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Haley’s Health Inbox: My company is asking us to return to work. How do I know if I should go back?

Masks
Masks (Pexels)

KPRC 2′s health reporter Haley Hernandez has been answering some of your emailed questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 here in the Houston area.

We are answering a few of the top questions. You can scroll down and read questions and answers from previous days.

October 20, 2020

With COVID cases rising, what could I be doing to stay healthy?

Besides wearing a mask, social distancing, and good hygiene, there are a few supplements that seem to be helping people stay healthy. Several recent studies have looked at the impact of vitamin D and zinc on COVID-19.

One study of 489 people found that those who had a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to test positive for the virus. Another study found that of 50 people with COVID-19 in the hospital, only one needed ICU treatment after being given high doses of vitamin D.

By this point, we’ve all seen patients in the hospital receive these supplements.

The National Institutes of Health says while the supplements may be helping people they can’t prove it’s an effective treatment. Check here for more on suggested doses and other supplement recommendations.

My company is asking us to return to work. How do I know if I should go back?

The Centers for Disease Control has a few guidelines for anyone to consider before returning to a work environment. If you are at increased risk for severe illness, check with your employer to see if there are policies and practices in place to reduce your risk at work, like telework or modified job responsibilities.

Other things to think about:

  • If someone else will be taking care of your child, ask them to review information about caring for children.
  • If someone else will be providing care for a household member that is at increased risk of severe illness or needs extra precautions, ask them to review this information.
  • Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected.
  • Spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected if there is any chance that you may already be infected.

October 16, 2020

It seems like the treatment you get for COVID-19 depends on what your doctor will prescribe. (mild cases) What drugs do work for the treatment of patients with COVID-19?

There is new information out today from a trial looking into common COVID-19 drug treatments. The World Health Organization announced the long-awaited results of a six-month trial that endeavored to see if existing drugs might have an effect on the coronavirus.

The study, which was not peer-reviewed, found that four treatments tested - remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon - had " little or no effect" on whether or not patients died within about a month or whether hospitalized patients recovered. But remdesivir, an antiviral, has been classified as standard-of-care in the United States, and it has been approved for use against COVID-19 in the UK and EU.

Feeling stressed about COVID-19 and having trouble sleeping? We have tips for how to get a better night’s sleep.

Here are tips from MD Anderson’s Sleep Center Director:

  • Stick to a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Resist sleeping in.
  • Follow a daily routine. Doing the same thing each day and having a steady daily routine increases your likelihood of sleeping well at night.
  • Engage in light physical activity. When you’re stuck at home, you may need to get creative. Walk up and downstairs, lift soup cans or find a yoga video online. Be sure to stop exercising at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise, you may have trouble falling asleep.
  • Open window shades and blinds. Letting light into your house during the day helps your body regulate sleep.
  • Keep naps short. Limit naps to no more than 30 minutes, and don’t nap after 2 p.m.
  • Keep work out of the bedroom. If your job has shifted from the office to home, set up a separate work area away from the bedroom. Bedrooms are for sleeping, and should not be associated with work, which can be stressful.
  • Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
  • Avoid alcohol before going to bed. Alcohol may at first lull you to sleep, but it interferes with sleep during the night, causing you to wake up frequently. The rule is, no alcohol within four hours of bedtime. And be sure to limit all alcohol intake, as alcohol can damage cells and lead to cancer. If you choose to drink, the National Cancer Institute recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men have no more than two drinks per day. For cancer prevention, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether.
  • Check here for more sleeping tips.

October 14, 2020

Does drinking lots of water help flush out COVID-19?

The World Health Organization addressed this popular question. They say there is no evidence that drinking lots of water flushes out the new coronavirus or stomach acid kills the virus. However, for good health in general, it is recommended that people should have adequate water every day for good health and to prevent dehydration.

Another rumor they addressed is FALSE: If we take a deep breath and hold it for 10 seconds without coughing, without discomfort or tightness that means we have no COVID infection.

I had COVID and have recovered. How many times can I give plasma to help other COVID patients?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows two donations within a 7-day period, with at least 48 hours between donations.

