social distancing?
Likely several months. Some health officials are saying that you should avoid large crowds for at least 6 months.