Ask A Doctor: What Do The Protests Mean For The Spread Of COVID-19?

A UT Health San Antonio physician answers listeners’ questions about their health during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael MarksJune 4, 2020 12:56 pm,

In this week’s installment of Ask a Doctor, UT Health San Antonio physician Fred Campbell answers more of Texas Standard listeners’ most pressing questions about the coronavirus.

Is it safe right now for kids to play with their neighborhood friends?

Exercise and play is crucial for kids, so if they are playing with others during the pandemic it’s best for them to do it outside. But they are still at risk for getting the virus, especially if they aren’t practicing social distancing or wearing masks. And when it comes to whether they play in the yard or a swimming pool, Campbell said it isn’t so much about where they play but how.

“Somebody that goes out and swims laps probably is at low risk. [But] people maybe playing games or in very close quarters … need to be concerned about acquiring the virus, even outside.”

How soon after the start of the 10 to 14-day incubation period can a test detect COVID-19?

The best COVID-19 diagnostic test can usually detect the virus four days after someone has been infected – so, four days into the incubation period.

“Prior to that time, unfortunately, we really don’t have a reliable test.”

Does the annual flu shot or the pneumonia vaccine help protect against COVID-19?

Flu shots need to be repeated annually because flu viruses change every year, so that vaccine wouldn’t make someone immune to the new coronavirus. As for the pneumonia vaccine, it protects against a bacteria, not a virus, so it also wouldn’t protect against COVID-19.

“I don’t see a chance, unfortunately, of cross-immunization.”

Do the protests put people at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, even if they’re outside?

Masks do help, but they only provide some protection against the coronavirus. It can still spread between people, even those who don’t show symptoms, and especially when they’re less than 6 feet apart.

“The larger the protest and the more confined the area is where the protests are being conducted will increase the likelihood of acquisition of the virus.”

Campbell said he expects another spike in positive COVID-19 cases and deaths soon, not only because of the protests, but because people are gathering again as the state reopens.

Web story by Caroline Covington.


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