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.

Aimee asks, “If I am with someone hanging around, and we are both masked, do I still need to distance (indoors and outdoors)?”

Yes. The mask provides significant protection but some respiratory droplets can still escape, so even if you’re wearing a mask, especially if you’re indoors, you should keep at least 6 feet distance between you and someone else.

Cynthia in Haverhill asks, “Why are people removing face masks when they need to sneeze? Shouldn’t you keep your mask on AND sneeze into a bent elbow?”

Yes, it defeats the purpose to remove your mask when you sneeze.  Even if you sneeze into your elbow, you’re releasing respiratory droplets out into the atmosphere. It may feel unnatural to sneeze with a mask on but that’s what it’s there for, to contain droplets when you exhale, cough, or sneeze.

Here’s a question from Facebook. Linda wants to know if the coronavirus can be carried on jewelry.

The coronavirus can contaminate any surface, including metal. Is it likely you’ll catch coronavirus from jewelry?  No, but it’s theoretically possible. For example, I don’t wear jewelry when I see patients now, just in case it could become contaminated. So, like any other surface, you should wash or disinfect jewelry that you think might have become contaminated by someone else.

Kathy writes on Facebook, “Why are grocery stores allowed to have open produce for everyone to touch. Is this a risk?”

People not only touch produce but any number of items at the grocery store and then put them back on store shelves. But it’s not a risk if you disinfect your hands after leaving the grocery store and wash your produce well when you get home.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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