Expert suggests healthy lifestyle over stockpiling face masks during coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The concern surrounding the coronavirus is growing across the globe, and in central Virginia as well.

Local stores, like Pleasants Hardware in Midlothian, are selling out of face masks, like the “N95.” Customers are buying them to protect themselves from the virus.

“We can’t get them in because everybody is out of them, but were trying to get them in every week,” said store manager Rick Denning.​

Pleasants got a new shipment in on Tuesday and sold out that day. However, Infectious Disease Specialist and Director of VCU Infection Prevention Dr. Gonzalo Bearman said wearing those masks might not be that helpful to the general public.

​”As a health care provider taking care of a sick or infected person, wearing a face mask will limit the risk of infection. Remember, in those situations, a health care provider is very close to that patient that is infected, and potentially infectious. For the greater community, the use of stockpiling face masks is probably of limited benefit at this time,” Dr. Bearman told 8News.

He said the flu, which killed 60,000 Americans last year, is a bigger threat right now.

“Coronavirus remains a looming threat, but it’s not the clear and present danger right now in central Virginia. It’s common respiratory viruses that are going to have a greater impact,” Dr. Bearman explained.

Dr. Bearman thinks the popularity of face masks stems from the fear and uncertainty of coronavirus.

“Here we have a new type of virus of which our immune systems have no experience with, with which we have no treatment, and with which we have no vaccine,” he said.

Dr. Bearman anticipates a vaccine for coronavirus will be developed in the next 6 to 12 months. Over the next several years, he suspects the virus will become a pandemic, meaning it will be widespread across multiple countries, before becoming endemic, meaning it will always be present.

Bearman also told 8News the best thing you can do right now to prevent coronavirus is to try and stay as healthy as possible. He recommends getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth when you cough, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.

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