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 been making masks for adults using three layers of 100% cotton. For kids, should I still use three layers or is two acceptable for the classroom? – Judy on Facebook

Masks made with two layers of fabric are generally fine but three layers is better. It’s also important to make sure the masks cover the nose and fit tightly around the cheeks and under the chin.

Beth is a teacher returning to the classroom but is concerned about her elderly parents who live with her. She wonders if she can be in the same room with them without putting them at risk.

This is a concern for many teachers returning to work. What to do about people they live with who may be at risk? Be as careful as you can while in the classroom, wearing a mask at all times when in close proximity to the kids and other staff, using hand sanitizer, and trying to stay in well-ventilated spaces wherever possible. And if feasible, wear a mask around your elderly parents and wipe off common surfaces with disinfectant.

Another teacher writes, “Does having my water bottle with a straw exposed to the air/elements become a transmitter for COVID-19?”

When you’re wearing a mask, it makes it a lot easier to take a sip from your drink if you use a straw. If people are wearing masks, it’s unlikely that simply having an exposed straw is going to put you at risk. I know at our clinic, some nurses put a plastic bag on top, but honestly, they were doing that long before COVID.

Should preschoolers in a dance class use props such as wands, balls, ribbons, and scarves even if they each hold their own, knowing the next class will be using the same props? – Lynn

You’re probably less likely to catch the virus by touching contaminated objects than by breathing in contaminated respiratory droplets. However, I don’t think it’s wise to have children reusing items in a class unless they have been disinfected first.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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