At the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, medical director Dr. Marsha Bertholf explained, “(blood from COVID-19 survivors) contains antibodies that then can go into the patients and help fight off the virus.”

There are still many hospitalized patients that could use your help and doctors are planning for a surge in cases this fall. Part of their plans includes collecting convalescent plasma, which is possibly a life-saving treatment still under investigation.

They also test each blood donation for antibodies. That means, if you’re curious whether you might have had the virus and not shown symptoms, you can get an antibody test through a blood donation. If you are positive for antibodies, the blood center will call you and request a plasma donation.

October 9, 2020

I see people dig their masks out of their bags touching all over it. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of wearing one? Cross-contamination?

Well, you have a point. One expert we interviewed did recommend to avoid touching the “mask” part. She suggested only touching the straps of the mask when removing and if it’s a cloth mask, throwing it directly in the washing machine. Yes, this means you would wear it in the car going to and from a public location where you are wearing the mask.

Dr. Alison Haddock, with Baylor College of Medicine, said once you have been wearing it, the front of the mask is contaminated or potentially contaminated. You want to make sure you are not transmitting any of that around your home.

Is it too early to get the flu shot?

Now is the perfect time to get a flu vaccine. The CDC says getting vaccinated in July or August is too early, especially for older people, because of the likelihood of reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season. September and October are good times to get vaccinated.

Consumer reporter Amy Davis just did a helpful roundup of the cheapest places to get a flu shot when you don’t have insurance.

October 6, 2020

What is the latest on a vaccine? Is it really going to happen before election day?

The White House this week blocked new Food and Drug Administration guidelines on bringing potential vaccines for COVID-19 to market that would almost certainly have prevented their introduction before the Nov. 3 election.

At issue was the FDA’s planned instruction that vaccine developers follow patients enrolled in their trials for at least two months to rule out safety issues before seeking emergency approval from the agency.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that a vaccine could be authorized before Election Day, even though top government scientists working on the administration’s vaccine effort have stated that that timeline is very unlikely.

Why can’t everyone with COVID-19 get the same drug treatment President Trump is taking?

The drug treatment you receive depends on the doctor you see. There is no “set” treatment and doctors are learning more as time goes on. (For example, patients with certain pre-existing conditions get certain treatment while others may not.) During his battle with the coronavirus, the president has been given an antibody cocktail, the second dose of Remdesivir and a steroid therapy, which is used in more severe COVID-19 cases.

“The steroid is becoming widespread, especially in patients that are typically ill with COVID or who require ventilation or high flow oxygen,” said Dr. Hana El Sahly, an associate professor of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

El Sahly said the steroid therapy is known as Dexamethasone and has been used in less severe cases as of lately. Dexamethasone works by reducing inflammation in and around the lungs but like with many steroid therapies there are risks involved.

October 1, 2020

I got a note that my child had contact with a positive COVID-19 case at school. Should I get her tested?

The CDC says if you are in direct contact with someone who tested positive you should stay home for 14 days and be alert for symptoms. Also, call your pediatrician. Depending on who you see, they may not want you to just come in for testing without symptoms.

Your school may also have recommendations they want you to follow.

We are thinking about flying for the holidays. Will this increase my risk for COVID-19?

Yes, traveling will increase your risk of catching COVID-19. Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. The CDC says most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

September 29, 2020

In a boil water notice can you use the water to wash your hands? What about washing dishes?

The City of Lake Jackson is under a boil order and Gov. Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Brazoria county after a 6-year-old died from a parasite found in the water. Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control says about handwashing and a boil water notice.

  • In many situations, you can use tap water and soap to wash hands. Follow the guidance from your local public health officials
  • Be sure to scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and rinse them well under running water
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

Other guidelines include:

  • Use bottled or boiled water for drinking, and to prepare and cook food
  • If bottled water is not available, bring water to a full rolling boil for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes), then allow it to cool before use
  • Boil tap water even if it is filtered
  • Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water line, such as ice and water from a refrigerator
  • Breastfeeding is the best infant feeding option. If you formula feed your child, provide ready-to-use formula, if available

Do I need to do anything different with my pets during a boil water notice?

