HudsonAlpha scientist discusses masks, asymptomatic cases of COVID-19, and when to get tested

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Since the pandemic first made news there have been many developments and changes as to what COVID-19 is, how it spreads, and how we can help slow the spread.

From what health experts know as of right now, the virus is spread through respiratory droplets. So for example, as somebody breathes, talks, sings, coughs, all of those things could potentially be releasing the virus if they have it. Masks are shown as a strong and inexpensive defense.

At first the CDC was really just trying to gather data to understand how the virus spread and affected people. It was known that N95 masks were effective, but those needed to be saved for health professionals. Dr. Neil Lamb with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology says once more data was collected, it became clear that cloth masks could be effective.

Now as far as touching them and washing them, Lamb says you want to wash them at least once a day if possible, and if someone comes in close contact with you wash it immediately after use or at least swap out the mask.

Lamb said you also want your nose covered because similar to breathing, there are droplets that come out of your nose. as far as touching, he says try to avoid touching the parts of the mask that come in contact with your face – touch the straps on the sides.

Can asymptomatic people transmit COVID-19? When should I get tested if I think I might have it?

Early this month an official at the World Health Organization made a comment during a live Q&A on social media saying asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 rarely spread the disease.

Leaders from WHO then went back and clarified that there are still a lot of unknowns and they believe people who don’t have symptoms can still transmit the virus to others. That left many confused.

As health experts and researchers continue to learn more about the virus, there have been a lot of developments and changes that lead to confusion. Right now, the answer isn’t super clear but research so far says yes, you can transmit the disease to others even if you don’t have symptoms.

Dr. Lamb also says there is early evidence that shows asymptomatic COVID carriers may be infectious longer than those with symptoms, which if you think about, it makes sense because their immune system isn’t fighting it off as aggressively.

First you may feel fine and not really show COVID symptoms, but you may have a mild case of COVID-19, so just because you aren’t experiencing the fever or significant shortness of breath your body could be fighting off a mild case.

And with all the asymptomatic cases, lots of people are wondering when they should get tested.

Dr. Lamb says we simply don’t have enough tests for everyone to get tested weekly or something like that especially if we don’t have symptoms, plus it would place a tremendous burden on the testing system.

You want to get a test if you have had a significant exposure to someone with COVID-19 or if you are experiencing symptoms.

And while you are waiting for your test results, Dr. Lamb says it is very important that you self isolate before you get the results that way you don’t risk infecting others.