Covid-19 FAQs


Even though it isn't a stomach bug, many people have been asking me lots of questions about Covid-19 (also known as coronavirus and SARS-CoC-2). They want to know if I'm freaking out about it, and what I'm doing to prepare. I'm not freaking out, but the fast increase in the number of cases is worrying me. Here are some of the questions that I'm getting and my answers.

Which hand sanitizers kill Covid-19? 

Of course, it is best to do a good, thorough hand washing whenever possible. However, most alcohol hand sanitizers probably work well killing Covid-19. Covid-19 is an enveloped virus which makes it more susceptible to alcohol than norovirus (which is non-eveloped). So, most 70% alcohol hand sanitizers should kill Covid-19.  (I don't think anyone actually tested hand sanitizers against Covid-19 yet). I use Zylast antiseptic hand sanitizer. It has been shown to kill norovirus and does wonderfully in my experiments against bacteria (which you can see here).  Zylast antiseptic is 76% ethanol and can be ordered here. Use coupon code StopNorovirus to get 10% off your order. 

I know some of you will say that Zylast is in trouble with the FDA. That is true. They have been battling with the FDA for years. The FDA will not let hand sanitizer companies tell people which specific germs their hand sanitizer kills even if they have the test data to prove it. I think that is a bad rule. I believe people have the right to see test data and make informed choices about what products they use. So, the FDA trouble has nothing to do with Zylast being harmful or not doing what it says. If I ever learn that Zylast is dangerous or doesn't kill norovirus, I would write about it and tell everyone. In the mean time, it does fabulous in my experiments so that is what I use. 

What cleaning products kill Covid-19?

I found this research article showing that Covid-19 is killed by 62-71% ethanol,  .5% hydrogen peroxide, and .1% sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach). So, I'm sticking with my usual cleaning routine. I spray off my toilets and white bathroom countertops with 3% hydrogen peroxide every day. I let it sit a few minutes and then wipe it off. Here is a picture/ad for a brown spay bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide. This is what I use for every day cleaning. These are usually available at Walmart for less than $2 each. Although, this plain 3% hydrogen peroxide probably kills Covid-19, I use something stronger if someone in the house actually has a stomach bug. 

When anyone in the house is actually sick with a stomach bug, I spray down the bathrooms with a solution of 10% chlorine bleach in water (1/2 cup chlorine bleach with 4.5 cups of water in a spray bottle). I also use this Clorox® Hydrogen Peroxide Spray on surfaces that can't be bleached. It kills coronavirus AND norovirus and doesn't bleach surfaces. 

How does Covid-19 compare with SARS and MERS? 

Covid-19, SARS, and MERS are all caused by similar coronaviruses. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) started in China in 2002. There were about 8000 cases and about 800 deaths (10% mortality). MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) started in Saudi Arabia in 2012.  It caused about 2500 cases and 800 deaths (32% mortality). Covid-19 started in December 2019 in China. As of March 12, 2020 there were 100,000 cases and over 4000 deaths (about 3-4% mortality). So, Covid-19 is more easily spread than SARS and MERS. Luckily, its mortality rate is lower (so far). All 3 of these coronaviruses are thought to have originated in bats. Here is a great article if you want more information about SARS and MERS. 

How long does Covid-19 live on surfaces?
Usually respiratory viruses are not as rugged as stomach viruses (which have to survive stomach acid) and do not live as long on surfaces. I did find this research paper that said the SARS and MERS coronaviruses could live on surfaces up to 9 days! That is much longer than I hoped. 

What is the incubation period of Covid-19?
The incubation period is 2-14 days according to the CDC.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
The main symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Sore throat and diarrhea have also been reported. Exhaustion, body aches, land oss of taste and smell are also common. Then a lot of people get pneumonia. Some people can be carriers with no symptoms but still shed the virus in their poop. (Again, please wash hands after using the bathroom.)

How is Covid-19 transmitted? 

