Coronavirus questions answered: Can you be reinfected with the virus after you recover?

Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marty Makary, professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University, joined “Special Report with Bret Baier” to answer more viewer questions regarding the continuing coronavirus outbreak.


Question: My husband and I have been home for more than two weeks and haven’t been around anyone. Our children, who live in a neighboring town, have also been home, working from home and haven’t been around anyone for more than two weeks. Can we visit to see our children and grandchildren?

“Well, I think it’s reasonable for people to have distanced conversations, and what we’re seeing is a lot of people are actually having a conversation in their front yards or on their porch or from a balcony or a window to somebody who pulls up in their car,” Makary said. “And that’s reasonable given the duration of how long we’ve got to be really careful with our social distancing.”

“You’re saying don’t go over and give hugs to the grandkids,” Baier followed up.

“Yeah, hold off on hugs,” Makary said.

Question: Can you can be reinfected with the coronavirus after you actually recover?

“We don’t know. But if there was one piece of really good news this week, it was that we can test an antibody to see who’s immune. At the same time, we’re balancing whether or not there are any reinfections in the [Hubei] province of China,” Makary said. “Overnight, as you may know, they reported five out of one hundred and forty seven people demonstrated a re-infection after having the infection, but none of them had symptoms. So we are watching that very closely right now.”

Question: How long are asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers contagious for? 

“First of all, we don’t know the degree of how contagious you are. If you have no symptoms, it may be that there’s minimal contagiousness to your person. If you don’t have symptoms and after you’ve recovered the general guideline is for three days,” Makary said. “You need to play it safe and then you’re good to go.”

Question: What advice would you give to teenagers and young adults my age when they refuse to heed the advice of the professionals and continue to go out to the beaches and public spaces? 

“Well, generally speaking, kids think they are resilient. And what you need to tell them is that what they do can actually impact the health of health care workers that they’ve never met,” Makary said. “Doctors and nurses are [at] the highest risk of getting this infection. And this is not a disease of 80-year-olds. This is a disease where 20 percent of those hospitalized are between the ages of 20 and 44, although it is hard for this infection to hurt somebody who is very young and healthy.”


Question: A lot of people are getting take out delivery. You’ve talked about the cardboard and being careful about handling things. But what about the food itself?

“Well, certainly cooked food is safer. It runs fewer risks [than] cold food might. The virus does not do great outside the body for prolonged periods of time,” Makary said. “And even though virus particles have been detected on surfaces and containers after a couple of days, it’s not clear that that’s enough to really give you the infection that a droplet would from contact with a person.”

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