BOSTON (CBS) – During this time of rapidly changing information on coronavirus, Dr. Mallika Marshall has been answering your questions. You can submit them to her on Facebook or Twitter.
Marcia & Frank both asked: I keep hearing conflicting messages about masks. Should everyone wear one or not?
Dr. Mallika: The special N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers who are at the greatest risk of getting infected from sick patients. But, in terms of regular masks, health officials are reconsidering whether everyone should wear one while out in public – not really to protect the person wearing the mask, but to protect the people around them.
Many people may be infected but have no symptoms and could be spreading the virus in the community without even knowing it. But, officials stress, right now, hospital-grade masks should be reserved for healthcare workers who remain in dire need of them, so use handmade masks instead.
Holly, Facebook: What is the current backlog of testing and when will labs get caught up so we can get more accurate data?
Dr. Mallika: As you know there has been a shortage of test kits and even when people do get tested, sometimes the results don’t come back for days, which makes it hard to assess where the virus is and how it’s spreading. Fortunately, the FDA recently granted emergency-use authorization for a new coronavirus test that can give results in less than 15 minutes. They expect to roll them out this week and hope to run as many as 50,000 tests a day.
Laureen & Gail both asked: Once a person contracts this virus, does that person build an immunity to it? Can they get it again?
Dr. Mallika: We know that people who have been infected do develop antibodies and are probably protected from getting it again for some period of time. But for how long, we don’t know. That protection could wear off after months or a few years which is why having a vaccine eventually will be so important.
Vinny, Millis: What if I order pizza and a worker accidentally coughs on it. Could I get sick from eating the pizza?
Dr. Mallika: We don’t believe that you can catch the virus from eating contaminated foods. And the virus does not like high temperatures, so cooking the pizza should kill any virus that might be on it. However, if the worker coughed on the box that the pizza is in and you touched the box and then touched your nose or your eyes, you could possibly become infected. So I would suggest whenever you get takeout or delivery food, remove the food from the containers it came in and use your own plates. Also wash your hands well after handling the bags and plastic containers.