Last March, a new infectious respiratory disease emerged that irrevocably changed our lives. There is no arguing that COVID-19 has shaped a whole new reality full of uncertainty. The American Lung Association is devoted to providing trusted, up-to-date information to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and support affected individuals. Chief medical officer Dr. Albert Rizzo offered answers to you your most pressing questions about the pandemic over the last week.
Q: Is this the second wave of COVID-19 infections?
A: The second wave is a name given to a resurgence of infection. Some say we are in the second wave and others say we are still in the first wave. Regardless of which name history will ultimately decide best describes this time period, COVID-19 is active and spreading in communities across America and I urge you to take precautions to reduce your risk of exposure. Read our blog to learn more about the waves of the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Q: If someone has recovered from COVID-19, could they catch the coronavirus again?
A: This is a good question. There is a lot of talk in the news about antibody testing, a blood test that checks for proteins (antibodies) specific to this disease that helped fight off the illness. This tells us if you have previously been infected with the novel coronavirus. We do not know if these antibodies provide protection, and for how long, from getting infected again. We will have to wait and see if the antibodies make individuals immune to the virus moving forward.
Q: Is the coronavirus airborne?
A: Yes. The evidence is now clear that COVID-19 can be spread both by droplet and airborne aerosol transmission. Large droplets can be seen, for example when you exhale in cold weather, and they quickly fall out of the air. The smaller droplets that contribute to airborne aerosol transmission are lighter, can remain suspended for hours, and may travel across a room.
This means that indoor, poorly ventilated buildings have the potential to spread disease if individuals from different households gather – even if they are wearing masks and at least six feet apart. You can reduce your risk of airborne transmission by being outdoors and in uncrowded indoor spaces with good ventilation.
Q: Can I use a face shield instead of a cloth face mask?
A: Facemasks are recommended over face shields. Facemasks fit snugly against the face and provide better protection to prevent respiratory droplets from leaving your mouth and nose and potentially infecting another person nearby. You can learn more in our latest blog.
Q: Is it safe to get a flu shot during the pandemic?
A: Absolutely. Not only is it safe, it’s especially recommended this year. A flu vaccine will help protect you against the flu and everyone six months or older is encouraged to get their flu vaccine. You can search by zip code to find a location that offers flu vaccines near you – even drive through clinics in case you don’t want to enter a clinic or pharmacy right now. You can learn more about the flu and COVID-19 in our latest blog.
Q: Will there be a vaccine soon to prevent COVID-19?
A: At this time there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. It’s hard to say exactly when a vaccine will be available and how long immunity will last. Across the globe, researchers are fervently working and collaborating to safely and quickly develop a vaccine that protects against COVID-19. Read more about vaccination in our blog.
Blog last updated: December 1, 2020