As the United States begins to reopen restaurants and other businesses, Yahoo News Medical Contributor Dr. Kavita Patel goes through do’s and don’ts of getting back to some sort of “normal” during the coronavirus pandemic, such as how often to wash a fabric mask and if it’s a good idea to give hugs through a plastic barrier.
KAVITA PATEL: As our country is considering how best we can come out of our homes, a pretty common question is, what is the effect of water on COVID? So number one, there haven't been any studies to show that people have contracted or been infected with the virus through swimming pools or oceans. And in swimming pools, it might be because people are disinfecting the pools. Certainly with the weather, people have not been using swimming pools. With respect to the ocean, it is not clear if just being in saltwater can necessarily kill the virus.
So if you're one of those people eager to get outdoors, do it in a way where you can just stay safe and socially distant. And perhaps try to reserve swimming in the ocean for a future visit. Another important question that you might be asking is the notion of forming a virtual household or joining with another household that might also have been staying at home and does not have any history of contact with anyone that has had the virus.
I would say for that first meeting just to be on the safe side, think about how to set up joining dinner with some safe social distancing. I would encourage kind of wearing a nonmedical mask when talking. And for those nonmedical masks, generally speaking, you should try to wash them everyday. Theoretically, almost after every use, but I realize that that's not practical for everyone. If you can't, it's certainly just better to wear one rather than leave it at home, because you're worried about it not being clean enough.
A number of us are increasingly trying to be entrepreneurial or do what we can to stay safe, but try to encourage some sort of contact. We all need it, so I've seen a number of people using very creative methods, including a clear shower curtain, saran wrap, plastic bags. Unfortunately, I'm concerned as a doctor about some of these mechanisms that could even harm yourself, so I would never encourage anybody to put saran wrap around their face in any way. And I would not necessarily look to these other techniques, until we know a little bit more about what this virus does and doesn't do.
So as the country is reopening, there are many different strategies for trying to help Americans feel safe when they go into businesses, et cetera. One of them is temperature checks, and this is usually some sort of infrared type of thermometer that checks for a presence of a fever. A fever, we know, is one of the dominant symptoms of coronavirus, but it is not the only one. And certainly, people who have coronavirus in their bodies might not ever have a fever, which brings up the limitations of this thermal type of testing. But it will be something that most Americans can get used to, especially as we enter businesses or places with a lot of people.