Infectious disease expert answers FOX 5 viewers' coronavirus questions

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday the District is open for business, expecting to welcome thousands of visitors over the next few weeks ahead of the Cherry Blossom Festival, which comes in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

There are no confirmed cases in D.C., though the city is closely monitoring the situation.

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FOX 5's Lauren DeMarco talked with viewers on the street and checked social media posts to take your questions and concerns about coronavirus to infectious disease expert Dr. Dena Grayson PhD, M.D.

I’d like to know why people are so concerned about Coronavirus?

Dr. Grayson: “Why? Because just like the flu, you can catch it pretty easily so it’s highly transmissible but worse than the flu is it looks like it has much more likelihood to cause severe illness or even death.”

Dr. Grayson says the real at-risk groups are elderly and immunocompromised people. Children so far, largely seem to be spared but could be carriers. Unlike the flu, there is currently no vaccine or treatment. She says a vaccine is not expected for at least a year. 

If I feel symptoms and a fever, do I call the doctor?

Dr. Grayson: “In general, I wouldn’t do much if it’s a mild cold but if you get severe symptoms definitely seek medical attention, but call ahead so they can be prepared and know that you’re coming.”

FILE - A woman wearing a surgical mask uses hand sanitizer.

(Photo by Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

"There are no masks to be found anywhere."

Dr. Grayson: “As far as aerosolized transmission, you have to be in very close contact. Somebody would have to like sneeze on you. Now, if you yourself are sick it is helpful to wear a mask.”

D.C. based Dr. Shilpi Agarwal shared photos of the N95 masks being reserved for health care workers.  Doctors are being specifically fitted for them.  She agrees regular surgical masks are helpful if someone has symptoms but they won’t protect the general public from droplets. 

"I work for the postal service and I’m worried about whether or not coronavirus can survive on parcels and letters." 

Dr. Grayson says you can get it from inanimate objects — money is of concern too!

Dr. Grayson: “This coronavirus it’s actually wrapped in an envelope of a kind of fat. When it leaves your cells and makes new viruses it’s actually an envelope of fat and the best thing to actually destroy the virus is soap. Wash your hands!”

"Should we be flying, even domestically?"

Dr. Grayson: “Officials are not recommending against travel. Certainly, if you’re nervous and it’s not essential I’d understand if folks said I want to put off my vacation.”

Dr. Grayson says cases of coronavirus may die down over the summer but she expects it to start spreading again come fall.

There are some urban myths about certain vitamins being able to prevent coronavirus. She says good nutrition and health is, of course, important but there’s no vitamin known to specifically ward off this virus.