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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)

Confirmed Cases: 270294

Reported Deaths: 8624
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1369935147
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Lake16040483
Will13130369
Kane12372325
St. Clair6144180
Madison5154130
Winnebago5044149
McHenry4322117
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Rock Island268870
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Unassigned2144232
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Jackson118624
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Boone99923
Adams92210
Randolph89311
Effingham7871
Whiteside66219
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Morgan60421
Monroe60315
Henry5995
Ogle5956
Knox5523
Bureau54210
Jefferson53937
Vermilion5344
Union48624
Marion4640
Franklin4621
Macoupin4616
Stephenson4496
McDonough43115
Logan4111
Woodford3805
Christian37410
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Shelby3384
Perry32614
Lee3171
Crawford3051
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Livingston2825
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Carroll2004
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Cumberland1864
Jasper1859
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Washington1721
White1540
Pulaski1521
Clark1432
Johnson1390
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Clay1350
Fulton1310
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Piatt1260
Mercer1205
Mason1161
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Edgar1083
Pike1041
De Witt881
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Massac872
Marshall840
Gallatin682
Scott660
Alexander641
Henderson620
Hamilton580
Edwards570
Stark482
Schuyler410
Putnam380
Brown350
Calhoun350
Hardin310
Pope251
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 108646

Reported Deaths: 3478
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20341757
Lake10013312
Elkhart6198106
St. Joseph586796
Allen5785198
Hamilton4600109
Vanderburgh318126
Hendricks2607120
Monroe224336
Johnson2241122
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Vigo169621
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Howard125163
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Bartholomew113257
Warrick104134
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Hancock89242
Noble86432
Grant85132
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Montgomery49421
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Knox4659
Decatur44739
Gibson4344
DeKalb42511
Miami4202
Greene40935
Fayette40413
Jasper3732
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Sullivan32612
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Owen1621
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Fountain1152
Pulaski1121
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Brown933
Parke902
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Union760
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Switzerland660
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