Published on Dec 04, 2020

Video Transcript

[THEME MUSIC] JOHN WHYTE: Hi, everyone. You're watching Coronavirus in Context. I'm Dr. John Whyte, Chief Medical Officer at WebMD. Today I want to answer some of your questions. I've been interviewing literally nearly 200 experts over the last few months. So I want to hear what's on your mind. And many of you have sent us questions in by email, through social media. But let's put things in perspective right now.

We have 14 million cases of COVID in the United States. We have over 275,000 people who have died from COVID-19. We're at an all time high of hospitalizations. Nearly 100,000 people hospitalized. Almost 200,000 new cases a day. And 2,000 deaths a day. We're heading in the wrong direction. There's no question about it.

And I get it. Everyone is fatigued. We're tired of staying inside. We're tired of wearing masks. But now's not the time to take our foot off the pedal. There's good news about the vaccine, and hopefully you've been watching our episodes this week about where we are with Pfizer, Moderna, as well as some other vaccines that may be coming on board very soon.

But that's still many months away for most of us. We still have to do all those safeguards that we've been talking about for many months, which is wearing a mask, washing our hands, physical distancing, avoiding crowds. So I really wanted to encourage everyone to keep doing that. And if you haven't been doing that, you really need to start today.

So let's turn to some of the questions that you've been asking me. And the first question is from Michael Phips. And he emailed me, "since November 9th, I have tested positive three times. Having quarantined and now being asymptomatic, can I still pass the virus on to others?" And it's a two-parter. And he says, "I have multiple myeloma and would like to know when it's safe to go back in the public." I want to talk about what the quarantine requirements are because there actually have been a couple new guidelines from the CDC.

So the first is, if you test positive, meaning you do have COVID-19, nothing has changed. What you do is you quarantine yourself for 10 days since symptoms first developed and you're 24 hours fever free without using any medicines-- such as Tylenol or Motrin-- that lower your temperature and you otherwise feel OK. At that point you can go back out and interact with other people. You're no longer infectious.

The new guidelines talk about if you've had contact with someone who tested positive. So you've had exposure to someone but you yourself have not had a test. Before we were saying that you quarantine for 14 days because that's how long we think you potentially can be infectious. That has recently changed to seven to 10 days. So if you are in direct contact with someone, you quarantine for 10 days instead of 14, or you can reduce it to 7 days if you have a negative test in those last couple of days. So those are the new guidelines available from CDC.

Now if you have a condition like multiple myeloma or other health conditions that could put you at risk, we do say you may need to extend that to 20 days. So I just want to keep that in mind. If you have a severe case or if you have underlying health conditions that continue to put you at greater risk, you might want to put that to 20 days. So I want to thank you for that question.

Now I have another question that relates to medicines. Patty Brown writes, "should I be alternating ibuprofen with Tylenol, along with taking zinc and vitamin C?" Acetaminophen-- that's Tylenol-- and Motrin can lower fever, can help with some body aches. Now remember, maximum dose of Motrin or ibuprofen is 800 milligrams no more than four times a day-- cue six hours, every six hours-- and for acetaminophen or Tylenol it's 650 milligrams no more than three times a day. Those are the maximum doses. I don't suggest you go to the maximum. But it is a good idea to perhaps alternate Motrin with Tylenol, assuming your kidneys and your liver work OK. So if you have fever and you're not feeling well and you don't have a condition that prohibits you from taking those medications, I think that's a good idea.

Now let's talk about vitamin C and zinc. People have been asking about it. They may have heard the president was taking vitamin D and some other medicines. So we do know that zinc and vitamin C play a role in immunity but there is no data to show that it actually can prevent you from getting COVID-19, or if you get COVID-19 you'll have less severe of a case.

So here's what I would say to it. If you want to take it, it's probably not going to hurt you. It may not make you better. The challenge is-- and I've seen this-- you don't want to go overboard and take megadoses because that's where it causes challenges. So although zinc at a normal dose can help with immunity, too much actually can weaken immunity and make you more prone to infection. It actually can decrease your good cholesterol and too much zinc can impact your sense of taste.

Vitamin C, we used to think that was the cure-all for everything. I'd say, instead of popping pills just drink some orange juice and maybe consider some fruit as well every day. It's always a good idea. An apple a day, even better an orange.

Now we also got a bunch of questions through social media. I want to turn to our first one from Yvette Martinez, which is a really good question. Yvette asks, "living in a multi-generational household, my boyfriend and I have tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating in our bedroom so as not to get other sick. Is it safe for us to be quarantining together?"

You know what? As long as you know that you're both positive-- that you have a test and both says it's positive-- it's OK. And let's be realistic. Everyone doesn't have the ability to quarantine and isolate in separate areas of a home or an apartment. So if you're both positive you can quarantine together. And that might save some space in the household. So remember, quarantine and isolating, you're staying in the bedroom, you're not going out of the room unless you really need to.

I want to answer this question that's been asked by a couple people on social. It says, once you get COVID can you get it a second time? That's been asked a lot. You know, we've seen a few cases of reinfection. I'm going to tell you, it's pretty rare. And most of the time it's been persons that have had a very mild case of COVID and then got a severe case of COVID. So we're still learning how long immunity lasts. It may be only a few months instead of a few years. That's why no matter what, even if you had COVID or you have antibodies, right now you still need to be practicing all the things that we've been talking about, handwashing physical distancing, avoiding large crowds, wearing your mask.

I want you to keep the questions coming. You can send them to me at [email protected] as well as all of our social properties. WebMD's on Instagram, on Twitter, and Facebook. So I'm looking forward to hearing your questions and want you all to think positive but test negative. Thanks for watching.