CNN readers have been asking sharp questions about coronavirus every day. And each weekday, we’ll select some of the top questions and get you the answers.
Q. If traveling on a plane, how do I stay safe?
It’s not the cabin air you need to worry about. It’s keeping your hands clean.
Always be mindful of where your hands have been, travel medicine specialist Dr. Richard Dawood said.
Airport handrails, door handles and airplane lavatory levers are notoriously dirty.
“It is OK to touch these things as long as you then wash or sanitize your hands before contaminating your face, touching or handling food,” Dawood said.
“Hand sanitizers are great. So are antiseptic hand wipes, which you can also use to wipe down armrests, remote controls at your seat and your tray table.”
Q. Since a plane’s cabin keeps circulating air, will I get sick if another passenger is sick?
Modern commercial jets recirculate 10-50% of the air in the cabin, mixed with outside air.
“The recirculated air passes through a series of filters 20–30 times per hour,” the CDC says.
“Furthermore, air generally circulates in defined areas within the aircraft, thus limiting the radius of distribution of pathogens spread by small-particle aerosols. As a result, the cabin air environment is not conducive to the spread of most infectious diseases.”
Q. What exactly does ‘older’ adults mean? What is the age threshold?
“This ought to be top of mind for people over 60, and those with underlying health problems,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime CDC adviser.
“The single most important thing you can do to avoid the virus is reduce your face to face contact with people.”
But why is age 60 often used as a threshold for those who need to be extra cautious?
“(The) average age of death for people from coronavirus is 80. Average age of people who need medical attention is age 60.”
Q. Should I avoid Chinese, Korean or Italian people?
No. Not everyone in a certain demographic is at risk for coronavirus.
And social stigmas often cause more harm than good — whether they’re directed at a nationality or at a profession, like health care workers.
Q. Can you get coronavirus through food?
“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”
Q. I have plans to go on a cruise. Should I rebook or cancel?
Q. If I have a weakened immune system, should I cancel my travel plans?
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, those with weakened immune systems often suffered more severe complications when sickened while traveling.
CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.