The CDC says it’s best to use the same guidelines for your pets that you do for the rest of your family.

  • Pets can get sick by some of the same germs as people or spread germs to people. Provide bottled or boiled water after it has been cooled for pets to use.
  • If bottled water is not available, bring water to a full rolling boil for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes), then allow it to cool before use.
  • Boil tap water even if it is filtered.
  • Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water line, such as ice and water from a refrigerator.

You can read more safety guidelines here.

September 23, 2020

Did the CDC really cancel Halloween?

Not exactly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did release a list of guidelines for Halloween. They put traditional Halloween activities into low-risk, moderate-risk, and high-risk for COVID-19 spread categories. It says indoor haunted houses, traditional trick-or-treating, hayrides, and costume parties are all considered high risk for spreading COVID-19 and they want us to skip them this year.

The agency says safer, “low risk” things to do this year include carving or decorating pumpkins with your own family members, an outdoor scavenger hunt or a virtual Halloween costume contest.

The CDC also released helpful guidelines about safe ways to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Now that school has been back for a lot of schools, do we know if COVID is spreading more?

There is new information about the spread of COVID with kids and teens. It appears the virus can spread among children and teens, but how easily may vary by age. Research is still underway, but children under age 10 seem to be less likely than older kids to transmit the virus to other children and adults.

Children generally don’t appear to get sick or experience symptoms as often as adults when they’re infected. Some evidence suggests that may be particularly true for younger kids. That might help explain why they appear less likely to spread the virus — they’re less likely to be coughing and sneezing.

Some of the latest evidence comes from a recent report that showed infected children in Utah daycare centers and day camps spread the virus to family members, including siblings. That suggested very young children with no symptoms or very mild ones can spread infection, but that the rate of spread was low.

September 21, 2020

I went to my child’s school and hardly any kids were wearing masks. Aren’t they supposed to make them?

Whether students have to wear masks, and the trouble they could face if they don’t, depends on where they go to school.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages masks for most students, especially when they are closer than 6 feet apart. The exceptions are children younger than 2 and those with breathing problems or who can’t remove the mask without help.

But how districts interpret the guidance varies. If you really feel concerned about the issue, kindly consult the school staff for clarification.

Is it safe to drink from a water fountain during the pandemic?

There is no evidence that shows you can get COVID-19 from a water fountain. You could be careful about how you use them when you do. For example, you could use a tissue to push the button before drinking. You could also look for a bottle and fill up the bottle instead of drinking directly from the fountain. Most places, like schools and libraries, have their water fountains closed off for public use. Schools suggest kids bring several water bottles to make it through the day since they won’t have access to water fountains during the day.

September 16, 2020

I had COVID-19 months ago but still can’t smell anything. Is that normal?

There have been many reports identifying the loss of sense of smell as one of the primary symptoms of COVID-19.

While some experience the loss for days, there are others who experience it for months. Then, there are some who, even months after having lived through COVID-19, still haven’t regained their sense of smell.

Anosmia is the temporary loss of smell, and not only is it the earliest and most commonly reported indicator of the coronavirus, but it’s also the main neurological symptom, according to Harvard Medical School.

We are traveling and staying in a hotel. Any tips on how to stay healthy?

Hotels are taking extraordinary measures to make sure guests and staff stay healthy. For general advice, the CDC says to wear a mask in the lobby or other common areas. Check the hotel’s COVID-19 prevention practices before you go. Use options for online reservation and check-in, mobile room key, and contactless payment. Ask if the hotel has updated policies about cleaning and disinfecting or removing frequently touched surfaces and items (such as pens, room keys, tables, phones, doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, water fountains, ATMs/card payment stations, business center computers and printers, ice/vending machines, and remote controls). Wear a mask in the lobby or other common areas. Check here for more tips on staying in a hotel.

September 14, 2020

We’ve had several questions about a potential coronavirus vaccine. Here is the latest:

Oxford University announced Saturday it was resuming a trial for a coronavirus vaccine it is developing with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, a move that comes days after the study was suspended following a reported side-effect in a U.K. patient.

