You asked, we’re answering: Your top coronavirus questions

By Holly Yan and Scottie Andrew, CNN
CNN’s Melissa Mahtani, Harmeet Kaur and Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.
Updated May 28, 2020

CNN readers from around the world have asked more than 90,000 questions about coronavirus. We’re reading as many as we can and answering some of the most popular questions here.

Search by topic or by keywords (below) to find answers to your questions. If you have a question we haven’t answered, ask us here. You can also subscribe to our newsletter, Coronavirus: Fact or Fiction, and listen to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s podcast to learn more.

Which age groups get infected the most? And what’s the breakdown of coronavirus deaths by age?

According to data from the CDC, young adults (between ages 18 and 44) had the highest number of infections. As of late May:

Age group % of coronavirus cases
0 to 17 years old 4%
18 to 44 years old 39%
45 to 64 years old 35%
65 to 74 years old 10%
75+ years old 12%

While young adults have been hospitalized with coronavirus and some have died, the majority of deaths are among senior citizens:

Age group % of Deaths
75+ years old 58.4%
65 to 74 years old 21.3%
45 to 64 years old 17.6%
18 to 44 years old 2.7%
0 to 17 years old 0%

It’s important to note there may be a lag between when deaths happen and when they are reflected in the CDC’s count. For example, the Georgia Department of Public Health said on May 24 that a 17-year-old boy had died from Covid-19.

Family work/life transmission myths & misinformation
Is hand sanitizer as effective as soap and water in killing coronavirus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treatment & prevention work/life transmission family
Can you get coronavirus from touching money? What about from other objects, like plants?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transmission work/life treatment & prevention
My kids don’t want to wear a mask. What should I do?

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

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

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

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

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

Family treatment & prevention work/life transmission
How can I stay safe in an elevator?

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

  • Wear a mask. Not only does wearing a mask reduce your risk of inhaling the virus — which can linger in the air for 8 minutes — it also helps reduce your chances of infecting others if you are an asymptomatic carrier.
  • Use a tissue to push the elevator buttons. If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow, then wash or disinfect that area when you can.
  • Try to keep your distance from anyone else inside the elevator as much as possible.
transmission work/life treatment & prevention
Can you get Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, through your eyes?

“Theoretically, it’s possible, but we have no proof of that,” said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said he’s skeptical.

“It’s possible, I guess, but I’ve always thought that that was a bit of a stretch,” Schaffner said.

That doesn’t mean you should start rubbing your eyes. While you might not get Covid-19 from your eyes, this new coronavirus could cause conjunctivitis – a highly contagious condition better known as pink eye.

But there are lots of possible causes of pink eye, including other viruses, bacteria, fungi, styes and even allergies.

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

It appears unlikely, but the CDC advises taking precautions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation travel transmission
Can UV light kill coronavirus?

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

But UV light can also damage the body.

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

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

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

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

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention
Do I need to wash fruits and vegetables with soap and water?

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

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

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

Treatment & prevention work/life transmission
Can coronavirus stay in my hair or in a beard? Should I wash my hair every day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transmission treatment & prevention work/life
Could I infect my pets with coronavirus, or vice versa? Can someone get infected by touching an animal’s fur? Should I get my pet tested for coronavirus?

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

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

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

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

Family work/life treatment & prevention transmission
When are people with coronavirus most contagious?

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

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

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

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

That’s why health officials suggest everyone wear a face mask while in public.

Transmission treatment & prevention myths & misinformation
What is contact tracing? How does it help stop a virus? Who’s hiring contact tracers, and how can I become one?

This “Contact tracing 101” article explains how contact tracing works, how it quashed previous outbreaks, who can get hired, how much it could pay, and why contact tracing is critical to helping reopen economies.

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention travel
Should I wash my hands and laundry in very warm or hot water?

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

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

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

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

Treatment & prevention work/life transmission myths & misinformation
How does soap kill coronavirus? If I don’t have disinfecting wipes, can I use soap and water on surfaces?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention
Can coronavirus be transferred by people’s shoes? How do I protect children who crawl or play on the floor?

