COVID-19 Q&A with Dr. Rubio
Transcribed and Summarized by Leah Martinez '22 and Kathleen Zapata '24
The Spartan Press and the Podcast Club gathered together questions regarding COVID-19 from the ICA student body. We are joined by Dr. Luis Rubio, an infectious diseases fellow from UCSF, to answer these questions for us.
Check out the full episode for comprehensive details Dr. Rubio discusses.
Is it possible to contract COVID even while wearing a mask? (0:41)
It is still possible. Nothing is zero percent in terms of transmission. We still recommend using masks because it lowers the chances of infection significantly.
When is someone who has COVID the most contagious? (3:30)
Our best estimate of the incubation period for COVID-19 is about a couple of days or so for you to develop symptoms and become contagious to other people. I usually use symptoms as a guide of how infectious someone can be which is why it is important when somebody does develop symptoms to get tested quickly.
Can you explain the change of the isolation period from 10 days to 5 days? (5:46)
Overall, the reason for the change from 10 days to 5 days is because after the CDC reviewed data and information about how long people are contagious, they observed that after day 5 most people are no longer contagious. Which is why here in California we still recommend getting another test after day 5 to make sure you are negative.
Is someone with symptoms more contagious than someone without symptoms? How can I tell if I am asymptomatic? (9:57)
If you are having symptoms then you are more likely to be very contagious to others which is why it is important to isolate. If you are having a get-together, traveling, taking care of others, or have family members at home who are vulnerable, getting a regular test is reasonable to make sure you don't have it and aren't asymptomatic and can't pass it to others.
What are other symptoms that can come from having COVID? Can you be more susceptible to things such as diabetes, cancer or mental health disorders? (11:48)
We talked mostly about the respiratory symptoms. Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory viral illness. We talked about fever, fatigue, not feeling quite yourself, and myalgia (muscle aches and pains). Again this an inflammatory response that your body makes which makes you feel overall crummy. Having COVID-19 itself does not necessarily mean that you are more likely to develop the conditions that you mentioned.
Is someone who takes pills such as antidepressants are at greater risk if they do come in contact with COVID? (15:40)
I would say that they are not at higher risk of developing COVID-19 or severe COVID-19 and there was an interesting study that there was one specific antidepressant called Fluvoxamine that actually shows that people who took this medicine did better at the time that they got COVID-19.
How many times can you get COVID and how will it affect your immunity and health after COVID? (17:00)
I have definitely seen folks get it again once and it really depends on how much the virus changes, because if the virus keeps changing maybe the immunity you had before won't be as protective. As long as we are still in this pandemic and there are still new variants coming around it is important to still follow masking, public health measures, maintaining 6 feet especially if there are a lot of community transmissions, and staying up to date with vaccines.
Circling back to the masks, as a follow-up question, when should we replace disposable masks? (19:55)
I would say that, if they’re visibly soiled. Like say-- if you’re wearing it and it’s wet, got stained, or dirty, that’s a scenario to replace it right away.
Will we be getting a booster shot every year just like the flu shot? (20:53)
Influenza changes very frequently and rapidly which is why we get a yearly flu shot. Now, with COVID-19, you are getting a lot of replication, and it is slowly evolving. Now, we’re seeing that every three or four months there seems to be a new strain. Again, it depends on what COVID-19 does. If it keeps changing, that may cause it to be more immune evasive or resistant to our vaccine. Then, we probably will need yearly vaccines depending on strains.
In the beginning of this whole pandemic around March or so, a lot of people dealt with anxiety and were scared, so many stores were out of stock —like toilet paper. How do we prevent or avoid issues like that in the future? (24:30)
In moments that there are these outbreaks scaling back the amount of activity that we do, this all happened over the holidays that kind of, which led to an exponential growth of it, so we do need to have good public health policies in moments of outbreaks to slow down the spread.
If someone were to test positive, how would you suggest isolation if they live in a small place, or share a place with other people, where they don’t have a spare room to isolate themselves. What is your advice on that? (28:31)
Get tested as soon as possible to first find out. Because the first step is finding out if you have COVID-19 or not. So when you do find out and the result is positive, try your best within the household to find one room that you can stay in.
If somebody who is suspected to have COVID or have COVID, it is important to clean down the bathroom each time that they use it [especially] high touch surfaces to lessen the risk of transmission there. Within that household, other measures people can do is ventilation. Opening the windows across the house can be helpful to increase that ventilation. Also, mask use in the house as well. if there is a scenario where somebody has COVID or is suspected of having COVID, I think it’s a good time to put on the masks until you find out more information. Then, also not eating at the same place as well. The goal is trying to minimize the spread as best as possible.
Coming from an ethnic family, a lot of the times when someone is sick, we use natural at home remedies, do you recommend that for people who have COVID? (34:00)
I say that if it is not causing any harm, then definitely go ahead and do it. I do try to say to patients that you know, it’s not gonna hurt, it also may not help entirely. It’s still important to seek care if you’re getting worse.
A lot of people don’t have access to tests for COVID. In a lot of places, at home tests are sold out, or they don’t know any information about where to get tested. What do you recommend when you’re in that situation? (36:18)
There are many community testing centers that do have COVID tests. Just down the street from ICA, there is a testing site at 24th and Capp. Look up the California Department of Public Health or San Francisco Department of Health [online], for a list of places that offer free COVID-19 testing. In discussion with your doctor, they can order a test for you in their healthcare system to get tested sooner.