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Andre of Washington, D.C., rides the escalator up at the Metro subway Congress Heights train station in Washington, Friday, March, 13, 2020. (Associated Press) Andre of Washington, D.C., rides the escalator up at the Metro subway Congress Heights train station in Washington, Friday, March, 13, 2020. (Associated Press)

Andre of Washington, D.C., rides the escalator up at the Metro subway Congress Heights train station in Washington, Friday, March, 13, 2020. (Associated Press)

Josie Hollingsworth
By Josie Hollingsworth March 13, 2020
Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman March 13, 2020
By Emily Venezky March 13, 2020

If Your Time is short

  • For many questions on the expected length of the pandemic, it is simply too early to know. 

  • Long-lasting immunity to COVID-19 is not likely because similar respiratory infections will only leave the body with short-lived immunity. 

  • Experts think your pets are going to be okay!

You asked, we answered. Due to the widespread nature of the new coronavirus, readers are being bombarded with mixed messages.

Good information about seasonality, immunity and transmission is hard to come by, and a lot is not known about many of the epidemiological facts of COVID-19. So we tapped into our network of medical experts and to provide you with the most up-to-date, credible information on coronavirus.

RELATED: 7 ways to avoid misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic

Is the coronavirus seasonal? Will it go away when it gets warm?

While the seasonal flu tends to spike in winter and dwindle in spring, experts are skeptical this will happen with the novel coronavirus. 

Basically, it’s too early to know. The new coronavirus only appeared in China at the end of 2019, and the World Health Organization said on March 5 that there’s not enough known about what the virus will do over the course of a season. As of now, health officials say there’s no reason to believe that the virus would behave differently in different temperatures. 

Some have pointed to the summer ebb of the 2002-03 SARS epidemic as evidence COVID-19 will do the same. But according to Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, the weather may have had little to do with it. "SARS didn’t die of natural causes," he wrote in a recent report. "It was killed by extremely intense public health interventions in mainland Chinese cities, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Canada and elsewhere."

Right now, health experts say that COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather. They recommend people adopt protective measures, regardless of climate.

If you get it, do you become immune?  

It’s not clear if COVID-19 will leave those who recover from the disease immune to it in the future. On the positive side, the CDC says that patients who recovered from MERS-CoV, a similar 2012 disease, rarely were re-infected. 

But Dr. Melissa Brown, a professor of microbiology/immunology at Northwestern, said that long-lasting immunity is not likely because similar respiratory infections will only leave the body with short-lived immunity. She explained that recovering from these diseases produces antibodies, which block the virus, for six months and T-cells, which attack infected cells, for six years.

Can COVID-19 spread to pets? Can pets spread it?

Highly unlikely. There is no evidence to support that pets such as cats and dogs can get COVID-19 from humans, or that animals can transmit the virus, according to animal scientists and the World Health Organization. 

In February, the pet dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus, but the dog had a small number of virus particles present —  what scientists call a "weak positive." The dog exhibited no signs of illness.

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine explains that the dog was in close contact with an infected human, who was likely shedding large quantities of the virus. "This led to the virus being in the dog’s nose," the organization said. "There is no indication that the dog is sick or showing any symptoms."

The World Organisation for Animal Health also says there’s no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of the disease but stated that further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected.

Can you hold your breath to test it?

"This has been circulating widely, but sadly is not true," Richard Watanabe, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, told PolitiFact in an email. "The only way to test for COVID-19 right now is via laboratory testing."

Read this fact-check for more information.

Can the virus still be transmitted by someone after they have recovered? If so how many days after is someone still carrying the virus?

Since the virus is so new, there are still a lot of unknowns. 

What we do know is that people are thought to be most contagious early on in their infection, or when they are most symptomatic.

Those who are mildly sick are likely not infectious by about 10 days after they start experiencing symptoms, according to a new study from Germany on the spread of the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued these interim guidelines for health professionals on when it’s okay to discontinue in-home and hospitalized isolation for people with the virus. 

We've heard that children are not being sickened by coronavirus, but are they carriers?

Children are still getting sick with COVID-19 and have the same symptoms; they are just having much milder cases

A recent review found that children are just as likely as adults to contract COVID-19 despite having milder cases that lead to under-reporting of children’s cases. Children also may not be a main source of the disease spreading because the majority of infected children "reported thus far have a documented household contact, often showing symptoms before them." 

No matter what, you should still make sure children aren’t displaying symptoms of the COVID-19 before they interact with more vulnerable groups, like the elderly or people with chronic diseases.

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Our Sources

WHO press conference, COVID-19, March 5, 2020

Harvard School of Public Health, Seasonality of SARS-CoV-2: Will COVID-19 go away on its own in warmer weather?, Accessed March, 13, 2020

World Health Organization, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters, Accessed March 13, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthcare Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, Feb. 21, 2020

World Health Organization, Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19), March 9, 2020

Science, Quarantine the cat? Disinfect the dog? The latest advice about the coronavirus and your pets, March 12, 2020

The World Organisation for Animal Health, Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Accessed March 13, 2020

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, CORONAVIRUS AND PETS: FAQS FOR OWNERS, March 5, 2020

PolitiFact, Says you can monitor yourself for COVID-19 with a breath test, March 13, 2020

Medrxiv.org, Clinical presentation and virological assessment of hospitalized cases of coronavirus disease 2019 in a travel-associated transmission cluster, March 5, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Interim Guidance for Discontinuation of In-Home Isolation for Patients with COVID-19, Feb. 16, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) and Children, March 12, 2020

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, Coronavirus Infections in Children Including COVID-19, March 12, 2020

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More by Josie Hollingsworth

We answered your questions on coronavirus seasonality, immunity and transmission