SAQ: Your coronavirus questions answered

We’re getting the answers to your questions about COVID-19

SAN ANTONIO – As the novel coronavirus spreads in the United States and across the globe, there are many questions about the virus, how it spreads and how we should react as individuals and communities.

We are listening to your questions and reaching out to get the correct answers to help you and your family stay safe. Sign up for our free SAQ newsletter to get answers to the most common questions in your inbox.

Here are some of the questions we’ve been asked:

Is it safe to exercise outside?

Is it accurate to say that taking ibuprofen for fever/pains/aches while you have COVID-19 will worsen symptoms?

The short answer is that there is no data to support that ibuprofen could worsen COVID-19 symptoms.

France’s health ministry suggested on social media that popular anti-inflammatory painkillers could worsen the effects of COVID-19, but his warning was quickly questioned by major health agencies and regulators.

The World Health Organization and other leading agencies now say there is no evidence to support the suggestion that ibuprofen might worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.

You can read more about the topic here.

If a person has had a Pneumonia vaccine does this help to prevent Coronavirus infection?

The World Health Organizations says while vaccines are important, the pneumococcal or flu vaccines will not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

Is there an increased risk for pregnant women or the baby she’s carrying?

The CDC says because COVID-19 is still a new disease, there is a lot that is unknown about it, including whether the disease can cause problems with pregnancies or if it can be passed to the fetus.

“With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses.”

You can read more about the topic on the CDC’s website.

Can the new coronavirus be spread by mosquitos?

The World Health Organization says:

“To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes.”

WATCH: What are the risk factors of COVID-19?

What’s the difference between the coronavirus and COVID-19?

Here is the explanation from the World Health Organization:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and humans.

“Novel coronavirus” means “new coronavirus.” The current novel, or new coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic now has a name.

The virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2.

The disease is called coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names. For example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. People often know the name of a disease, such as measles, but not the name of the virus that causes it (rubeola).

You can read more about the explanation here.

How is the new coronavirus spread?

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can get into the mouths and noses of people nearby (within about 6 feet) or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Some viruses spread more easily than others and the virus that causes COVID-19 “seems to be spreading easily and sustainably,” according to the CDC.

What should I do if I feel sick?

“A lot of people can stay home just like if you had the flu,” said Junda Woo, medical director for the San Antonio Metro Health District.

Local hospitals are urging you not to go to the ER unless you’re in respiratory distress, and even then you should call ahead. If you have severe breathing problems, call 911.

If you think you have COVID-19, your first call would be to your primary care physician.

If you don’t have a doctor, you can call a nearby clinic and ask for instruction.

Low-income individuals and families should seek care at a federally-qualified health center including CommuniCare, CentroMed and University Health System clinics.

Most of the cases of COVID-19 have been minor and it’s just a matter of managing the symptoms which include fever and cough. It’s only the most severe cases that would need to go to the hospital. There, an infected person would be treated with oxygen and possibly offered an experimental anti-viral medication.

Click here for more about what to do if you feel sick.

How does a person get tested/how many tests are available in San Antonio?

Right now, only people who meet the testing criteria will be screened for the virus. That determination would be made by your doctor. So again, if you’re concerned that you may have COVID-19, your first call would be to your doctor.

Your doctor will collect a nasal sample with a nasopharyngeal swab, just like a flu test.

Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott identified 10 public health labs in Texas who will be able to test for the disease.

The labs are in Lubbock, Fort Worth, Dallas, Tyler, El Paso, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Harlingen.

“This new ability to provide testing in the state will shorten the time to get the test results,” Abbott said.

Drive-through COVID-19 testing is now in San Antonio. Here’s what we know.

Can someone get COVID-19 more than once?

The bottom line is that it’s too soon to tell because the virus is too new. Right now, anyone who hasn’t been exposed has no antibodies against it.

Once a person has COVID-19, Health experts aren’t sure what the immunity will be, but think the chance of reinfection is likely,

Why are events being canceled?

Communities are working now to limit exposure to and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Large gatherings can increase the risk of exposure. Also, large events can strain the planning and response resources in a community.

On Friday, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg issued a public health emergency that prohibits large gatherings of 500 people or more at least seven days.

These events, schools have been canceled, postponed, modified around San Antonio area over coronavirus

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is a public health intervention in which people are encouraged to keep physical distance from others in order to slow the spread of illness.

According to the CDC, social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 to 10 feet) from others when possible.

Why was JBSA-Lackland chosen to hold coronavirus evacuees?

When KSAT asked officials at Lackland why the base was chosen as a quarantine site, they said the Department of Defense chose it because it has the resources required to meet the needs of this effort.

“JBSA has some of the largest lodging capacity in the DOD, including the most single rooms without shared bathrooms, space to isolate quarantined passengers from the rest of the installation and local population, and easy access to world-class medical facilities in the San Antonio community,” officials said in a statement to KSAT.

Officials said Lackland has a flight line with secured boundaries that are capable of receiving large commuter aircraft.

Can you get it from handling a package or mail from China or elsewhere?

Here is the latest answer from the CDC:

“There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV). The virus that causes COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats. While we don’t know for sure that this virus will behave the same way as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, we can use the information gained from both of these earlier coronaviruses to guide us. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website as it becomes available.”

How affective are masks? Should I buy one?

Can house pets get coronavirus?

What does San Antonio’s emergency declaration do?

On Monday, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced a new 7-day emergency declaration intended to help stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Click here to read what the emergency declaration does - and doesn’t - do.

What does flatten the curve mean?

Why are some grocery stores only allowing a certain number of people in at a time?

We reached out to H-E-B spokesperson Julie Bedingfield and here’s what she told us:

“We’re limiting the amount of people in the doors at the start of the day to ensure customer safety. Throughout the day, our store leaders are making sure customers are practicing social distancing and may limit customers through the door periodically. H-E-B store leadership will continue to monitor the amount of people in store. If customers are unable to maintain a safe social distance, our store leaders will pause allowing more customers into the store until flow supports social distancing.”

*Still have questions? Submit your questions about the coronavirus below:

About the Authors

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

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