Answering common questions about the coronavirus with an epidemiologist

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With the coronavirus receiving plenty of attention in the media, it’s important to weed out misinformation that could spread just as fast as the virus.

News 12 spoke with Dr. Susan Donelan, an epidemiologist from Stony Brook University Hospital, to help with answers to frequently asked questions.

If I get the coronavirus -- I'll definitely know, right?


Dr. Donelan: “In the milder forms, it's going to look and feel like a common cold or a mild flu.”

Wearing a surgical mask will protect me from getting the virus.


Dr. Donelan: “If I'm sick, I would wear a surgical mask across my nose and mouth to prevent my germs from reaching you. They're not meant to prevent other people's germs from getting to me.”

I'm safe if I wear the masks that health care workers are wearing.

False. Health care workers wear the disposable N95 masks that are specifically fit tested for them.    

Dr. Donelan: “If you don't have the right size, if you don't have the right shape, if you have a beard or if you have stubble, if you have a narrow chin or wide cheeks, if there's any way to let air get through the edges of it, if it's not a tight seal – you’re wasting your money.”

PHOTOS: The impact of the coronavirus around the world

I should be worried about getting letters and packages from China.

False. Experts say it's highly unlikely the virus could withstand the lengthy trip from China on porous surfaces like paper or cardboard. 

Antibiotics don't work to treat coronavirus

True. Doctors say there is no medicine to treat the virus, only the symptoms.

There's a vaccine coming soon right?


Dr. Donelan: “There may be a vaccine coming. There are a lot of places working on it, but it's likely going to be a year.”

Thermal scanners at the airports can detect someone who is infected. 

False. Scanners do show if someone's body temperature is above normal, but don't explain why. 

Will warmer weather stop the spread of the virus?

Unknown. Doctors say they just don't know enough about this virus to say what will happen.

Dr. Donelan: “We have yet to understand how well it will or will not transmit once the weather changes.”

Coronavirus Prevention: What you can do to protect yourself


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