PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – We asked viewers to submit questions about novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, on our official KDKA Facebook page.

KDKA’s Ken Rice sat down with Dr. Brian Lamb — an internal medicine specialist from Allegheny Health Network to get some answers.

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Cheryl McCall: I have heard several reports stating that face masks will not help in the spread of this virus. If that is true, why are all medical personnel who are either transporting or coming in contact with any possible infected person wearing one?

“Not everyone is wearing them,” Dr. Lamb says. He says the face masks we see from the public health sector are masks worn by trained professionals and slightly different than masks you can buy over-the-counter.

He says the masks worn by medical personnel are airtight. No particles can get in. But that’s not the case with over-the-counter masks.

“The recommendation is the regular masks that people would buy aren’t going to protect them,” Dr. Lamb says.

These masks may even be counter-productive, he says, as people not used to wearing them may touch their faces more.

Terri Mckail Hackimer: Is there reliable testing available to detect the virus?

Dr. Lamb says there is testing, although it’s not widely available yet. There’s no capability to do widespread testing yet.

“It’s likely that actually worldwide there are very more cases than what we’ve seen,” he says.

It’s possible that hundreds of thousands of more people could be infected or exposed to coronavirus, but in most cases, people will have no symptoms or mild symptoms.


Marie McMasters: How long does the virus survive outside the body without a host?

“So we’re still looking into that,” Dr. Lamb says. Some coronaviruses have been found to live for up to nine days, others just for hours.

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It depends on several factors, like the humidity level and temperature and the surface the virus is on.

“Every coronavirus is different,” he says. “We’re talking about a multitude of different coronaviruses and seeing how long this one actually lasts.”

Most viruses like winter weather — cooler and drier temperatures.

Justin Douglas: When it comes to a fever, what number is… The virus? Anything over 100? Or is it higher than that?

“There is no specific virus number that we can say ‘this is coronavirus.’ Low-grade fevers can be found in anything, high-grade fevers can be found in a lot of different viruses. So there’s no magic number where we can say ‘this is coronavirus, versus the flu, versus the common cold.'”

Ora Lee Sampey Harshman: How long does it take to get well and how is it decided when someone is well enough to go out in public?

Dr. Lamb says they’re still looking into that. Right now, there’s still no safe number.

“The 14-day quarantine, we’re not really sure if that’s going to be adequate,” he says.

Linda Norge: I’m flying to Arizona then Texas this weekend, is it safe or should I postpone the trip?

For that, he recommends everyone goes to CDC’s website for travel restrictions.

“No one can tell you whether it’s safe to fly. And no one can say ‘this is a good idea’ or ‘this is a bad idea,'” he says.

“The best thing you can do is look at the CDC recommendations, and you have to judge it for yourself.”

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He says they don’t want people to panic. Instead, take precautions like washing your hands and not shaking hands with people.