Clearing up coronavirus concerns and misconceptions

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With new cases of coronavirus popping up every day, many people are taking extra precautions.

But do you really need a mask? And are you at risk if you ordered something from China?

There are so many questions surrounding the virus, the World Health Organization has dedicated an entire section of its website to "myth-busting." You can find that page here.

But with an evolving virus like this, there aren’t always absolute answers.

5 EYEWITNESS News has been getting many questions from viewers, like Karen Mattingly of Lakeville, who recently ordered a few shirts and a pair of shoes from a Facebook ad. She later found out the package originated in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

"I started thinking, well that’s strange. I wonder how many people have touched this? And where has it been? And how long does the virus stay on there?" Mattingly said.

We took these concerns to Patsy Stinchfield, who specializes in infectious disease at Children’s Minnesota.

Stinchfield explained, "The travel it would take to come from China to Minnesota or Wisconsin would be so long that the virus would not likely survive that trip."

She said the latest research shows coronavirus may stay alive on a surface anywhere from a couple of hours up to a day or so.

"If I received a package from Wuhan, China, I would open it and I would wash my hands," Stinchfield said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it appears coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the flu.

So what about face masks? Stores are selling out of various types of masks.

Stinchfield said, unless you’re showing symptoms of illness, you do not need to be wearing a mask in public as a precaution. There are no cases of coronavirus in Minnesota at this point.

"For the average American, do they need to go out and buy those special N-95 masks? I would say no," Stinchfield responded. "And should we be walking around with surgical masks on? I would say no."

For the latest information on coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and answers to many recent questions, click here.