Your top 6 coronavirus questions from the weekend -- answered

ER doctor Jeremy Faust says 'I want to reassure the well and really help focus in on who is sick,' and explains why Coronavirus fatality statistics are misleading.

Posted: Mar 9, 2020 10:28 AM
Updated: Mar 10, 2020 11:31 AM


Just a few months ago, this virus didn't exist in humans. By Monday morning, it has killed more than 3,800 people and infected more than 108,000 others worldwide.

Every day, CNN readers ask sharp questions about the mysterious novel coronavirus. And each weekday, we'll select some of the top questions and get you the answers.

Here are some of the questions submitted over the weekend:

Q. Why waste a test kit on a person without symptoms?

Some people with coronavirus have mild or no symptoms. And in some cases, symptoms don't appear until up to 14 days after infection.

During that incubation period, it's possible to get coronavirus from someone with no symptoms. It's also possible you may have coronavirus without feeling sick and are accidentally infecting others.

So anyone who has had close contact with someone known to have coronavirus should ask a health care provider about getting tested, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Anyone who recently traveled to a part of the world where coronavirus is widespread should do the same.

Q. How can someone pass along coronavirus when asymptomatic? If not sneezing or coughing, how can they infect others?

It's easy for asymptomatic people with coronavirus to spread the illness, said Dr. Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA's School of Public Health.

"Certainly, when you speak, sometimes you'll spit a little bit," Rimoin said. "You'll rub your nose. You'll touch your mouth. You'll rub your eyes. And then you'll touch other surfaces, and then you will be spreading virus if you are infected and shedding asymptomatically."

Doctors stress that the best way to prevent getting coronavirus is not by wearing face masks, since they often cause more harm than good.

Instead, people should wash their hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds and stop touching their faces -- which is harder than it sounds.

Q. Can coronavirus go through skin and into the body?

"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," the CDC says.

More often than not, people get coronavirus through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

"These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs," the CDC says.

The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from anyone who may be infected.

Q. If a coronavirus patient does progress to pneumonia, what antibiotics if any have proven to be effective?

No antibiotics are effective against coronavirus because the disease is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection.

"However, if you are hospitalized for the [coronavirus], you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible," the World Health Organization says.

There is no known cure for the coronavirus. Researchers are studying whether the antiviral drug remdesivir might work, but testing of that drug just started.

For now, coronavirus patients get "supportive" treatment, "which means giving fluids, medicine to reduce fever, and, in severe cases, supplemental oxygen," the Harvard Medical School says.

Scientists are working on developing a vaccine. But it will take months before clinical trials start, and more than a year before a vaccine could become available.

Q. If infected with coronavirus, can you survive it and recover?

Absolutely. The vast majority of people with coronavirus survive.

Last week, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimated the death rate is "about 2%."

But the true death rate might be much lower, since some coronavirus survivors might not have been tested and might not have had their cases reported.

Q. After recovering from coronavirus, does the recovered patient have immunity to the virus?

It's too early to know for sure. But other coronaviruses, like ones that cause the common cold, might give us clues.

With "common cold coronaviruses, you don't actually have immunity that lasts for very long, and so we don't know the answer with this specific coronavirus," said Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the New York University School of Medicine.

"If you recover, are you immune? And if you are immune, how long does that last? And that's actually going to be one of the challenges with designing a vaccine is how do you actually cause the immunity to last long enough to protect you."

Have a question about coronavirus? Ask us here.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1415572

Reported Deaths: 25853
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook56308410559
DuPage937531321
Will781251042
Lake692061027
Kane60105816
Winnebago34719524
Madison32433533
St. Clair30073526
McHenry29590299
Peoria23726346
Champaign21601158
Sangamon19672245
McLean18864194
Tazewell17508308
Rock Island15398329
Kankakee14754224
Kendall1349999
LaSalle12968254
Macon11193215
DeKalb10286122
Vermilion10247154
Adams9635128
Williamson8165138
Whiteside7249174
Boone694280
Ogle629884
Grundy605879
Clinton591993
Coles5872101
Knox5735157
Jackson546465
Henry516070
Macoupin498790
Livingston494394
Woodford492683
Stephenson488186
Franklin487879
Effingham483274
Marion4782118
Jefferson4668123
Monroe452394
Randolph432587
Lee424054
Morgan413793
Fulton410959
Logan407366
Christian394875
Bureau386187
Montgomery385274
Iroquois330168
Perry328662
Fayette326856
McDonough305751
Jersey279552
Saline272057
Douglas263736
Union250241
Lawrence245027
Shelby236138
Crawford219026
Bond213624
Cass210727
Carroll204937
Pike201453
Ford194950
Hancock194132
Clark190734
Wayne190153
Warren186750
Jo Daviess183524
Richland181740
White180626
Edgar179842
Washington169625
Moultrie168128
Mason164247
De Witt161429
Piatt156314
Johnson155416
Clay155043
Greene153534
Mercer152434
Wabash148612
Massac143740
Cumberland131119
Menard128412
Jasper116918
Marshall110819
Hamilton90316
Schuyler8147
Brown8116
Pulaski7437
Stark66425
Edwards63612
Calhoun5422
Henderson53414
Gallatin5064
Scott5051
Putnam4943
Alexander48911
Hardin39612
Pope3404
Unassigned662433
Out of IL150

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 768624

Reported Deaths: 13993
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1055891807
Lake569801031
Allen43032699
St. Joseph37344568
Hamilton37335426
Elkhart29783470
Tippecanoe23503230
Vanderburgh23240405
Porter19580327
Johnson18843392
Hendricks18089323
Madison13575347
Clark13552198
Vigo12869256
LaPorte12578225
Monroe12575178
Delaware11155198
Howard10693237
Kosciusko9792124
Hancock8761150
Bartholomew8274157
Warrick8084157
Floyd8043182
Grant7378181
Wayne7239201
Boone7211105
Morgan6924143
Marshall6345117
Dubois6283118
Cass6096112
Dearborn602178
Noble600890
Henry5958111
Jackson517277
Shelby511598
Lawrence4928127
Gibson463696
Montgomery459292
DeKalb456785
Clinton456055
Harrison454077
Huntington417882
Whitley416745
Steuben411260
Miami406073
Jasper401655
Knox388691
Putnam385762
Wabash370384
Adams353856
Ripley351971
Jefferson343487
White340154
Daviess3089100
Wells304081
Greene295185
Decatur292693
Fayette286564
Posey282635
Scott281058
LaGrange277772
Clay274949
Washington254637
Randolph247783
Jennings239749
Spencer238731
Fountain235850
Starke229959
Owen222959
Sullivan221643
Fulton208945
Jay203032
Carroll197722
Orange191756
Perry189939
Vermillion181144
Rush177627
Tipton173347
Franklin172535
Parke155916
Pike142534
Blackford138032
Pulaski123748
Newton123336
Benton109715
Brown106243
Crawford105816
Martin92515
Warren87915
Switzerland8378
Union73610
Ohio58411
Unassigned0429