Coronavirus questions answered: Should you wear a mask at the grocery store?

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Medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel answered your questions about the coronavirus pandemic on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday.

Question: How safe is it when I am grocery-shopping to not have a mask? Someone could have just coughed or sneezed before I got there? 

The question comes as a new study suggests that the novel coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours, and live on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

The research, published in the medRxiv depository, also notes that the virus can remain on copper surfaces for four hours and cardboard for up to 24 hours. The research found it could stay on stainless steel and plastic for anywhere between two and three days.

“I think people who are shopping in the grocery should be very, very careful,” Dr. Siegel said on Thursday.

“Wearing a mask actually doesn’t help you because it’s not going to prevent the spread of this,” he continued. “Even if the virus is hanging in the air, the most likely way you are going to catch it is from somebody coughing and sneezing on you, so you want to keep your social distancing of more than six feet and I would be careful when you are on the grocery aisles of wiping down things and watching what you are in contact with.”

“But you’re not going to get it from just having been in the same air as somebody who could possibly have it. That won’t give it to you,” he added.

“No, I wish it would,” Dr. Siegel said. “I hope we can do that this morning because that’s absolutely what we are finding in the U.S. right now in hot spot areas, including New York here, where not all the people that are very sick and on ventilators are actually 70 or 80 years old, which is what we thought coming out of Wuhan, so our perception is changing.”

“I don’t think the disease is, but I think the sense of who’s at risk is expanding,” he added.

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