In a statement, the university confirmed the restart across all of its U.K. clinical trial sites after regulators gave the go-ahead following the pause on Sunday. The vaccine being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca is widely perceived to be one of the strongest contenders among the dozens of coronavirus vaccines in various stages of testing around the world.

It said globally some 18,000 people have received its vaccine so far. Volunteers from some of the worst affected countries — Britain, Brazil, South Africa and the U.S. — are taking part in the trial.

Two other vaccines are in huge, final-stage tests in the United States, one made by Moderna Inc. and the other by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.

Is it true that a person is more at risk for serious COVID complications if they smoke cigarettes?

Smoking cigarettes can leave you more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19. For example, smoking is known to cause lung disease and people with underlying lung problems may have an increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19, a disease that primarily attacks the lungs. Smoking cigarettes can also cause inflammation and cell damage throughout the body and can weaken your immune system, making it less able to fight off disease.

It’s also important to think about teens. Vaping is a dangerous habit that can also impact the chances of fighting coronavirus.

September 11, 2020

I’ve noticed more people are dining out now. Is it safe?

Dining out -- as long as the right precautions are taken -- has been considered a low-risk activity, according to Dr. Asim Shah with Harris County Health. But a new government study suggests something different. CDC researchers surveyed 314 people who had symptoms of COVID-19. Those who tested positive were twice as likely to report dining out at a restaurant in the 14 days before getting sick. That is compared to adults who tested negative.

What new COVID research opportunities are available in Houston?

We just found out about this opportunity this week and timing is key if you want to participate. UT Health Science Center at Houston is collaborating with Johns Hopkins University on two new COVID-19 treatment and prevention studies. Both use convalescent plasma, and both are recruiting participants in the Houston metro area. Participants will be compensated.

The study is enrolling now. Those who have been recently exposed, or are newly diagnosed and have symptoms, can contact Johns Hopkins at 888-506-1199 or www.covidplasmatrial.org to take the enrollment questionnaire. If too many days pass, they may not qualify to participate. This study is entirely voluntary, and participants will be compensated.

September 9, 2020

I see people hanging masks from the car mirror or stacking them up on the dash. Is this defeating the purpose of wearing it?

You make a good point about germs and the mask. You really should be washing your cloth mask after each use. Our expert even suggested removing the mask at home and dropping directly into the washing machine only touching the strap part of the mask. The World Health Organization says if your fabric mask is not dirty or wet and you plan to reuse it, put it in a clean plastic, resealable bag. If you need to use it again, hold the mask at the elastic loops when removing it from the bag.

Here are a few tips from WHO concerning fabric masks.

  • Clean your hands before putting on the mask.
  • Inspect the mask for tears or holes, do not use a mask that is damaged.
  • Adjust the mask to cover your mouth, nose, and chin, leaving no gaps on the sides.
  • Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
  • Change your mask if it gets dirty or wet.
  • Clean your hands before taking off the mask.
  • Take off the mask by removing it from the ear loops, without touching the front of the mask.
  • Clean your hands after removing the mask.
  • Wash fabric masks in soap or detergent and preferably hot water (at least 60 degrees) at least once a day.
  • If hot water is not available, wash the mask in soap/detergent and room-temperature water, followed by either boiling the mask for 1 minute OR; by soaking the mask in 0.1% chlorine for 1 minute and thoroughly rinsing the mask with room temperature water (there should not be any toxic residue of chlorine on the mask).
  • Make sure you have your own mask and do not share it with others.

Someone I have been around has COVID-19. Will contact tracers contact me? What will they ask?

