Health Questions and Answers
RELEASE 1: BASIC INFO
Who can we trust to give us reliable information about the coronavirus?
It has become really hard to know who to trust these days with information about the coronavirus. So it’s no wonder that people are confused! As a church, we feel that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referred to as the CDC, is a trusted source of medical information regarding the coronavirus. The CDC is respected all around the world and is made up of many medical experts. Their role is to keep us safe from health threats by conducting medical research, educating the community, and making recommendations to the government about how we should respond. To learn more about the CDC, click here.
How do people get sick?
People get sick when they are exposed to an invader, like a virus, bacteria, or fungus. When the invader enters the body in high enough numbers, they cause damage to the body and lead to an infection. Infections cause the body to mount a defense against the invader. The system in charge of mounting that defense is called the immune system. Did you know that some of the symptoms that make us miserable when we are sick, like a fever and a headache, are actually the result of your body’s defense against the invader? To learn more about the body’s immune system, click here.
How do these invaders get around town?
The skin is a great defense system against invaders, but there are some weak spots to our bodies. Invaders usually enter our bodies through one of these weak spots: the mouth, eyes, nose, and wounds. These invaders can reach our body’s weak spots through droplets released when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks. They can also reach our weak spots when an infected person touches a surface, we touch that same surface, and then proceed to touch one of our weak spots prior to washing our hands. Depending on the type of invader, they can also be light weight enough to float in the air for an extended amount of time before we breathe them in. To learn more about how the coronavirus spreads, click here.
Why do we need to be physically distant from other people?
The coronavirus is mainly spread from person-to-person. Keeping physical distance (at least 6 feet) between yourself and others greatly reduces the ability for the coronavirus to spread. We also know that people may not show symptoms until around days 5-14. So a person may be infected without even knowing it. Or, they may be one of the people that never show any symptoms or have symptoms so mild they aren’t even noticeable. Even though one person may have a mild case, they could potentially pass it along to someone who could get seriously ill or even die. We stay physically distant from each other to keep everyone safe. To learn more about physical distancing, click here.
Why do we need to wear face masks? Do they even work?
Face masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Because it’s possible to carry and spread coronavirus without showing symptoms, it is best to wear a face-covering even if you think you are healthy. A mask helps contain droplets that come out of your mouth and/or nose when you talk, sneeze, or cough. If you have the coronavirus and are not showing symptoms, a face mask reduces your chance of spreading the infection to others. If you are healthy, a mask may also protect you from larger droplets from the people around you. Click here to watch a video that shows the difference between someone talking both with and without a mask under a black light. To learn more about the importance of wearing face masks, click here.
What kind of face mask should I be wearing?
Cloth masks and surgical masks offer protection, both for you and for the people you may come into contact with. The best cloth masks will have multiple layers of fabric. Your mask should cover your face from the bridge of your nose to under your chin. It should be loose-fitting but still secure enough to stay in place. Make sure you can talk with your mask on and that it doesn’t irritate you. We want to make sure you are not tempted to touch it or to pull it out of place, which could put you at risk from touching your face and limit its effectiveness. To check how well your mask may filter out coronavirus particles, you can perform the “light test.” Hold your mask up to the light. If you can see light through the fabric, then your mask is probably not as effective as something that you can’t see light through. The thicker the material, the denser it is, and the more likely it will be to filter out particles better. To learn more about how to properly wear a mask, click here.
Do face masks damage our immune system and make it hard to breathe?
Some people are choosing not to wear a cloth mask because they believe it lowers their oxygen levels and damages their immune system. There is no evidence that wearing a mask lowers your oxygen levels. Masks are designed to be breathed through and people wear them in hospital settings for long periods of time. If a person has a pre-existing lung condition, they should consult their doctor before wearing a cloth mask. But for everyone else, wearing a cloth mask will not affect your ability to breathe.
There is also no evidence that wearing a cloth mask will weaken your immune system. Some people have said that a cloth mask limits your exposure to the bacteria that keep your immune system active and functioning. But, even with a mask on, people are still being exposed to plenty of bacteria through the food they eat and the surfaces they touch. Experts are not recommending we wear cloth masks to protect us against bacteria. They are recommending that we wear them to help prevent droplets containing the coronavirus from being exhaled by an infected person when they cough, sneeze, and talk. They are also recommending we wear them to help prevent us from inhaling droplets that may contain the coronavirus. To learn more about what experts are saying about mask-wearing, oxygen levels, and the immune system, click here.
If I have already been infected with the coronavirus and recovered, do I still need to wear a mask?
Yes! There are some people who have recovered from the coronavirus who still test positive for the virus weeks later. And experts are still trying to learn if people can pass along the virus to other people after they have recovered. When in doubt, always choose to wear a mask! When everyone wears a mask in a group, it helps everyone to feel safe and protected. To learn more about people who have recovered and their ability to pass along the virus, click here.
What is the risk if we gather at a church building with the windows open?
This pandemic is all about risk-reduction and choosing activities that carry lower risk than other activities. Right now, experts still believe that indoor gatherings are riskier than outdoor gatherings, even when there is access to outdoor air. In an indoor space, it is harder to keep people apart from one another and there’s also less ventilation. While there is still so much we don’t know about the coronavirus, here is what we do know:
- The more people you interact with, the greater your risk.
- Interacting with people outside of your household increases your risk.
- Some people have the virus and don’t have any symptoms.
- When an infected person talks, sneezes, or coughs, droplets can land on people that are within 6 feet, and can also be inhaled into the lungs of people further away than 6 feet.
Based on this, we still feel that it is too risky to hold in-person church services. To learn more about the risk of coronavirus and indoor settings, click here.