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

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

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

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

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

transmission family treatment & prevention
Can I disinfect my mask by putting it in the microwave?

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

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

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

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

treatment & prevention work/life myths & misinformation
Are coronavirus and Covid-19 the same thing? How did they get their names?

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

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

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

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

Myths & misinformation
Can you catch coronavirus more than once? Or does a person become immune or have long-term immunity to the virus?

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

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

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

Treatment & Prevention myths & misinformation transmission
Can coronavirus travel by wind? Is it safe to go for a walk or exercise outside if someone jogs or bikes past me?

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

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

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

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

That’s why wearing a face mask won’t necessarily protect you from coronavirus. The primary benefit of wearing a mask is to protect others if you’re sick or an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.

Transmission work/life travel
Doesn’t the flu kill more people than coronavirus?

No. More people have died from coronavirus in the US since February than from the flu since October.

In other words, coronavirus isn’t just killing more people than the flu. It’s also killing at a much faster rate.

From October 1 to April 4, an estimated 24,000 to 62,000 Americans died from the flu, according to CDC.

The first known US death from coronavirus was in February. By May 27, more than 99,000 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

There are other reasons why coronavirus can be more dangerous than the flu:

Transmission family work/life myths & misinformation
What’s convalescent plasma therapy? Do plasma donors and their recipients have to have the same blood type for this treatment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transmission work/life
Can mosquitoes transmit coronavirus?

No. “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.

“The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.”

Transmission myths & misinformation
Should I stop wearing contacts and switch to glasses? Would that help reduce my risk of infection?

“There is no evidence to suggest contact lens wearers are more at risk for acquiring COVID-19 than eyeglass wearers,” the CDC says.

“However, wearing contact lenses can increase your chance of getting an eye infection — especially if you do not care for them the right way.”

It’s important for contact wearers to wash their hands the right way and disinfect the lenses.

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention
Can students expect to go back to school anytime in 2020?

It’s too early to say for sure, but CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield warned that a second wave of coronavirus later this year could be even more difficult because it could coincide with the flu season.

As for the rest of the current school year, at least 43 states have ordered or recommended that schools remain closed.

And some universities say it’s possible in-person classes might be canceled until 2021.

Around the world, 1.6 billion children have been affected by school closures, according to UNESCO. But some schools have already reopened – with new precautions. In Denmark, students sit 6 feet apart from each other, enter school at staggered times, and spend more time outdoors.

Work/life family travel
Can you safely reuse a non-cloth mask that you can’t wash, like a disposable mask?

Yes you can, said Dr. Joseph Vinetz, an infectious diseases professor at Yale School of Medicine.

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

You can reuse cloth masks, too. Just launder them between each use on a high-heat setting.

Learn more about which masks you shouldn’t buy and how you can make your own (without having to sew) here.

Work/life treatment & prevention
What’s so different about coronavirus that we have to shut down businesses? Why practice social distancing now, when we didn’t during the SARS and swine flu epidemics?

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

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

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

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

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention
This isolation is taking a toll on my mental health. And I’m starting to feel depressed and anxious about the pandemic. How can I get help?

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

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

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

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

Family Work/Life Treatment & Prevention
Will ingesting or injecting disinfectants, like the ones that kill viruses on surfaces, protect me against coronavirus or kill coronavirus if I already have it?

“That’s a bad idea,” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, an infectious diseases professor at Emory University School of Medicine. “It could definitely kill you.”

President Donald Trump wondered aloud during a press conference whether there’s “a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”

But the Reckitt Benckiser Group, which produces Lysol cleaning products, said “under no circumstance” should disinfectants be put into the human body.

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention work/life
Is it true young people with coronavirus are also having blood clots and strokes?

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

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

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

At least one patient has died, and others are in rehabilitation facilities, intensive care or in the stroke unit, Oxley said. Only one patient went home, but will require intense care.

Family work/life
What can we learn from how other countries handled coronavirus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work/life treatment & prevention
Why can’t we just test everyone in the US? If we isolate all the asymptomatic carriers, couldn’t the rest of us go back to work?

Doctors say it’s not realistic to test all 328 million people in the US, especially since many states are still struggling to get enough tests or testing supplies.