Covid-19 seems to be more contagious than SARS and MERS. The viruses are in respiratory secretions and have also been found in feces (poop). So, you can catch it if someone coughs on you or doesn't wash their hands after using the bathroom.  If you get the viruses in your eyes, nose, or mouth then you can get sick. 

What did you run out and buy when you heard Covid-19 hit the USA?

I did not need to run out and buy anything. I always keep hand soap, hand sanitizer, face masks, disposable gloves, and cleaning products on hand. I did not feel the need to stock up on toilet paper like so many people did. 

Are you wearing a face mask everywhere? 
At first I wasn't wearing a face mask. However, I started wearing a face mask around the end of March when I went into the grocery store or into public buildings. I do think wearing a mask is a good idea to protect other people from an illness that you might not even know you have. The mask doesn't protect you perfectly. Some germs could get in around the edges of the mask. However, it can still help. Even before coronavirus, I would wear a mask if I had a bad cough and went to the doctor. I also wearing a face mask when you are caring for a sick person such as a vomiting child. If you are sick with a bad cough, I recommend staying home. However, definitely wear a face mask if you have to go somewhere or have other people in your home. You do not need to wear a mask when you go out for a walk if you won't be near other people and you aren't sick. 

What are you doing differently because of Covid-19?

At first I wasn't doing anything different. My family ALWAYS washes hands when we come home from a public place. We always wash hands before eating and after using the bathroom. We always avoid going to people's houses who are sick. However, after the stay-at-home order, I did not do much besides go to the grocery store and the food pantry that I help run. We  still go for walks with the dog. It is highly unlikely that you will catch coronavirus on a nice walk in the fresh air when you aren't close to other people. (A crowded sidewalk would be risky, but a walk by your self through a neighborhood is pretty safe.)

How can I avoid getting sick? 

-Wash hands 
  • when you get home from any public place. 
  • before eating or touching food.
  • after using the bathroom. 
  • after changing diapers.
  • after handling animals.
  • Dry them on clean hand towels or paper towel. 
-Disinfect your phone.  
-Do not go to someone's house who is sick.
-Stay away from people who are sick.
-Quarantine the sick person. 
-Do not use the same bathroom as the sick person.
-Wear disposable gloves when caring for a sick person and change gloves frequently (before you contaminate something with dirty gloves).
-Don't touch your face or mouth.
-Don't sit or stand too close to other people in public.
-Eat healthy food.
-Try to get enough sleep

How can I protect others from catching my sickness?

-Stay away from other people as much as possible when you are sick and for a few days after.
-Stay home from work.
-Wash your hands frequently.
-Cough into a tissue.
-Wear a mask if you are coughing and have to be around others.
-Do not prepare food for others if you are sick.
-Disinfect surfaces
-Don't have company to your house until you have been well for 2 weeks (so remaining germs have time to die). 

Do you take any vitamins/supplements to stay healthy? 

I cannot guarantee that this actually helps, but I've been taking 2 of these Emergen-C vitamins every day for the last 4 months and have been very healthy.

I also 2 of these Vitamin D3 soft gels every day.

I also take this Omega 3 Supplement every day. 

I also eat healthy (a spinach salad most days and, of course, dark chocolate). But I never get enough sleep. For example, I wrote and posted this article late one night.  

How do I do the laundry to kill Covid-19?
If you are dealing with laundry contaminated with Covid-19, I would be as careful as I am with norovirus contaminated laundry. I don't really think it is possible to be more careful than that. Here is my video where I demonstrate how to handle the laundry.

YouTube Video

It is alarming how fast the number of cases of Covid-19 is increasing. We can decrease it if everyone is more careful. Washing hands more often, keeping bathrooms disinfected, and staying away from other people when you are sick will seriously decrease most contagious illnesses, not just Covid-19. 

Please remember that I am not a medical doctor. Nothing I say should be taken as medical advice. 

Thank you.---Annie Pryor, Ph.D.