Ask Dr. Nandi: Answering viewer questions about coronavirus

Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 10:12:46-04

(WXYZ) — Ten days ago, we had two cases of the coronavirus in Michigan. Now we have over 300 cases. And 3 deaths.

As the virus continues to spread, it’s causing a lot of fear and uncertainty. So today, to help ease some anxiety, our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi will answer a few of our viewer’s questions.

Our first question comes from Kris. He wrote in asking, “Can the virus be on money? Also I thought (it’s a) good idea to use debit card or credit card so no money need to be exchanged”.

Thank you Kris for asking that question, I know a lot of people are wondering about this as well. Now recent research found that the coronavirus was able to live up to 24 hours on cardboard. And up to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic.

As for money, yes, we do know that it is possible for traces of the coronavirus to live on cash. But we don’t know for how long as the researchers didn’t include bills and coins in their tests.

Having said that, please don’t panic. Health officials say that the risk of passing the virus via cash is considered low. And the same goes for food carryout and package deliveries.

Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play it safe. The main thing you need to do after handling money, credit cards, carryout bags, or any type of packages handled by other people is to wash your hands thoroughly. Because that kills viruses.

Our next question comes from Christopher in Troy. He is asking, “Does having the cold or flu boost your immune system to protect against the coronavirus?”

When you’re infected with a virus or bacteria, your body will develop immunity to that agent. But that does not necessarily increase or change your protection against another virus like the coronavirus.

This is why we have to be vigilant about taking the right steps to keep our immune system in tip-top shape. Like eating right, getting enough sleep, reducing stress and exercising.

Last question is from Danielle, she says “My mother is flying in from Austin Texas. I just had a newborn baby. (My mother) works in dentistry so she does have gloves and masks. Should she be worried about flying?”

Well first of all, congrats to Danielle on her new baby. As a parent of a four-month-old, I get how exciting this is for families. And I can understand how a grandmother would want to fly in for a visit.

But the bottom line is, the virus is continuing to spread here in the US. And we are all supposed to be practicing social distancing. And I think that would be very hard to do on a plane.

In my opinion, it would not be worth the risk to fly in and potentially bring the virus to a house with a newborn and a mother who should be resting and healing. And wearing a mask is unlikely to protect her unless she has an N95 respirator, which is still only 95% protective against airborne particles.

Now, one more thing I’d like to address is how young people are ignoring the warnings of health officials. If you’re young, let me tell you that you are not immune.

Almost 40% of younger people who get the coronavirus end up hospitalized. Now the risk of dying is low, which means spring break will likely be here next year for young people to enjoy. But for a lot of folks, it won’t be possible. Because they won’t have survived if we don’t work together as a society.

That is the only way we are going to beat this.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.