Coronavirus questions answered: When will my kids go back to school?

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the American public, people around the country want to know when their children will be back in school, what preexisting conditions put them more at risk for the virus and whether their recent flu-like symptoms were actually evidence of the contagion.

Fox News Medical A-Team member Dr. Manny Alvarez -- the chairman of obstetrics at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey -- and Dr. Marty Makary, a health policy expert at Johns Hopkins in Maryland, answered viewers' questions on Friday's "Special Report."

Question: When do the experts think my children will be back in school?

With many states ordering school districts to cease operation amid the outbreak, children are often relegated to staying at home with their parents.

Dr. Alvarez said it will be at least another couple of weeks before the schools will be safe to reopen, urging parents to wait to hear from the White House as to what to predict for the future.


"The president and the CDC have told you that they are going to give an announcement as to the [infecton] curve by day 14. ... At that point in time, you are going to have a better idea whether it's going to be a four-week, five-week, or six-week type of period," he said.

Question: In October, November and December of 2019, there was an illness going around where people were having a cough, sore throat and so on for as long as three weeks. Medical professionals were not testing for coronavirus at the time. Can they absolutely say that COVID-19 was not here at that point?

According to Dr. Makary, the common flu was prevalent last fall, and symptoms like those described by the viewer are commonly tied to the flu as well.

"[W]e know that first [coronavirus] incident was probably in late November back in the Wuhan [Hubei] province of China," he said. "So, I think what we're going to learn from this are probably some best-hygiene practices and then we are going to carry on for years to come with the future flu epidemics."

Question: If a blood donor is an unknowing coronavirus carrier does the blood get tested for the virus, and is the recipient informed?

Dr. Alvarez responded by saying that blood donors often have to answer questions about their health history and will now likely be asked about recent experiences of coronavirus "risk factors" such as fever and so on.

Alvarez added that the American Red Cross is telling folks not to be afraid to donate blood, and host Bret Baier noted there are shortages in some regions.


Question: What do experts mean by "preexisting conditions" in terms of susceptibility to coronavirus?

"Particularly those where your immune system is weakened and also those where the lungs and the respiratory system may not have the same strength and health to expand big," said Dr. Makary. "That's why people with severe disabilities may not have a great lung capacity and be at increased risk."

"That's why older people are at higher risk because their immune systems are weaker than younger people," Makary said.

Question: I am wondering how all of this stress is affecting our immune systems when we are all alone. I am an extrovert and I find it a happy thing to be out and about. How can extroverts deal with this situation?

Dr. Alvarez pointed to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent order, saying that the Democrat doesn't expect residents to shelter in their homes for months.


"Find a path that you can walk by yourself. Get a little sunshine. Go onto the balcony. You can do some gardening, if you have something like that," he said. "It's going to take a toll. Indeed, excessive stress can lead to your body not feeling right and your immune system be compromised."

Dr. Makary stressed the importance of a healthy diet in times like this, to protect Americans' immune systems.