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FIU HealthCare Network CEO Dr. Eneida Roldan answers questions we all have about the coronavirus.

March 26, 2020 at 12:00am

Members of the FIU community are asking smart questions about the coronavirus every day. So each week, FIU News will tackle some of the questions and get you the answers.


In this issue, FIU HealthCare Network CEO Dr. Eneida Roldan offers insight. 


Why is handwashing so important? 

Keeping your hands clean is one of the best things you can do to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others, but you need to do it right. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Don’t have a clock or timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song twice or sing the ABC Song. The CDC has a helpful video you can watch. 

And stop touching your face! Your eyes, mouth, and nose are entry points for the virus.


Is it too late to get a flu shot? Would it help against COVID19? What about vaccines against pneumonia?

No, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Flu (influenza) season runs through May. Getting a flu shot won’t prevent COVID19, but you are less likely to get the flu. Since influenza and COVID19 have similar symptoms, fewer flu cases make it easier for doctors to find patients with COVID19. It also frees up health care resources for those infected with COVID19. 

And nope, vaccines against pneumonia are not effective against the new coronavirus, but they’ll still protect you against various bacteria that cause pneumonia--one less thing to worry about.


Does alcohol kill the virus?

Yes, but please don’t drink it!

Studies show the new virus can live for hours to days on different surfaces. Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol and other disinfectant household cleaners can be used to clean frequently touched surfaces (tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks). However, the World Health Organization warns “spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body,” and could be harmful.

Have you heard rumors that drinking alcohol can prevent infection? It doesn't, but it can kill people, and it has. In Iran, 194 people died after drinking industrial-strength alcohol hoping to keep the virus at bay.


Is it okay to swim in my pool? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports “there is no evidence that COVID19-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs” and most if not all public pools are closed eliminating the danger of catching the virus from a nearby swimmer. Your home pool should be safe and a good way to exercise and combat cabin fever.


What about that malaria drug we keep hearing about?

The jury is still out on this one.

A small French study suggested that the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were promising against the new coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases notes that the drugs have not been vetted in a clinical trial and more data is needed to determine their safety and effectiveness. 

Hydroxychloroquine is being used in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin (Z-pack) and anecdotal evidence suggests the treatment works, at least for some people. “Lost” star Daniel Dade Kim believes that hydroxychloroquine was the “secret weapon” in his recovery from the coronavirus. A Florida man, so ill that he said his final goodbyes to family, also claims the drug saved him from certain death.

BUT BEWARE! We are not talking about chloroquine phosphate, a chemical often used to clean fish tanks. An Arizona man died, and his wife was critically injured after drinking soda with chloroquine phosphate in the hopes of keeping themselves safe from the virus.


Eneida O. Roldan, MD, MPH, MBA