Is that doorknob safe to touch? Can I hug my grandparents? Can I have friends over? My school is closed. When will it reopen?
As the coronavirus outbreak grows, so do our lists of questions.
What questions do you have — big and small? Whether it’s about the science of the virus, the health and safety of you and others, or the broader political and economic impact of the pandemic, tell us what you want to know more about.
In “Coronavirus Tips: Frequently Asked Questions and Advice,” The Times writes:
As the coronavirus outbreak has become a pandemic, it has left thousands of people dead, reaching nearly every continent. Daily life for millions more has been upended in ways both big and small.
Offices and factories have shut down. Hospitals are scrambling for equipment and beds. With many people required to stay at home, people working in grocery stores and retail shops are now essential workers.
The crisis has injected uncertainty into what used to be mundane tasks for many people: Is that doorknob safe to touch? Can I go to the gym or do my laundry? Can I hug my grandparents?
And it has made planning for the future nearly impossible, for millions of people who watched their retirement accounts dip with the whims of the stock market, for those worried about their mortgage payments, for children whose schools shut down.
Governments around the world are reacting in varying degrees to the crisis. In the United States, Congress this week agreed to a $2 trillion recovery plan, including direct payments to many American citizens.
We know you have questions about staying healthy, about what to do if you’ve lost your job, what has happened to your retirement investments and which businesses are still open and why.
How worried should I be about getting sick?
Everyone should be concerned about contracting the new coronavirus — if not for yourself, then to protect others who are at risk of becoming severely ill. As with the flu, the virus is more dangerous for people who are older than 60, people who have a weakened immune system, and people with an underlying condition, like diabetes, asthma or another chronic illness.
What does ‘stay at home’ mean?
Authorities in different states have used different phrases while asking people to stay home.
Generally, it means you should limit trips outside except for essential needs. You can still go for walks and exercise, but do it in a way that keeps you several feet away from other people. You can still go to the grocery store, but try to go once a week instead of more frequently. And wash your hands when you come back inside.
How long can the virus live on a doorknob? On cash? On my keyboard?
The coronavirus can live up to 72 hours on some surfaces, like plastic and steel, according to a recent study. It can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
The good news is that coronaviruses are easy to destroy. A disinfectant on a surface will render it harmless, according to Gary Whittaker, a professor of virology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Although the W.H.O. has not said that cash transmits the virus, the organization said in a statement that “it is good hygiene practice to wash your hands after handling money, especially if eating or handling food.”
Can I visit my grandparents?
You shouldn’t. But if Skype, FaceTime or another app is an option, you can make a virtual visit. And there’s always the old-fashioned telephone call, too.
The virus is especially bad for older people like your grandma and grandpa, which means it’s even more important for them to stay away from other people. It can be hard, but this keeps them healthier.
Can I play on the playground?
Probably not. You shouldn’t touch the slides or swings (the virus can live on them, whether they are plastic or metal), and you’d have to stay about six feet away from other kids. Maybe go to a field and try a game of catch with one of your parents.
My school is closed. When will it reopen?
It depends. Schools are closed for different lengths of time, and it’s unclear when it will be safe to go back. Some schools are trying learning-from-home programs, and others are offering free lunches for pick-up. Ask your parents.
Students, read the “Just For Kids” section and at least 5 other questions, then tell us:
What questions do you have about the coronavirus? No question is too big or small, trivial or silly. Let us know what you want answers to.
Which answers provided in the article were most helpful? Surprising? Informative? Explain why.
How will you change your behavior based on the facts and information provided here? Give at least one example.
Where do you get your information on the coronavirus? How do you know it is reliable and accurate? In “That ‘Miracle Cure’ You Saw on Facebook? It Won’t Stop the Coronavirus,” Jacey Fortin writes:
There is no known cure for the new coronavirus.
Scientists are scrambling to find treatments and vaccines for the virus, which causes the illness Covid-19, and health care professionals are working to stop the spread of misinformation.
On social media, memes have become efficient vectors of bad advice, often with urgent instructions or dystopian graphics. One, misstating the benefits of gargling salty water, shows the virus as a cluster of green burrs infecting the throat of a glowing blue man.
One series of posts with bad advice — including claims that sunshine could kill the virus and that ice cream should be avoided — tacked on the name UNICEF.
Have you seen claims of cures and treatments on social media? Have you or people you know ever believed them to be true? How do you think we can stop the spread of misinformation?