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Q&A: KPRC health reporter Haley Hernandez answers your questions on the coronavirus

Have a question? Contact Haley Hernandez by e-mail: HHernandez@kprc.com or Facebook: KPRC2 Haley Hernandez

A 70-year-old patient is currently hospitalized and in stable condition. Health officials say he tested positive after he traveled abroad and became ill upon returning to the United States.
A 70-year-old patient is currently hospitalized and in stable condition. Health officials say he tested positive after he traveled abroad and became ill upon returning to the United States. (KPRC 2)

Who in Fort Bend has it?

HOUSTON – A 70-year-old patient is currently hospitalized and in stable condition. Health officials say he tested positive after he traveled abroad and became ill upon returning to the United States.

Why won’t they tell us where this person has been? I need to know if I’ve been exposed.

Officials are citing HIPPA, which is basically a law that protects the privacy of all patients (you’re protected by this too). Any detail that could help people to determine the identity of this patient will not be released because of this law.

Health officials are being careful to protect this person's identity because they also don't want future patients to be scared of unwanted attention and avoid going to a doctor with symptoms.

However, health officials know they need to identify who this patient has been in contact with and get them quarantined. Those people will be notified. The only way to eradicate an illness is to find it and make sure it doesn't spread to other people so they will work to find out who has come in contact with this person and ask them to self-quarantine. Eventually, based on who is contacted, we may be able to gather where the presumed positive patient has traveled and other details about them.

Who needs to self-quarantine? Can I stay home from work?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease.

Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of certain diseases.

Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. The quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable diseases.

Isolation and quarantine are used to protect the public by preventing exposure to infected persons or to persons who may be infected.

The health department encourages you to have things ready to go: food, prescriptions, baby and pet supplies, in case you're asked to quarantine at home.

My Clorox wipes say it can get rid of coronavirus. I thought it was a new virus.

Yes and no.

Yes, the novel COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus and experts aren’t sure they know exactly how and why it acts the way it does. However, coronavirus is referring to a type of virus that’s been around for a while (think SARS and MERS) so that’s the type of virus that commercial products like Lysol and Clorox claim to kill.

The Houston Health Department said these commercial products are probably going to also kill COVID-19 so they do encourage using these to eliminate germs.

Helpful hint: Read the directions. Some disinfectants have directions telling you to apply the product and let it sit on surfaces for up to a minute before wiping it away. They can’t guarantee the product works unless you use it as directed.

Why are school districts excusing absences?

Pearland ISD and Fort Bend ISD have both released statements regarding Coronavirus and absences.

Pearland says in an effort to encourage people who are sick to stay home, they will not be enforcing their perfect attendance recognition after March 2, 2020.

Fort Bend said any families who choose to self-quarantine after spring break travels will not be given unexcused absences.

Both districts are still holding classes. FBISD said they're regularly cleaning classrooms.

The health departments said now is the time to think about what your family would do if schools ever had to close indefinitely. Make alternative plans for childcare now.

Why is the CDC telling me I’m not washing my hands right?

Chances are, you're not doing it long or often enough.

It seems amateur but a quick rinse with soap and water is not good enough to eliminate all the germs you're carrying on your hands.

The recommended method from the CDC is: Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If you think you're doing it right, try singing Happy Birthday TWICE to feel how long experts say you should be scrubbing.

Obviously do this every time you’re in a bathroom, but also:

Before, during, and after preparing food

Before, during, and after preparing food.

Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea.

Before and after treating a cut or wound.

After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.

After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.

After handling pet food or pet treats.

After touching garbage.

Why are stores limiting how much hand sanitizer I can buy?

Stores are having a tough time keeping this in stock. Have you seen Amazon lately? Sold out.

Experts said this isn’t even the best way to eliminate germs. The best way is washing your hands (see above).

Mosquito season is upon us. Will I get coronavirus from them?

Mosquito-borne illnesses are usually different from coronavirus, according to the health department.

“This is a brand new virus, but I highly doubt it,” David Persse, MD, said.

Can my dog get coronavirus? I heard one dog had it.

You heard right, but it only happened that one time.

According to health officials, pets cannot pass the new coronavirus on to humans, but they can test positive for low levels of the pathogen if they catch it from their owners.

That's the conclusion of Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department after a dog in quarantine tested weakly positive for the virus Feb. 27, Feb. 28 and March 2, using the canine's nasal and oral cavity samples.

The details are kind of complicated, but if you need to know more, click here.