A contact tracer with a health department may contact you. The CDC offers guidance for contact tracers to help them ask the right questions. They’ll want to go over details of your work, home and personal interactions. Here is more from the CDC on what they are expected to say:

  • It has come to our attention that you may have been recently exposed to COVID-19.
  • Has anyone already talked to you regarding your possible COVID exposure? If so, who? Some of the early symptoms of COVID-19 can look similar to other illnesses, and sometimes, people have no symptoms. You may have been exposed by someone who had no idea they were sick.
  • In order to stop COVID-19 from spreading in the community, we follow up with people who have been exposed and work with them to make sure they get care if they need it. We also ask them to watch for symptoms and stay separate from others so that they don’t spread it by accident, if they start to get sick.
  • Someone cared enough about you to make sure that you were able to get this information, and the testing and medical care necessary to keep you, your family and others healthy.
  • This type of information can be overwhelming for many people. We want to work with you to help you get the care that you may need.
  • The name of the person who tested positive is confidential. I cannot tell you their name, just like I cannot share your personal information with others.
  • I would like to review some important information and questions with you so we can provide you with support and work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city/county/town.

September 4, 2020

Should we really avoid all public contact over Labor Day?

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this week Labor Day weekend could determine how COVID-19 spreads this fall and winter. He urged people to act responsibly and avoid the case surges we saw after Memorial Day and Fourth of July.

“Wear a mask, keep social distancing, avoid crowds,” Fauci emphasized about behavior this weekend. “You can avoid those kinds of surges. You don’t want to be someone who’s propagating the outbreak. You want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

If you do plan on having a gathering, there are a few safety precautions you can take to keep people safe. Avoid communal appetizer or condiment stations, give every table small bags of chips or nuts, put masks on tables as party favors.

When should I get a flu shot? I don’t want to get it too early.

Make sure to time the vaccine just right in order to have protection the entire flu season. Which means, late this month or October will be the perfect window to get one that can provide protection through May. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after the vaccine. The CDC recommends children try to be immunized by the end of October.

September 2, 2020

What can you tell us about the latest numbers released by the CDC about COVID deaths? That only 6% of deaths have COVID as the only factor?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data last week explaining COVID-19 deaths. The report does show that 6% of deaths have COVID-19 as the only cause mentioned. This means 94% of people who died also had other health conditions and contributing factors.

These numbers are based on death certificates, which the agency says are the most reliable source of data. Death certificates reportedly contain information that is not available anywhere else and includes comorbid conditions, race and ethnicity, and place of death.

Here is what the CDC says about recording COVID deaths: When COVID-19 is reported as a cause of death on the death certificate, it is coded and counted as a death due to COVID-19. COVID-19 should not be reported on the death certificate if it did not cause or contribute to the death.

Why don’t schools just do COVID testing each week to see who might be sick?

Experts do not recommend schools requiring staff and students to get tested. The logistics of this would be tough, but also, you could test negative for COVID-19 and then the next day, start feeling bad and discover you have it.

Symptom tracking and isolation and contact tracing of students and staff with positive test results seem is the most common recommendation for schools. School districts have spelled out what they plan to do when a case happens. You can check your district here.

Should I get tested for COVID-19 if I have been around someone who tested positive?

The CDC actually just changed the recommendation on testing. Some people who have been exposed may no longer need to get tested. The CDC now states those who have been in close contact don’t necessarily need a test as long as they do not have symptoms. If you start seeing any symptoms, you should immediately get tested.

Previous recommendations said all close contacts with someone who had the virus should be tested.

August 28, 2020

Is it true there is already a COVID-19 vaccine?

Not exactly. There are dozens of potential vaccines in the works right now. Britain is preparing to revise its laws to allow the emergency use of any effective coronavirus vaccine before it is fully licensed — but only if the shots meet required safety and quality standards.

The proposed regulations would allow coronavirus vaccines to receive emergency approval allowing people to be immunized while the full licensing process is being finished. Typically, vaccines are only used after the licensing review has been completed, a process that can take several months.

I had COVID but I only felt bad for 3 days. Does this mean I am recovered?

Here is what the CDC says about this. If you do not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers), AND
  • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved), AND
  • at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

Can the COVID-19 test tell the difference between someone with an active infection and someone who was infected in the past?

Current tests for COVID-19 look for the presence of the virus in your body which means there’s an active infection. A serologic test looks for evidence that you may have been infected in the past.

