By Dr. Mallika Marshall


BOSTON (CBS) —  As Massachusetts continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the public has plenty of questions. Dr. Mallika Marshall answered some of those sent to her email (drmallika@cbs.com) and Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Is it true that if someone tested positive for COVID-19 that they will always test positive because they have the antibody in them?”Lina

There are two main tests right now. One is a swab in the nose that looks for the actual virus in the body. The other is a blood test that looks for antibodies to the virus. Once the virus is gone from the body, the nasal swab test should turn negative. But if you have been infected or exposed to the coronavirus, the blood test will continue to show antibodies to the virus for some time. We’re just not sure for how long they stick around.

“I am over 75 and have Lupus. My family would like to come to visit for Memorial Day weekend. Is it too soon or okay?” -Ann

I hate to say it, but I think it’s still too soon. I was also supposed to visit my mom who is in her 70s this holiday weekend but it’s not worth the risk. If your family comes and stays outside of the house, wears masks, and visits from a distance, that’s one thing. But given you’re in a high-risk group, you should continue to keep your distance from anyone who does not live with you, even if they, too, have been in quarantine.

“I am 80 with multiple pre-existing conditions. Is it safe to get my auto inspection sticker? It seems that there should be some exception for those most at risk from COVID-19.” -George

It appears here in Massachusetts, vehicle inspection stickers have been extended for 60 days. So, for example, stickers that expire May 31 will now expire at the end of July. If you do have to get your car serviced and no one can do it for you, the technicians should wear masks and gloves and keep the windows open for maximum ventilation. Before you get in the car, wipe everything down with disinfectant, just to be on the safe side.

“How you can be so sure that fruits and veggies aren’t contaminated with the virus at grocery stores?” -A caller 

Remember, you’re not going to catch the coronavirus by eating food that may be contaminated, including fruits and veggies. When you get home, wash off fruits and veggies just like you would have done before the pandemic, then wash your hands with soap and water.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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