Apr 18, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus Q&A: masks, lending books and self-isolating

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 five questions on reusing masks, keeping up with specialist doctor's appointments, being neighborly, self-quarantining and handling outside food.

Q: What are the best practices for reusing and cleaning face masks?

  • For cloth masks:
    • The CDC advises laundering the masks in a washing machine with detergent.
    • The University of Utah advises going a step further and recommends washing masks in water that's at least 160°F with soap or detergent. It also recommends soaking cloth masks for 5 minutes in a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach per quart of water.
  • For N95 masks:
    • The FDA does not recommend the reuse of N95 masks by the general public. It advises that the general public use cloth masks and keep N95s available for health care professionals.

Go deeper: New coronavirus surge: Disinfecting health care worker face masks

Q: What is the best way to keep up with specialist appointments like physical therapy?

  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams advises postponing elective surgeries to avoid stressing the hospital system and possibly exposing patients to the virus.
  • The American Physical Therapy Association recommends rescheduling non-urgent in-person care. It's worth noting that many physical therapists are utilizing tele-health and video conferencing to work with their patients.
  • Communicate with your health care provider about possible alternatives and the best way to move forward.

Q: How can I be a considerate neighbor? Can I offer or accept home-cooked foods or share books?

Go deeper... Q&A: How can I best help my community while social distancing?

Q: How long should I self-isolate after testing positive?

  • The CDC published guidelines for how and when to discontinue isolation after testing positive.
    • The signs for recovery include: 3 days without fever and without the use of fever-reducing medicines, improvement of respiratory symptoms, and the passage of 7 days since the symptoms first appeared.
    • The CDC site also notes that you can request a test to confirm recovery, but they may be limited.
    • Those who tested positive for the virus but don't have symptoms should isolate for at least 7 days after their first positive diagnostic test.
  • Your doctor can provide the best guidance for your specific health concerns.

Q: Can I microwave or freeze my food to kill the virus on the packages?

  • The FDA says there's no evidence of food packaging or food itself being associated with coronavirus transmission.
  • The CDC states that coronaviruses generally "survive for shorter periods at higher temperatures and higher humidity than in cooler or dryer environments," but there isn't any direct data to support a temperature-based cutoff for the virus.

Go deeper

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.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

The pandemic’s health side effects are growing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nearly half of Americans said that either they or someone in their household has skipped or delayed needed medical care because of the coronavirus, according to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Why it matters: Shutting down elective medical care may have been necessary, particularly in coronavirus hotspots, but will have lasting effects on some patients.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 5,682,389 — Total deaths: 354,944 — Total recoveries — 2,337,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 1,697,459 — Total deaths: 100,276 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  8. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  9. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy