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10 Coronavirus Must-Know Questions (and Answers) from Rep. Clarke’s Telephone Town Hall

This week Rep. Clarke hosted a telephone town hall about the Coronavirus. She was joined by health care professionals who shared the latest on Coronavirus/COVID-19 along with tips on how to stay protected. These experts included Dr. Jon Andrus, a Public Health Professor at George Washington University and Christopher Smith, Director at Emergency Preparedness & Trauma Response and Sarah Duvall, Director of Quality Advocacy, Research and Innovation, both from the Healthcare Association of New York State. 

Below are 10 must-know questions about Coronavirus/COVID-19 from the telephone town hall:
1. What steps can I take to protect myself from contracting the virus?
Frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough can help stop the spread of germs. Additionally it is important to avoid being around people who have been exposed to Coronavirus, which is why you are hearing about people who are self-quarantining if they suspect they could carry the germs.One tip for when going to the grocery store: make sure to sanitize your hands throughout the visit and use a wipe to clean the cart. 

2. Any tips to find disinfectants (like Clorox wipes, Lysol spray and hand sanitizers) or updates on when these products will be available? They are sold out online and in stores.
As soon as China turns a corner and starts manufacturing and getting back into business, adequate supplies will start to become available. Unfortunately this isn’t  looking to be anytime soon, but hopefully a month from now or so those products will become more available. The better job we do about not spreading this disease around now, the more quickly we can anticipate the production of more disinfectant supplies. It is important that individuals practice basic precautions by washing their hands and staying away from sick people with the virus— which will then create the opportunity for a better response to handling the disease.

3. What are the symptoms of Coronavirus and when should we get tested? 
The symptoms can appear similarly between Coronavirus and the flu. We are still learning about Coronavirus and all its symptoms–fever, shortness of breath and coughing could indicate either influenza, COVID-19 or even any other viruses that appear in the winter and springtimes. It’s important to reach out to your medical provider if you’re experiencing symptoms, so they can help ask questions to determine someone’s diagnosis and treatment plan on a case-by-base basis. There are virtual options for seeking medical care, which can be a great first step.  

4. How is the test for the Coronavirus administered and do you need a letter from your doctor to get tested?
The test consists of a swab of the back of the throat and back of the nose area. While a letter from your doctor is not required, you should discuss testing with your doctor. 

5. How can someone pass along the Coronavirus when asymptomatic? If not sneezing or coughing, how can they infect others?
Asymptomatic individuals will infect others the same way someone with symptoms would— through germ-infused coughing and sneezing. Those individuals just don’t show signs of symptoms of the Coronavirus, yet are spreading these germs before their symptoms appear.

6. How quickly do symptoms of Coronavirus appear? 
The time from exposure to Coronavirus to when someone’s symptoms appear can range between two and 14 days.
7. How long does the virus live on surfaces?
Studies are still in the process, but what is currently being reported is the virus likely lives on surfaces somewhere between 24 and 48 hours. It’s important to practice hand-sanitizing techniques, like washing for 20 seconds with soap and water or hand sanitizer. Use disinfectant wipes and sprays on surfaces where others have touched.

8. Should I accept packages from China or Italy or other highly-impacted countries? 
At this point it’s believed that it is safe to accept packages from other countries.. Although we must practice caution, and diligence in hygiene practices,  it’s important that people continue to go about their lives.

9. Should I cancel travel? How should I stay safe during travel? 
Where you travel and how you travel can really make a difference and is always evolving as the virus spreads, so go to to get the most-current information on how to stay protected while traveling.

10. Can humans get the new Coronavirus from cats and dogs?
It is unclear whether Coronavrius can be spread from pets to humans, because there isn’t enough information yet. There are a few studies that show humans transmitting the Coronavirus to animals, however this is very uncommon.Experts are suggesting, if you’re sick to try to stay away from your pets, as a precaution.

Listen below to the full telephone town hall for answers to more questions about Coronavirus/COVID-19.

Disclaimer: These answers were compiled using information from the telephone town hall and from other expert sources. The information is accurate at the time of publication and is published for informational use only. For the latest information on Coronavirus/COVID-19 visit Readers are encouraged to always seek the advice of a health care provider for treatment and information regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19.