So in order for the economy to reopen and stay open, the US will need to triple its number of tests performed every day — from 150,000 tests a day to at least 500,000, three Harvard researchers found.

And the proportion of test results that come back positive needs to be much lower. About 20% of US test results have been positive, which is “clearly way too high,” said Dr. Thomas Tsai, one of the Harvard researchers.

The World Health Organization said an adequate range of positive test results would be 3% to 12%. Germany and South Korea have already met that goal, Tsai said.

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

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

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

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

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

Transmission work/life family treatment & prevention
How can someone spread coronavirus when asymptomatic? If they’re not sneezing or coughing, how can they infect others?

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

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

transmission work/life
Will an antibody test show whether I’m immune and can go back to work?

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.

Work/life treatment & prevention transmission
If novel coronavirus antibodies may or may not offer long-term immunity, how would a vaccine help?

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

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

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

Treatment & prevention transmission
Are some blood types able to fight this coronavirus better than other blood types?

“With this respiratory virus, (as) with other coronaviruses, no,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 response.

“All of us are susceptible to this virus,” she said. “It’s a new virus, which means we haven’t had a chance to build immunity.”

Myths & misinformation transmission
Can I use vodka as hand sanitizer?

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

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

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

What you’ll need:

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

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

Myths & misinformation treatment & prevention
Are smokers or vapers at higher risk? What if I only smoke weed?

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

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

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

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

Even occasionally smoking marijuana can put you at greater risk.

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

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

Work/life family treatment & prevention
Can I get coronavirus through food? Is it safe to eat takeout from restaurants?

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

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

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

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

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

transmission family work/life
My teenagers aren’t taking this seriously. Any advice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mitchell is now recovering, but still has a cough almost a month later.

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

Family transmission treatment & prevention myths & misinformation
Does this pandemic have anything to do with the 5G network?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family work/life travel
How long does coronavirus stay “alive” on surfaces?

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

  • The novel coronavirus is viable up to 72 hours after being placed on stainless steel and plastic.
  • It was viable up to four hours after being placed on copper, and up to 24 hours after being put on cardboard.
  • In aerosols, it was viable for three hours.
Transmission
Will a pneumonia or flu vaccine help protect against coronavirus?

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.”

The flu shot does not protect against coronavirus. But it does help protect against a massive, unnecessary burden on hospitals already overwhelmed with coronavirus.

The CDC estimates about 140,000 to 810,000 people are hospitalized with the flu every year in the US. And about half of Americans don’t get vaccinated – including most children who die from the flu.

Transmission myths & misinformation treatment & prevention
Should I wear a face mask in public? If so, how do I make one?

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

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

But there are several important caveats and key points:

transmission work/life myths & misinformation
How long will we have to keep social distancing?

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

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

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

Health officials say we’re at least a year away from the first publicly available coronavirus vaccine.

transmission work/life treatment & prevention
Is there a cure?

There’s currently no cure for the novel coronavirus. And while research is underway, it could be more than a year before a vaccine becomes publicly available.

Treatment & Prevention
Why is a cure taking so long?

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

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

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

Many health care workers don’t actually have 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. (This shortage is why the general public should not buy medical masks and instead make cloth masks at home.)

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 room 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.”

Transmission
We’ve been sheltering in place for weeks. So why are the “peaks” of hospitalizations and deaths still yet to come in some places?

“There is a delay because the way it goes, you have people who get exposed; they get infected; the number of new infections, hospitalizations, critical care and deaths (follow),” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“So even when you suppress or stabilize the number of new infections, it’s still going to take a while before you see a decrease in hospitalizations, a decrease in intensive care, and a decrease in deaths. And in fact, deaths are the last thing that lag. So you could be doing well (with mitigation measures) and still see the deaths go up.”

Work/life transmission treatment & prevention
Can I have the flu and coronavirus at the same time?

Yes. Testing positive for either the flu or coronavirus doesn’t exempt you from having the other at the same time.

The flu and coronavirus share some common symptoms, such as fever and cough.

