By Dr. Mallika Marshall

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.

“My mother and I would like to be tested but are told we don’t qualify. When will testing be available to all?”Joe on Facebook

As you may know, some of the hardest-hit communities in Massachusetts are now offering free testing even for patients without symptoms. But that’s not true everywhere. And even in some of those cities, the lines are long and it’s taking even longer to get test results than before. So I don’t have a good answer for you. We’re hoping that testing will become even more widespread, but right now, it’s just not possible for everyone who wants a test to get a test.

“We are all worried about children going back to school. It is hard for young kids to be compliant with masks. Has anyone considered having them wear face shields?” – Wendy on Facebook

While face shields can be helpful in some situations, masks do a much better job of containing respiratory droplets. And sure, it is tough for some kids to keep a mask on for long periods of time. I have been so impressed seeing kids as young as two in the clinic, on the street and in stores wearing masks and keeping them on. Kids are pretty resilient, and I think we’ll be surprised how quickly they can adapt.

“I’ve read that beach water is safe during the virus, but what about beach sand? Is it safe to be on a beach towel or blanket?” – Mary

Yes, you’re not going to catch the coronavirus from beach sand. So you can sit or lie on the beach, but you need to keep your distance from others while doing it.

“I am 71 with COPD and limited lung function. Is it okay for me to spend a day at the beach?” – Margaret

You’re at particularly high risk, so you need to be especially cautious. I think it’s fine to go to the beach as long as you stay far from any other people on the beach. The biggest risk is for you to breathe in someone else’s respiratory droplets. So being outdoors in open space is a good thing, but you just can’t venture to close to others.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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