Apr 11, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus Q&A: exercise, laundry, what counts as soap, and vaccines

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 questions on exercising outside, safely doing laundry, soaps and disinfectants, and the pneumonia vaccine.

Q: Should I go outside to exercise during the outbreak?

Q: How can I make sure I'm safely doing laundry at home or in my apartment building's laundry room?

  • The CDC recommends:
    • Avoid shaking dirty clothes because that could spread the virus, and be sure to clean and disinfect clothing hampers.
    • Wash laundry in the warmest water and dryer heat settings recommended for the fabric, and dry clothes completely before them putting away.
    • Wear disposable gloves if you are handling a sick person's clothes and wash your hands right away. Their clothes can be washed with anybody else's.
  • Marilyn Roberts, professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Washington, told Wirecutter that when using communal laundry rooms, it's best to maintain 6 feet from other people and can be wise to wipe down high-touch surfaces.
  • Wirecutter also advises that if you use a laundry service, let your laundry sit for a couple of days as viruses don't survive very long on fabric.

Q: What counts as soap? Can I use dish detergent or body wash?

  • The Food and Drug Administration says there isn't enough evidence to suggest antibacterial soap is more effective than regular hand soap, which works just fine.
  • Dish detergent, body wash and hand soap typically have similar detergent molecules that make them effective against germs. The only difference is how harsh they are on your skin, NPR found.
  • Go deeper: Your best defense against coronavirus

Q: Can I make hand sanitizer at home?

  • Experts do not recommend making your own hand sanitizer. There wouldn't be quality control to ensure the mixture has enough alcohol, among other issues, The New York Times writes.
  • You can make your own disinfectant spray or wipes at home, the CDC says. Add 5 tablespoons of unexpired household bleach per gallon of water for an effective disinfectant against the coronavirus.

Q: Could the pneumonia vaccine offer some kind of protection against COVID-19?

  • The World Health Organization states the coronavirus is so new and different it will need its own vaccine.
  • We are still at least a year away from getting an effective vaccine against the coronavirus on the market.

Go deeper: We're still in the early days of coronavirus vaccine research

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Health experts fear that the protests breaking out across the U.S. could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The state of play: Being outside may limit the danger, but close quarters, yelling, and potential exposure to tear gas, which causes coughing and crying, increase the risk of spread. It's recommended that those who are protesting be tested for the coronavirus.

10 hours ago - Health

Lessons from the lockdown — and what comes next

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

Family-commissioned autopsy says George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

Why it matters: The autopsy contradicts preliminary findings from the Hennepin County medical examiner, who found “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation,” according to charging documents against Chauvin. The official examination is still ongoing.