But many coronavirus patients suffer from shortness of breath, and some people with coronavirus lose their senses of taste or smell. But it’s important to note many people with coronavirus — possibly up to 50% — have no symptoms at all.

Learn more about the differences between flu, coronavirus and allergy symptoms here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transmission myths & misinformation work/life
If there’s no cure, why go to the hospital unless you have a breathing problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treatment & prevention family
Can high or low temperatures kill coronavirus?

“Generally coronaviruses survive for shorter periods of time at higher temperatures and higher humidity than in cooler or dryer environments. However, we don’t have direct data for this virus, nor do we have direct data for a temperature-based cutoff for inactivation at this point,” the CDC says.

“The necessary temperature would also be based on the materials of the surface, the environment, etc.”

President Donald Trump suggested this coronavirus could subside by the warmer summer months, but scientists say it’s too early to tell. And the fact that coronavirus keeps spreading in the Southern Hemisphere during its summer months suggests this strain might not succumb to warmer temperatures.

“The short answer is that while we may expect modest declines in the contagiousness of (novel coronavirus) in warmer, wetter weather … it is not reasonable to expect these declines alone to slow transmission enough to make a big dent,” wrote Dr. Marc Lipsitch, director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Transmission myths & misinformation
Why is everyone stocking up on bottled water? Is the water supply at risk?

No, the water supply is not at risk.

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

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

Work/life myths & misinformation
My child’s school is closed, and we need a babysitter. How do I keep my family safe with someone new in the house?

The Harvard Medical School offers several tips, including:

  • choosing a babysitter who has minimal exposures to other people besides your family
  • limiting the number of babysitters. If you can keep it to one, that’s ideal. But if you need multple babysitters, keep the number as low as possible
  • making sure the babysitter understands he or she needs to practice social distancing and limits physical interaction with your children as much as possible
  • telling the babysitter that he or she must not come to your house if feeling even the slightest bit sick, or has had known exposure to coronavirus
  • making sure everyone washes their hands frequently throughout the day, especially before eating.
Work/life family
If people can spread the virus without showing any symptoms, how can I tell who’s infected and who’s not?

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

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

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

That’s why it’s so critical to avoid crowds, stay at least 6 feet away from others, wash or disinfect your hands, and stop touching your face.

Transmission travel work/life
How do I safely take care of someone who’s sick?

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

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

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

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

The illness varies in its severity, and many patients can recover at home in isolation.

transmission
How does this coronavirus spread?

It primarily spreads between people through respiratory droplets, like through coughs, sneezes, spittle.

You can also get coronavirus by touching infected surfaces, then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

transmission
Can coronavirus go through skin and into the body?

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

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

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

transmission
How long is someone contagious after getting coronavirus?

It varies. Decisions about when a person can be released from isolation are made on a case-by-case basis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for when it is OK to release someone from isolation. They include meeting all of these requirements:

  • The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.

“Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others,” the CDC says.

But for asymptomatic carriers who have no symptoms, the timeline is much more difficult to pinpoint.

transmission
No one from my family has been exposed to the virus, and no one is sick. Can we get together for a family dinner? There are 10 of us, ages 4 to 88.

It’s virtually impossible to say for sure that you haven’t been exposed to the virus. Some carriers of coronavirus don’t have any symptoms. But they can still pass on the virus without knowing it.

“We now know that asymptomatic transmission likely (plays) an important role in spreading this virus,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

He said it’s “absolutely clear” that asymptomatic infection “surely can fuel a pandemic like this in a way that’s going to make it very difficult to control.”

Read more: How can people spread coronavirus if they don’t have any symptoms?

Infectious disease experts say those older than 60 are at much higher risk of getting seriously ill if they’re exposed to coronavirus.

Family
What exactly does 'older' adults mean? What is the age threshold?

The CDC says “older adults“ and people with serious chronic medical conditions “are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness.”

Anyone over 60 and those with underlying health problems should try to avoid places with large crowds – such as movie theaters, busy malls and even religious services, infectious disease experts say.

“This ought to be top of mind for people over 60, and those with underlying health problems,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime CDC adviser.

But why is age 60 often used as a threshold for those who need to be extra cautious?

