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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Coronavirus Q&A: Uncooked Foods, Antibody Testing, And 5G Conspiracy

Coronavirus Q&A image
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

We want to hear from you. Let this be your forum to ask any questions you may have concerning the coronavirus outbreak.

Just fill out the form at the bottom of this story, and include your name and hometown. We are working with the staff at USF Health to address your comments, and select questions will be answered on Health News Florida and wusfnews.org.

(updated April 30, 2020)

I wonder if uncooked foods, such as salads, should be avoided during the coronavirus outbreak? - Ronald Fazekas

COVID-19 is not considered a foodborne illness as, to date, there is no evidence of it being transmitted by food.  However, eating uncooked foods always represents some risk of transmission of other pathogens and should always be properly handled and cleaned where appropriate.  Those with impaired immune systems (people on high doses of prednisone medications, cancer chemotherapy or those with diabetes, for example) should be especially carefully.

-- Marissa J. Levine, MD MPH

When and where will antibody testing be available in FL? Will we need a doctors RX to get the test? - Janet Hecker

Antibody testing is already available but very limited and still under study.  As of earlier this week there were only 8 FDA approved tests although there are many companies touting their unproven tests so people should be wary of such ads.  You can find the approved tests on the FDA website.  As companies ramp up their approved tests and studies provide better guidance on how to interpret the results, we should see more widespread testing availability.  This will likely occur at different times in different parts of the country to some degree possibly related to the burden of disease in a given area.

-- Marissa J. Levine, MD MPH

Why is the topic of 5G pushed off as conspiracy? It is valid and of great concern for me. We had our home tested after Duke Energy put in a 5G box and the entire family broke out with flu-like symptoms. We had so much radiation registering on the counter. We had it promptly removed and no more radiation read and symptoms gone. It's a serious concern and should not be disregarded. So many media outlets have sloughed it off as conspiracy and it's not right. - Megan Brazil

5G is a separate and distinct issue that should be addressed. Claims of conspiracy theory or fake news are often used as a mechanism to eliminate debate about controversial topics.  In a democracy, we should encourage difficult analytical questions.  In many areas of product development, the U.S. regulatory system balances permitting useful product in the marketplace with consideration of potential health hazards.  The question is not whether certain products pose a health hazard, but what the public will tolerate and how much of a hazard is too much.  Regulations across multiple industries are designed to facilitate product delivery to the marketplace, but the existence of regulation does not equate to product safety.  This is why there are many product liability lawsuits.  There have been many products in the marketplace where the real risks to human health take decades to uncover (such as other forms of radiation, tobacco products, certain pesticides).  Epidemiologist Dr. Devra Davis provides useful information on the gaps in regulatory law specific to the 5G industry on the website Environmental Health Trust here: https://ehtrust.org/

-- Katherine Drabiak, JD

Who is responsible for enforcing quarantines on those who test positive but are asymptomatic? - Phyllis Whitney

Most people who are asymptomatic will not be tested in the U.S.  Our testing strategy in the U.S. is aimed at testing people with moderate or severe symptoms.  CDC guidance specifically states that patients with mild symptoms may not need to be tested and it may be difficult to locate testing based on lack of testing supplies.  People should also keep in mind there may be multiple types of COVID-19 tests on the market, but not all have been granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, which means the test may not give an accurate result.  According to the WHO, about 80% of people who contract SARS-CoV-2 are either asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment.  Thus, many people with SARS-CoV-2 will not receive a test. 

For cases such as travel into the U.S. or between states where there may be a reason to test people who exhibit no symptoms as a precaution, this power is delegated to the CDC.  The CDC may issue a quarantine order against the person with instructions that may be enforced by law.  The purpose of quarantine is to monitor to see if the person develops symptoms and keep this person away from healthy people for the duration of infectivity.  Quarantines must be by the least restrictive means necessary, which generally means that health officials will provide helpful directions for the person to remain at home during this time and limit contact with others.

At the state and local level, state law permits quarantine orders if state officials have evidence that this person has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.  Similarly, health officials provide guidance on how to care for one's health and limit contact with others.  These are also enforceable through law enforcement.

-- Marissa J. Levine, MD MPH

What's the percentage of recovered cases, and are they being solicited to donate blood for convalescent plasma? - Phyllis Whitney

From my understanding there is not an accurate count of this in the U.S. because we are not testing most cases (see above).  Based on current data from other countries, most cases that are asymptomatic, mild and moderate are recovering.

Iceland tracks this data: https://www.covid.is/data.

Johns Hopkins Tracker provide information as well: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

I am not sure about donation.

-- Katherine Drabiak, JD

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