By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow, we are receiving a number of questions from the public. Dr. Mallika Marshall answered some of the questions sent to WBZ-TV’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

What does ‘non-conclusive’ mean regarding COVID-19 test results? – Karen, Facebook

An inconclusive test means it can’t confirm whether a patient is positive or negative for the coronavirus. The current test looks for the presence of two genes associated with the virus. If both genes are found, the test is positive. If neither is found, it’s negative. And if only one gene is found, the test is inconclusive and needs to be repeated.

I know of at least five people in my circle who have had all of the typical COVID symptoms (body aches, chills, fever, etc.) but yet tested negative. Is there something else going around? – Susan, Facebook

Depending on when they became sick, it’s possible they actually had the flu. Other viruses can cause cold and flu-like symptoms. And it’s also possible that they had coronavirus but had false-negative tests, meaning their tests came back negative even though they actually had the infection. Getting an antibody test, though not widely available yet, could help determine whether they had COVID or not.

How safe are the meat supply and produce supply chains? Should we be looking to join local CSAs? – Harriet

I think it’s always nice when you can support community supported agriculture and local farmers, but that’s not an option for everyone. And remember you don’t get coronavirus from eating contaminated food. You would get it from touching your contaminated hands to your face. So wash produce well.  And after handling raw meat, wash your hands well and then cook it thoroughly. The coronavirus does not like heat so cooking food will kill the virus.

Has there been a study as to the benefits of the pneumonia vaccine as it relates to COVID-19? – Ed

The pneumonia vaccine helps prevent bacterial pneumonia but the coronavirus is a virus. So the pneumonia vaccine won’t prevent infection with the coronavirus and probably won’t help prevent severe COVID-19 complications. But this is something that will be studied.

Dr. Mallika Marshall