COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado comes many questions from viewers about the virus. We're taking those questions and asking local health experts and local leaders for their takes on the outbreak during an hour-long special on Monday.
Watch below. A recap of answers is below the video.
The coronavirus, COVID-19, has killed one person in El Paso County, and more than 130 presumptive positive cases have been found so far in the state.
Virus Questions with Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director:
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Fever, cough and shortness of breath are the most common. But there are sometimes more mild symptoms like headaches, runny noses and body aches.
Why is this getting so much attention?
This is a new coronavirus, it hasn’t cycled through the population before so we’re still learning about it. We want to be extra careful.
How severe is it? How much worse is it than the flu?
We just don't know yet. We're still gathering information.
Will it die down in the summer time?
We don't have enough data for that right now, although it's a possibility given that other viruses do behave like that -- such as the flu.
Yes, it does help and 20 seconds is the recommendation.
Those social distancing recommendations will continue to evolve as the situation progresses. The recommendations are based off of what's happening in our community, and could be different in other cities. For Colorado Springs/El Paso County, it's recommended to limit large gatherings and to stay six feet apart.
Is testing free? Are there enough tests?
Yes, testing is free but testing requires a doctor's visit. The doctor's visit might not be free. There are enough tests in Colorado Springs right now. People aren't being turned away if they have a doctor's note.
Economy Questions with Tatiana Bailey, Ph.D. UCCS Economics Professor:
Will I be impacted financially by the stock market downturn if I don't own stock?
You're likely not immune, given that local businesses and employment will likely be affected and the trickle-down effect.
Will the real estate market be impacted?
Unfortunately, all sectors will likely be impacted.
Once the scare passes, will the market ramp back up right away, or will it be a longterm recovery?
It's hard to say, but if we compare it to the Spanish Flu crisis in 1918, the market saw a small recession that lasted seven months. We're hoping it will pass quickly.
Will there be any financial relief from the government if you own a small business that’s been impacted?
It's possible. I'd be surprised if there wasn't something like that.
Municipal Questions with Mark Waller, Chairman of the El Paso County Commission & Bret Waller, Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor John Suthers:
Will normal city operations continue?
Yes, we'll continue to have fire, police, bus service and road crews. There may be some modifications while trying to work within health guidelines.
Are city services safe?
We're increasing our cleaning of city buses and we have sanitation stations in city buildings.
How do you respond to the idea of media hyping up the situation?
The message going out isn’t being hyped. It’s a serious issue. Most of us won't have a serious illness, but it's a serious issue if you’re over 60. I want to make sure I’m not an asymptomatic person carrying the virus who then goes to a susceptible person who may get sick and die. We need to be calm, but move deliberately. Also, get you information from credible sources, particularly El Paso County Health and the CDC.
Medical Questions with Dr. David Steinbruner, Associate Chief Medical Officer UC Health Memorial Hospital:
What's the biggest challenge at UC Health?
Figuring out what we're about to be dealing with in a week or a few weeks. We're looking at places like Italy and Washington state to try and predict that. Likely there will be a lot more people sick in 1 to 2 weeks.
Do you have the staff/supplies you need?
We think so. We're preparing ICU doctors and readying isolation rooms. We've postponed all non-emergent surgeries if it's safe to do so to free up resources.
If I get COVID-19, will I be immune to getting it again?
We don't know for sure, but that is the case with other viruses for some period after the initial infection. There is a possibility for reinfection, but we just don't know yet.
What's the true fatality rate? There are many numbers out there.
The rate is changing every day. Right now it's between 2.8% and 3.4%. If you think about the flu, someone in their 70s or 80s with underlying medical issues their mortality rate can also be quite high. We know that with COVID-19, 81%-82% get a mild illness where they don't know they have the virus or their able to stay home and get over it without medical assistance. About 14% get a critical illness and need medical help. We might actually be overestimating the fatality rate because some people may have had mild symptoms and not been tested.
If I'm not feeling well, how do I know it's COVID-19?
It's hard to say. Right now, there are other common viruses going around that you might get. But as the rate of COVID-19 infection gets higher, we can later assume that you have COVID-19. For the most part, you don't know unless you're tested. But you might not need to get tested depending on your symptoms. Spend some time talking with your doctor to determine if you need to get tested. If you have a mild case of the illness, it's best to stay home and treat your symptoms with tissues, cough drops and hydrating.
If I don't know I have the virus, could I unknowingly spread it?
That's possible. For example, children can be asymptomatic and spread it to others.
Education Questions with Thomas Gregory, Academy District 20 Superintendent:
District 20 extended spring break. Is it possible school could get canceled for the rest of the semester?
That will be reevaluated at the end of this week.
The CDC recommended that we limit gathering 50 people or more -- how are schools different?
It's hard to reconcile all of the information that's out there.
What would give you the green light to reopen schools?
There are many factors that go into that decision. That would be based on how badly the virus is impacting our school community and larger community directly.
What kind of e-learning is going on?
It depends on grade level. For high school and middle school students, they're already used to doing some level of online coursework, so they can do that with less supervision. But for elementary school students, they haven't been introduced to that yet. It depends. Sometimes it's instructions sent to parents via email or text alert.