Dr. Mallika Marshall is answering your coronavirus-related medical questions. If you have a question for Dr. Mallika, email her or message her on Facebook or Twitter.
Dr. Mallika is offering her best advice, but as always consult your personal doctor before making any decisions about your personal health.
I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and it’s hard to breathe while wearing a mask. I have to take the mask off every couple of minutes to get fresh air. What should I do? – John
I know that must be hard. You’re at high risk of developing COVID-related complications so you should be limiting the amount of time you spend away from home and therefore needing to wear a mask anyhow. If you do need to go in public, avoid going out when it’s hot and humid which makes wearing a mask even more uncomfortable and choose a cloth mask with breathable fabric.
Is it safe to dine outdoors at a restaurant with people who do not live in your household? – Melissa and Ann
It depends. It may be okay if you’re all healthy, you’re spaced apart, not sharing utensils or dishes and wearing masks up until the time you eat. But if you’re elderly, or have diabetes, or other underlying conditions, I would be more cautious. While being outdoors reduces the risk of transmission, it’s not zero.
My brother is having a graduation party with at least 30 people and they have no plans for social distancing. I’m a healthy 60-year-old woman. Is it safe for me to attend? – Dana
Thirty people feels like a lot of people and with no plans to socially distance or wear masks, I would be concerned. Even though you’re healthy and it’s being held outdoors, I would think twice about attending.
I know using hand sanitizer is the next best thing to washing your hands. However, I was under the impression that using too much hand sanitizer can harm your immune system. Is this true? – Lynn
There is no scientific evidence that using hand sanitizer will weaken your immune system. But we know that good hand washing and using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available are one of your best defenses when it comes to the coronavirus and many other harmful germs.