‘Coronavirus: Your Questions Answered': 9 questions answered by health experts, local leaders

ORLANDO, Fla. — Channel 9 held a special presentation called “Coronavirus: Your Questions Answered" on Thursday night. The special featured several health experts and local leaders who answered viewers questions amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are nine questions answered during the special:

1. How does one know when to get tested?

“Right now, CentraCare and all of our providers at AdventHealth are following CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) standards for testing, and that would be people who have risks," said Dr. Timothy Hendrix, medical director at AdventHealth CentraCare. “So, if you’ve recently traveled to one of the affected countries, the five countries plus China, that are listed as a high alert right now, or if you’ve come into contact with somebody that has COVID-19, that’s been confirmed. That doesn’t leave a lot. That’s a really small group of people. The odds of you actually needing testing is exceedingly low right now. If you meet those (criterion), contact the Health Department and they will give us guidance on testing moving forward.”

Read: How many people in the US have coronavirus?

2. Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be spread through food?

“The primary route by which one gets exposed and infected with this virus is through the respiratory tract. Through inhaling droplets from someone who has been too close to you in terms of sneezing and coughing, and who might be infectious, contagious. It is not acquired through food," said Dr. Asim Jani, an infectious disease expert with Orlando Health.

3. I heard that COVID-19 can stay on money for nine days. Is that true? Should I not use cash?

“There is not enough information about how long the virus can stay on surfaces, how long it can survive, but it’s exceedingly unlikely that it’s going to survive on your money that long. But it just reminds us that if it can survive on a surface the best thing to do is regular hand-washing. Go ahead and use your cash, use your credit cards, but be wise and frequent hand-washing can prevent that,” Jani said.

Read: Coronavirus checklist: 100-plus disinfectants that may kill coronavirus on surfaces

4. How at risk are pregnant women and newborn children?

“There is currently a lot of information we have to obtain from patients who might have been exposed and infected with coronavirus, but we know right now that there’s no extra risk for pregnant women through their gestation period to get coronavirus. There’s also no real evidence that is this transmitted through breast milk. It requires close contact and that’s the main thing that people should be aware of," Jani said.

5. Parents know if there kid has the sniffles, if they are sick. Are you having a problem with parents sending sick children to school, and what is your word for them?

“I think as parents, so many of us are just accustomed to feeling like perfect attendance is what we need for our kids, and send them to school and tough it out. That’s not the right attitude to have in this environment, and we have to adapt to the environment. So we really need our parents (to understand that) if the kids are sick keep them home, even if you’re certain it’s not the coronavirus but they’re under the weather, they have a runny nose, they have a cough. Keep them home, if you can possibly keep them home," said Teresa Jacobs, school board chair with Orange County Public Schools.

Read: Coronavirus: Talking to kids about the outbreak

6. What is the timeline for developing a coronavirus vaccine?

“Most people think it would be at least 12 to 18 months. There are some more favorable estimates that it might be later this year but I’m sure that we will have one, but it will take some time," Jani said.

7. Is it safe to travel?

“It’s safe to travel. Passengers need to take precautions that they would usually take. You have to access your own health," said Phil Brown, CEO of Orlando International Airport.

Read: Coronavirus: What is 'community spread’ and what do we do about it?

8. What precautions should people who use ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft use?

“I think the situation is very similar to traveling in an airplane. The risk is very low right now in Central Florida. As long as we take the precautions we’ve been mentioning of washing your hands, using hand sanitize, we should be safe. So there shouldn’t be any problem using shared rides," said Dr. Yolanda Martinez.

9. Do people really need face masks?

“I say no. They’re really going to give you a false sense of security, and I remind people that we train our staff at the hospital and at CentraCare on how to use these masks appropriately on simple things like washing your hands before you take the mask off, they’ve touched a surface and contaminated their face. So there’s a lot of complexity in that questions, but our biggest concern is people buying up the masks are taking them away our ability to stock them for our first-line staff that are taking care of patients, so that’s a bigger issue," Hendrix said.

Read: Coronavirus: Beware of scams as illness spreads

You can watch the special here.

Katlyn Brieskorn,

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.