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Your Questions On Coronavirus, Answered

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots.

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In collaboration with the team at America Amplified - a public media initiative focused on listening to communities first - KOSU is answering your questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19). KOSU sent out a text-in conversation on March 12 asking for your questions - let us know what information you need by texting ‘KOSU’ to our new texting number 1-844-777-7719.

Updated June 16, 2020 at 11:05 p.m. This post will be updated as we answer questions from our listeners. We have also included questions and answers from the America Amplified team. 


How many cases of COVID-19 is Oklahoma testing per day?


Governor Kevin Stitt announced April 1, that anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19 should be tested for the disease. The state of Oklahoma now has more than 13,000 test kits and an Oklahoma State University lab can now run more than 2,000 tests per day. 

Do you become immune to the coronavirus after you have it? (Updated 3/19/20)


There is some evidence that a person who recovers from the illness can contract it again. Reinfections have been reported in China, Japan and South Korea, but it is rare. Scientists say testing errors — contaminated samples, human error and false negatives— are more likely than a patient recovering from the disease and later contracting it again.

From WITF in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.



Do people who recover from coronavirus have any long-lasting symptoms or side effects?


It all depends on the severity of the case. Dr. Abhijit Duggal, a critical care specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, told USA Todaythat about 80% of COVID-19 patients recover with no complications. As for that remaining 20%, it may be too early to tell.


Early tests by doctors in Hong Kong found that some recovered patients had a 20% to 30% drop in lung capacity and got winded by walking, according to the South China Morning Post. But that figure comes from a very, very small study group: 12 patients, of whom two or three had difficulty breathing afterward. 

Dr Owen Tsang Tak-yin of Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung, who reported the observations, said those patients would undergo tests and exercise therapy to determine whether lung capacity could be improved.


He also said the long-term effects on recovered patients, such as whether they would develop pulmonary fibrosis, a condition where lung tissue hardened and the organ could not function properly, had yet to be determined, according to the Post.


In severe coronavirus cases, patients can develop acute respiratory distress syndrome. Coronavirus targets the lungs, and that syndrome can develop if the lungs have suffered significant damage. Dr. Nuala Meyer, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, told USA Today that survivors “tend to lose peripheral muscle mass and muscle function” due to oxygen deprivation. 

Doctors are continuing to monitor and study the disease’s effects on the body. 


From Side Effects Public Media


Is purchasing take-out food safe?


Yes. [Try] to support some of those local businesses. Using food delivery services, carry out options, that's fine. We have had some questions about, you know, can I go into a place and have a drink while I wait for my food? No, the restaurant should not be serving any food to be eaten or any drinks to be consumed while you're at the establishment. The goal is to get in and get out as quick as possible. Touch as few items as possible. So you're not contaminating anything. You're not picking up any contamination.

Source: Shandy Dearth, an epidemiologist with IU Fairbanks School of Public Health.

From Side Effects Public Media.


What is the treatment plan?


We have no treatment...no cure, no antiviral, no antibiotic.  There is nothing that will get rid of COVID-19 except your own immune system.  So, if you’re young and healthy, your body will fight it, you’ll get the symptoms and you will recover just like a regular cold.  If you’re 80-years-old and have lung disease, you won’t be able to fight it.  Your system can’t fight it.  


Source: Ram Yeleti, Chief Physician Executive with Community Health Network in Indianapolis. From Side Effects Public Media.




What is a novel coronavirus?


A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The Center for Disease Control said the virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as other coronaviruses which are common and can cause mild illness, like the common cold. Therefore, patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently. 

Why is the disease called COVID-19?

The World Health Organization announced the official name for the disease on February 11, 2020. COVID-19 is an abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease was formerly referred to as 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCov. The disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan China. 

Who is at risk?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes — are at higher risk for serious illness. If you have lung problems and are over age 60, you should be cautious of going anywhere for any reason at all, according to Ram Yeleti, Chief Physician Executive with Community Health Network in Indianapolis.

Kids seem less vulnerable, so far. The CDC recommends everyone take steps to prevent the spread of the virus: frequent hand washing and avoiding close contact.


Even if you aren’t in a high-risk group, taking these steps will help protect people who are. 

From Side Effects Public Media.

How does COVID-19 spread?


Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, says the CDC. So, people coughing and sneezing into the air, or into their hands and then touching surfaces, can spread the virus — based on the information the CDC and World Health Organization have at the moment. 

The WHO says the risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms, so it’s completely possible to contract the virus from someone with a mild cough and who isn’t feeling ill. 

On March 13, NPR reported that a new study found the virus can live up to 72 hours on steel, plastic and cardboard, in ideal lab conditions.

However, researchers aren't sure how long droplets of the new coronavirus remain infectious on phones, but similar coronaviruses can survive on surfaces from a few hours up to a few days, depending on the environment, says the WHO.


But public health officials say: keep your distance from people and don’t kiss. 

From Side Effects Public Media.

“When should someone with symptoms get tested?” -Lisa W. of Stillwater. 

The CDC recommends calling your health care provider if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms - like coughing or difficulty breathing - which may appear 2-14 days after exposure. That assessment is based on what has been seen in the incubation period of MERS-CoV, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. 

The emergency warning signs for COVID-19 include (but are not limited to) difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. The CDC recommends seeking medical attention immediately if you develop those symptoms. 

It is also important to keep in mind the U.S. is still in flu season - although seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round. The seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and November and continues as late as May. Also, flu season most commonly peaks between December and February. 


How do I prepare for COVID-19?

Similar to how you should prepare for the flu: stock up on food and water, as well as any daily medications for three weeks. This isn’t because health officials think there’s going to be a run on grocery stores, but instead, because if you have COVID-19, you should avoid going into crowds — a concept called “social distancing.”

Have your go-to sick food: chicken or vegetable broth, and hydrating drinks like Pedialyte and Gatorade. That's because if you do get sick, you want to be ready to ride it out at home if need be. So far, 80% of COVID-19 cases have been mild. 

From Side Effects Public Media

Also, practice basic hygiene:

  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

  • Clean frequently-touched surfaces often, such as light switches, cellphones and countertops.

  • If you are sick, stay home.

From WITF in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Where is the coronavirus in the U.S.?

The CDC is updating the whereabouts of the coronavirus regularly. As of June 15, 2020 there have been 2,085,769total cases in the U.S. with 115,644 total deaths.

NPR also has a map that is updated daily. 

As schools are closing across the country, how can we communicate with our children to help them fully understand coronavirus and COVID-19? (Updated 3/14/20)


Editor’s note: NPR has created a comic that helps kids, and the rest of us, understand what’s going on. 


Let them know it's actually very similar to the cold or the flu … And they will actually do just fine from it. So they'll have similar symptoms to a typical cold or typical flu, they'll have runny nose, cough, sore throat, fevers, just might feel sluggish for a few days and they'll get over it. The biggest thing is that when they get in touch with their grandparents, if their grandparents catch it from them, we have no treatment.  


Source: Ram Yeleti, Chief Physician Executive with Community Health Network in Indianapolis. From Side Effects Public Media.


You can find more Q&As by America Amplified here.




This story was produced in partnership with America Amplified. America Amplified is a CPB-funded initiative to use community engagement to inform local journalism.

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Kateleigh Mills was the Special Projects reporter for KOSU from 2019 to 2024.
Chelsea Ferguson was KOSU's membership specialist from March 2022 to October 2023.
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