August 26, 2020

Where can I get dialysis if mine closes from the hurricane?

For help, the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) is available by phone 24/7 to answer your questions regarding kidney conditions and emergency events. Contact the KCER Helpline 866-901-3773.

Here is more helpful information about drug storage if you are out of town. Drugs exposed to flood or unsafe municipal water may become contaminated. This contamination may lead to serious health effects. Drugs exposed to unsafe water should be replaced as soon as possible. Drugs — even those in their original containers with screw-top caps, snap lids, or droppers — should be discarded if they came into contact with flood or contaminated water. In addition, medicines placed in other storage containers should be discarded if the medicines came in contact with flood or contaminated water.

Since we are still taking precautions against COVID-19, If the storm damage causes a boil water advisory, can I still use tap water to wash my hands?

In most cases, it is safe to wash your hands with soap and tap water during a Boil Water Advisory. Follow the guidance from your local public health officials. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

August 19, 2020

Is it safe to go in beach water (either Surfside beach or Galveston)? Is it true the virus lingers in the water because so many people go into it?

The water itself is actually said to be safe. Infectious disease doctors don’t think the virus can survive and thrive long in a big body of water and since it’s diluted quickly then you are OK to swim. However, the concern is when beaches are crowded and you’re around a lot of people there because it’s more likely you’d come into contact with the virus through other people at the beach. If you decide to go to the beach, try to find a place that is far away from others.

Does someone by law have to tell others they have been in contact with if they contract COVID-19?

While it would be nice and responsible for someone you were around to tell you if they got COVID-19, it’s not required by anyone. In fact, even employers don’t legally have to notify employees if a coworker tests positive. However, most companies are notifying employees when there is a positive case. Privacy laws prohibit them from saying who the person is, but in most cases, the company will let everyone know.

Should anyone who had COVID-19 try to donate plasma?

If you’ve received a positive COVID-19 test result, you’re exactly the person wanted for donating convalescent plasma. You should ask your doctor first if you are an ideal candidate.

It’s a personal decision if you would like to donate plasma to help someone else. We are learning more about the potential benefits. Health experts have identified that plasma received from someone who has survived COVID-19 can be extremely beneficial to others who may contract the virus. Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These patients develop antibodies in the blood against the virus, which, in turn, helps those who are currently suffering from the coronavirus.

The FDA just released a new campaign to encourage more people to donate plasma.

August 17, 2020

Can you get coronavirus from being around someone who is smoking?

It doesn’t appear that secondhand smoke can transmit coronavirus. But, experts do think a sick person could blow droplets carrying the virus when they exhale smoke. For this reason, you could be exposed to the virus. Here’s a good tip: if you can smell the smoke you might be too close to the smoker. This is also true for someone who is vaping. Any sort of exhaling of smoke or air is a method of spreading germs.

Is it safe to drink from a water fountain right now?

There is no evidence you can get coronavirus from water. But, the virus could be lingering on surfaces. You may want to avoid fountains or if you use them, to limit touching them. For example, you can use a tissue to push the button. If you don’t have that handy, just make sure to wash your hands right away and avoid touching your nose and mouth.

For schools, the CDC is advising that schools close off water fountains at schools. Many districts in our area are asking kids to bring bottled water. If you are a parent, it might be a good idea to pack multiple bottles of water for the day. (But check first, your school may have the water bottle refill fountains which would be touch-free and most likely safe to use.)

Is it safe to have someone in my home right now to do work?

Many home service companies are taking extra precautions during this time. We showed you a few companies that go into homes, looking at what each is doing. For example, plumbers are wearing PPE, wiping down areas, and disinfecting their equipment before entering. Other service providers like carpet cleaners and exterminators are doing the same thing—eliminating as much contact as possible with clients. You can see more about what companies are doing here.

Experts say no matter who you allow into your home, stay away from them. Have them talk to you via a computer or over the phone, instead of face-to-face.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, KPRC 2′s health reporter, Haley Hernandez, along with producer, Andrea Slaydon have worked tirelessly to answer hundreds of health-related questions from viewers. You can find the full archive here.