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COVID-19: Your questions, answered by the KSL factchecking team

WUHAN, CHINA - JANUARY 22: (CHINA OUT) A woman wears a mask while riding an electric bicycle on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. A new infectious coronavirus known as "2019-nCoV" was discovered in Wuhan as the number of cases rose to over 400 in mainland China. Health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The death toll has reached 17 people as the Wuhan government issued regulations today that residents must wear masks in public places. Cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. (Photo by Getty Images)

KSL NewsRadio understands that a lot of information about COVID-19, or coronavirus, is coming at you very quickly and that you may have questions.

So, we’ve checked the facts and we’ve gathered the following information.  Some of the questions come right from you, asked us on our social media platforms. We are especially thankful that you trust us enough to ask these important questions. If we are missing something, or you would like to ask us a question, please email radionews@ksl.com.

COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How come people are stocking up and taking everything before the less fortunate can?

We can’t be sure in all instances, but this could be a reflection of ‘panic buying,’ defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a situation in which people suddenly buy as much food, fuel, etc., as they can because they are worried about something bad that may happen.”

This could also be in response to widely-reported supply shortages in countries like China.

Why is everyone panicking over something that is just like the flu?

You’ve probably heard this virus referred to as novel coronavirus, and the ‘novel’ part is what’s driving panic in some people. It is a new strain of coronavirus (similar to SARS and MERS). According to an infectious disease specialist interviewed by Axios, pandemic viruses cause more anxiety because there’s no warning, or things like vaccines and diagnostic testing, beforehand.

What is a safe distance to keep when around other people?

Anywhere from three to six feet, if you or that other person is coughing.

Why are there limited quantities of COVID-19 test kits?

The CDC admits there was a problem with some of their original COVID-19 test kits, sent to laboratories in the first week of February. One of the chemicals used to conduct the test needed to be remanufactured.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) “as of the evening of March 12, 81 state and local public health laboratories in 50 states and the District of Columbia have successfully verified COVID-19 diagnostic tests and are offering testing.”

In other words, more people have made more tests, which should help.

Is it really as bad as it is being portrayed?

There isn’t an objective answer to this question. Based on the numbers provided by the CDC, COVID-19 coronavirus is at least 10 times more deadly than the flu.

How many confirmed cases are actually in Utah?

As of March 14, 2020, there are seven confirmed cases; three in Salt Lake County, two in Summit County, one in Davis County, and one in Weber County. One of the Summit County cases is community-acquired.

How long do symptoms last?

How sick a person might become if they contract COVID-19 is dependent upon their age, and their health. The CDC tell us that people aged 65 and over are more at risk.

If you contract COVID-19, the symptoms of fever, tiredness, and dry cough will most likely be mild.  In this instance, the disease is much like the common cold or flu.

Is there any information about how it affects pregnant women or unborn children?

The CDC says they do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of becoming sick from COVID-19. They agree that pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.

With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness.

They stress that it remains important for pregnant women to do everything they can to protect themselves from this illness. So wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, and consider social distancing if people in your work/school/church circles become sick.

When will grocery stores be able to restock food?

There are currently no shortages of food in the United States, and there have been no disruptions to supply distribution. However, due to panic buying, some stores have sold out of supplies like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

I have travel plans, can I get tested to show I don’t have COVID-19 before I leave?

The CDC says that only people who have the symptoms, or who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, should be tested.

Are airlines canceling domestic flights?

Many U.S. airlines are cutting back on the number of flights they offer domestically to reduce their overhead costs and the money they are losing because of restricted international travel.

Some have announced that they will waive change fees for domestic travel if the ticket was purchased before a certain date.

You should check with your airline to learn more about your domestic flight options.

Is this a hoax?

No.

Could you please share a chart comparing symptoms to cold and flu and coronavirus?

According to Johns Hopkins University, the similarities between influenza and COVID 19 are symptoms, treatment, *possibly transmission (this is still being determined), and prevention.

The differences boil down to what causes the illnesses. COVID-19 is caused by one virus, influenza can be caused by several types and strains of influenza virus. As a result, influenza can sometimes be treated by anti-viral medications while no such medication yet exists for COVID-19. Further, no vaccine is yet available for COVID-19, and finally, at publication date, there were far fewer people infected with or dying from COVID-19 this year than has been the case with the influenza virus in years past.,

Why are elementary schools not closed?

On Friday, March 13, 2020, Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced a “soft closure” of all public schools in Utah. This is temporary.

Is there a cure?

No, but we’ll eventually have a vaccine.

Do you build up antibodies so you only get it once?

A German study found that people who are infected with COVID-19 created anti-bodies quickly, typically within six to 12 days. The rapid rise of antibodies may explain why about 80% of people infected with the virus do not develop severe disease.

Will essential oils cure my coronavirus?

No.

As of March 6, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued seven warning letters to companies marketing products to prevent or cure COVID-19 infections, offering false claims for prevention or cure. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that they will take action against these companies if necessary.

Will toilet paper cure the coronavirus?

No.

Why toilet paper?

This is a question for the ages! This trend could be another indication of ‘panic buying,’ where people buy a lot of a certain product because they are worried that something bad is going to happen. This could also be in response to widely-reported supply shortages in countries like China.