By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, email her or message her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dr. Mallika is offering her best advice, but as always consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your personal health.

“I’ve heard that if you go to a gathering you should bring your own food. If it’s safe to eat take-out food from restaurants cooked by strangers, why not share food at a gathering of friends?” –Virginia 

The issue is not with the food itself, because eating food contaminated with the virus will not make you sick. It’s sharing the serving utensils and dishes. For example, if someone infected with the virus has the virus on their hands, then touches the spoon used to serve the potato salad, there is a chance that someone else who then touches that spoon could then become infected.

“There are so many concerns about the safety of patrons going to restaurants. What about the safety of the servers who will wear face masks while their customers will not?”

I do worry about the servers myself, Carolyn. In an outdoor setting, there is less risk due to the increased ventilation provided by being outside. But indoors, I think it is a concern. So we should do our part to minimize their risk by not going to restaurants if we feel sick, wearing our masks until after we’ve ordered, and limiting our interaction with the wait staff while we’re there.

“I have COPD and it’s hard to breathe while wearing a mask. I have to take the mask off every couple of minutes to get fresh air. What should I do?” -John

I know that must be hard. And all I can say is to do your best. You’re at high risk of developing COVID-related complications so you should be limiting the amount of time you spend away from home and therefore needing to wear a mask anyhow. If you do need to go in public, avoid going out when it’s hot and humid which makes wearing a mask even more uncomfortable and choose a cloth mask with breathable fabric.

“I have been frightened to tears during this whole coronavirus pandemic, but I just started to go out in public and feel somewhat more relaxed these days. But am I letting my guard down thinking this “frenzy” might be over?” -Lynn

I’m glad that you’re feeling more relaxed. But I do worry that we may all get a little complacent as we start to return to beauty salons, stores, and restaurants because the pandemic is not over, and probably won’t be for some time. So we need to keep wearing our masks out in public and limiting our activities if we or people we live with are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from this virus.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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