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 heard that COVID-19 is an unseen virus. If that’s the case then how can it be detected as a cause of death? – Andre

While you can’t see viruses with the naked eye, they can be detected in the lab on a molecular level. If someone gets sick, tests positive for the virus, and then develops characteristic changes in the lungs and other organs in the body that leads to death, it’s a good bet the virus contributed. In some cases, the cause of death may not be crystal clear, but in many others it is.

Are facemasks with plastic vents safe to use? – Laurette from E. Falmouth

Facemasks with plastic vents help keep the wearer from breathing in other people’s respiratory droplets, but they don’t keep the person wearing the mask from exhaling their respiratory droplets out into the air, which could put other people at risk during a pandemic. It’s best to choose a facemask with three-layers of cloth instead.

Should I keep my facemask on while picking up food at a drive-thru? – Ann

Many drive-thrus now help protect their workers with plastic barriers at the window and by having them wear masks. But I still think it would be nice for you, the driver, to wear a mask when you pull up to the window as an extra precaution for both you and the worker. It’s unlikely you’ll infect one another during such a quick outdoor interaction, but it would be a nice gesture. And if someone approaches your window for something, you definitely should wear a mask.

Why do some people take their masks off when they speak? – Ellice

It’s much easier to speak and to be heard when you lower your mask, but if you are indoors or near others, you should keep your mask on and do your best to speak loudly and clearly.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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