Coronavirus Call-in: Experts field questions from you

Mar 30, 2020, 6:19 PM
Coronavirus call-in...
Norweigan data company Unacast has ranked every county and state in the US on how good they're doing keeping their social distance. And Utah came in pretty average.

SALT LAKE CITY — How long does coronavirus live on surfaces? Is my elderly dad who works at Walmart at risk? These are some of the questions asked on Monday’s coronavirus call-in.

Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease specialist with Intermountain Healthcare, and Heather Barnum with the Utah Coronavirus Task Force join host Jeff Caplan to answer medical and state policy questions about coronavirus or COVID-19.

Caplan said the coronavirus now hit home for him. His daughter has to be tested because she has a 99 degree temperature, shortness of breath and fatigue.

“They say she’ll get her results in two or three days on the quicker side, if she’s positive now. If she tests positive, do her three kids, including the infant, need to be tested?” Caplan asked.

I’m sorry that it’s now hitting close to home for your family,” said Webb. “Family members are not an inevitable transmission risk. So if family members of someone who’s a known positive case are asymptomatic, they don’t necessarily need to be tested but can be kept isolated from the family member who is.”

How long Coronavirus live on surfaces? Also, how long does it live in the air after someone has coughed?

“We understand that the more porous the surface and the less moisture, the less time the virus is able to live,” Webb said. “There was a study that showed that on cardboard the viruses were able to live for less than 72 hours, and on fabric and other porous materials, it’s not able to live for more than a day at most and in most cases hours.”

Webb said the coronavirus is heavy so it can’t remain suspended in the air for long distances up to six feet, which is the recommended social distance between two people.

If a person gets COVID-19, how long does it take before we’re not spreading it?

The infective period is more related to the period of time around which you are still having fevers and still having an active cough. That shorter period of time, which is somewhere between five and 15 days, is the period in which the virus is contagious,” Webb said. 

Why are day care centers still open when other businesses have closed?

I believe that the reason is because daycare’s are also adapting, they’re innovating. They’re implementing some social distancing practices there,” Barnum, of the state task force, said. “They’re trying to do what they can so that people can continue to work.”

Can a dog get COVID-19?

“Right now, it is unclear whether dogs can be infected with the coronavirus. We don’t think that that is likely,” said Webb.

Experts did mention a dog in China that tested positive for virus, however, that is the only known instance.

 How long does it take to get results after someone is tested?

“If you do have a test done, don’t expect a result back for 3 to 4 or 5 days,” said Webb. “Those are cautious estimates. But please know that our laboratory personnel are doing a heroic effort trying to get these tests processed as quickly as possible.”

My mother and grandmother don’t understand the severity of this pandemic. How do I convince them that social distancing is important?

“The risk of severe disease with COVID-19 increases with age,” Webb said, “so please do tell your family members that this is important, that they are at risk and that we we strongly encourage them to take social distancing and isolation seriously.”

My employer is forcing us to go to work, and he is not enforcing social distancing at the workplace. Do employees have any recourse against this?

“As of right now, we don’t have a statewide order that would be like law, enforceable or penalized,” said Barnum. “However, we are strongly directing businesses to practice the social distancing, to do things like not requiring employees to come into work sick and not requiring them to have a doctor’s note, either. I would recommend that you just have a strong conversation with your employer,” she said.

 My elderly dad works at Walmart, is he at risk?

“People who are of advanced age are certainly at higher risk,” Webb said. “They really do need to take that into account when thinking about personal choices about being in public, and certainly working in a public space like Walmart does pose a higher risk for getting the disease,” he said.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line 18004567707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


Join KSL either on the radio or on the podcast weekdays to hear your Coronavirus questions answered by the experts. Each day, members of the Utah COVID-19 task force and experts in the health field will be available to speak to your comments and concerns. Leave a voicemail at 801-237-2482 to ask us your virus questions during the pandemic. 

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Coronavirus Call-in: Experts field questions from you