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12 Questions About Coronavirus Everyone Gets Wrong

The more you know, the better you'll feel.

No matter how many headlines you've read, you still might be confused about certain things regarding the coronavirus. Can you get it twice, or are you immune after the first time? If you're young, is the disease always mild? And does the hold-your-breath-test actually work? We asked doctors around the country to answer 12 questions about coronavirus that everyone gets wrong. 


Will a face mask protect me?

Young woman shopping in grocery store for food while wearing mask and preventing spread of coronavirus virus germs by wearing face mask.

"No, a regular over the counter or surgical mask will not protect you against coronavirus, because they do not seal around your nose and face and you still breathe air around it," says Dr. Luiza Petre, a board-certified cardiologist. "N95 masks are only for health care providers and they need to be fitted." If you are sick, wearing one is a good idea, to protect those around you from getting the virus.


Can I use home remedies to protect myself?

turmeric tea

"No, nothing can prevent you from catching the virus but good hand washing and social isolation practices," says Dr. Petre. "However, a lot of homemade remedies can help you boost your immune system. And some of them are spices like turmeric, garlic, onion or foods rich in zinc."


Will drinking water flush the coronavirus from my system?

with closed eyes drinking clean mineral water close up, young woman holding glass

NOPE. This is a myth. "Hydration is important to our health and body but it has nothing to do with virus clearance," says Dr. Petre. "All viruses replicate inside the cells, they attach to DNA, therefore fluids have nothing to do with curbing down infections."


Since I am young and healthy, am I at low risk for the virus?

Friends Eating Out In Sports Bar With Screens In Background

NOT EXACTLY. "While it is true that the death rate is much higher amongst the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, there is also an increasing number of medical reports about young people who require hospitalization and oxygen-support," says Dr. Dimitar Marinov. According to a report from the CDC, around 40% of the patients that require hospitalization were between 20 and 54 years old. 


Do hand dryers kill the virus?

Female dries wet hand in modern vertical hand dryer in public restroom

NO! Dr. Marinov points out the misconception that, "hand dryers can kill the COVID-19 on your hands, due to the heat and dehydration. That is wrong. They may even increase the risk of spread of COVID-19 if used on hands that have not been washed or disinfected properly."


Will the coronavirus go away or recede in warmer weather?

young african american woman smiling and looking up

WE DON'T KNOW YET. "While it is true that cases of the cold and flu tend to wane during the warmer season, we don't know yet whether COVID-19 will react similarly. It does appear to be spreading in warmer climates now which is concerning," says Dr. Nate Favini. "And, even if COVID-19 does slow during warmer months, there is a chance that it will return."


If I'm sick, will my pet also get infected?

man snuggling and hugging his dog, close friendship loving bond between owner and pet husky

NOT SURE. "No, so far there is no evidence that pets can get infected. There was one case reported where the test from a dog was positive, but it was believed to be cross-contamination from the sick owner," says Dr. Petre.


Will garlic prevent me from getting infected?

garlic in bowl unpeeled

NOT REALLY. "Garlic is known as an elixir of health, natural immune booster and famous for its natural anti-inflammatory properties," says Dr. Petre. "While it can't prevent one from catching an infection, it can definitely help fighting it. As the saying goes, one garlic a day keeps vampires away."


Am I immune to the virus after I get it once?


DON'T BE SO SURE. "The body builds a memory immune response—how long that lasts, we do not know yet. Some immune memories can be lifelong like after a polio vaccine or short-lasting like a flu vaccine," says Dr. Petre. "Some people in China tested positive after they recovered from a first episode, but that was thought to be due to virus antigen still being detected in the cells and not related to viable viral particles."


Am I cured after 14 days of quarantine?


NOT NECESSARILY. "Incubation and illness may exceed 14 days, so it may be better at 24-30 days to protect oneself in self-quarantine," says Dr. Bill Code, a specialist on virology and immune function.


Is the "holding-your-breath test" a good indicator of the coronavirus?

woman doing asthma crisis at home in the living room

NOPE. "No, there is a wide spectrum of severity in symptoms that people with coronavirus may experience," says Dr. Nate Favini, "Some people with coronavirus are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and would easily be able to hold their breath for 10 seconds."


Is the coronavirus the same as the flu?

senior man with winter seasonal illness fever cold problems

NO—IT'S WORSE! "This virus is substantially more contagious than the seasonal flu (perhaps up to twice as contagious), causes more severe cases that require hospitalization and has a higher fatality rate than the flu (in the range of 20 times more deadly than seasonal flu)," says Dr. Favini. That's why it's doubly important to follow these 50 Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Emilia Paluszek
Emilia specializes in human biology and psychology at the University at Albany. Read more