Apr 25, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus Q&A: Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagious

Illustration of coronavirus surrounded by question marks
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the U.S., Axios is answering readers' questions about the pandemic — how it spreads, who's at risk and what you can do to stay safe.

What's new: This week, we answer four questions on vulnerability for those with asthma, traveling across state lines, being contagious, safely washing dishes and alternatives to Lysol and Clorox.

Q: Is it safe for me to travel across state lines right now? I'm thinking about visiting some family.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't issue any travel advisories but cautions every state has confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
  • The CDC recommends:
    • Older people or those with pre-existing conditions avoid cruise and nonessential air travel.
    • Travelers consider the level of infection where you are traveling from and to. You could possibly be infected and not know it.

Q: Is it better to wash dishes by hand or in a dishwasher to effectively kill the virus?

  • How you wash your dishes doesn't really matter as long as you use soap and hot water, the CDC states. But if you wash dishes by hand, wearing gloves is recommended.

Q: We've been able to get some toilet paper, but not hand sanitizer, Lysol or Clorox wipes. Any idea when they might become available?

  • It's not clear when manufacturers will be able to get the products to stores, so they can restock shelves and keep up with demand, but there are some alternatives.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has an extensive list of products approved to disinfect surfaces (not humans) against the coronavirus.
  • You can make your own disinfectant spray or wipes, the CDC says. Mix 5 tablespoons of unexpired household bleach per gallon of water.
  • As for hand sanitizer, experts do not recommend making hand sanitizer.

Q: Could COVID-19 impact me more if I've got asthma?

Q: How soon do I become contagious after getting infected?

  • First, if you come into contact with someone who has the virus or are experiencing symptoms yourself, reach out to your doctor.
  • How quickly someone becomes contagious after getting infected is not clear. Symptoms can take several days to pop up. Symptoms typically appear within four or five days after exposure, Harvard Health writes.
  • Harvard does say they believe people are at their most contagious early in the course of their illness, but they could still be contagious for up to eight days after they are feeling better.
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