“(The) average age of death for people from coronavirus is 80. Average age of people who need medical attention is age 60,” US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said.

Read more about what adults 60 and older should do to prevent coronavirus.

Family
Are kids more at risk?

“Younger people, thankfully, seem to be insulated to some extent to protect (them) from getting particularly sick from this,” said CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “We don’t know entirely why.”

But while children might have mild to no symptoms with coronavirus, they can still get others sick. “They can still carry the virus in their bodies,” Gupta said. “They could potentially still shed the virus and be a source of infection.”

Like everyone else, children should wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, stay at least 6 feet away from anyone coughing or sneezing, and stop touching their faces – which is a lot harder than it sounds.

Family
Is coronavirus especially harmful for pregnant women?

Long story short: There’s not enough data yet, considering this coronavirus just emerged in humans a few months ago.

Researchers “do not have information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women” to this coronavirus, the CDC says.

“Adverse infant outcomes” like premature births have been reported among infants born to mothers who’ve tested positive for coronavirus during pregnancy, the CDC says. But it’s not clear if these outcomes were related to maternal infection, so the risk is unknown.

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

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

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

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

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

Family
Should I disinfect my groceries? If so, how?

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

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

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

Yes, you can make both at home.

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

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

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

What you’ll need:

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

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

Work/life Treatment & Prevention
Should I stock up on extra food and supplies?

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

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

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

Work/life
Should I avoid public transportation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work/life travel
How do I stay healthy while using Uber or Lyft?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work/Life travel
Is it safe for me to vote at a polling location?

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

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

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

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

Work/life
Should I go to work?

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

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

If you must go into work, maintain 6 feet of distance from your colleagues, wash your hands frequently and practice good respiratory etiquette by coughing or sneezing into your elbow.

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

Work/life
Can I be fired if I stay home sick?

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

But there are exceptions.

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

Work/Life
What happens when workers don't get paid sick leave?

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

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

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

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

Work/Life
Can managers send a sick worker home?

Yes, managers can.

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

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

Work/Life
Which countries have travel bans due to coronavirus?

Many countries have enacted temporary restrictions on their entry policies.

These wide-ranging restrictions affect travelers from around the world, so check ahead before making plans. You can learn more about current restrictions in this CNN article.

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

It’s not the cabin air you need to worry about. It’s keeping your hands clean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, try to avoid contact with anyone sneezing or coughing. And if you’re feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel
Why doesn’t the US have enough medical supplies to handle this outbreak?

Top healthcare officials say the US does not have enough stockpiled medical equipment like masks, gowns and gloves to meet the anticipated need as this pandemic grows.

There are several reasons hospitals are on track to face dire shortages, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“About 20 or 30 years ago, we decided that we would not over-hospitalize,” Schaffner said.

Back then, hospitals often had empty hospital beds for new patients. But now, many hospitals are “absolutely full,” Schaffner said. “We have under-built hospital beds because they are very expensive.”

Also, Americans have grown accustomed to “just-in-time” ordering. But that becomes a huge problem when international supply chains are disrupted by an outbreak. “We didn’t anticipate international turbulence influencing this,” Schaffner said.

Now, some health care workers are making their own masks. They’ve also been told they can use bandanas or scarves as masks.

treatment & Prevention
What do I do if I think I’m sick?

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

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

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

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

Treatment & Prevention
What’s the best way to prevent coronavirus?

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

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

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

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

Treatment & Prevention
Should I spray myself or my kids with disinfectant?

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

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

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

And please – do not ingest chemical disinfectants.

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

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

Treatment & prevention myths & misinformation
If infected with coronavirus, can you survive it and recover?

Absolutely. The vast majority of people with coronavirus survive.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has estimated the death rate is “about 2%.”

Treatment & Prevention
How long does it take to recover?

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

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

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

Treatment & Prevention
Why waste a test kit on a person without symptoms?

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

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

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

Treatment & Prevention
Why is the US so far behind other countries with testing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

myths & misinformation
Can the heat from a hand dryer kill coronavirus?

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

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

Myths & misinformation
Can I get coronavirus from a package sent from China?

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

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

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

Myths & misinformation transmission