Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

  1. Air fresheners to clear coronavirus

Q:  Could we use air fresheners in our meeting house to help make indoor group meetings safer?

A:  Air fresheners are often called room deodorizers.  Their primary function is to mask any unpleasant or offensive odors that might be present.  None of the commercially available air fresheners disinfects or destroys bacteria or virus particles that may be suspended in the ambient air.  Using air fresheners in the meeting house would also be contrary to our policy protecting congregants who are sensitive to perfumes or personal colognes worn by others.

There are also small plug-in air cleaners available.  These pass air through small filters that screens out soot, dust and other particulates.  The individual coronavirus-19 virions are sub-microscopic and will easily pass through these filters.  In addition, the amount of air filtered is very small compared to the large volume in our meeting house rooms.

Coronavirus-19 infects people when the virus in sufficient concentration is inhaled into the respiratory system of a healthy individual.  This is why wearing cloth face coverings is an effective practice by reducing the concentration of coronavirus virions appearing in the space close to an infectious person.  There are other effective ways to reduce the concentration of virus in indoor room air:

  • The least costly way would be to send room air outside replacing it with fresh, in-flowing air. Opening windows is one tactic that could help.  Putting an outward-facing window fan in each open window would greatly improve the result.  In winter, evaluation on the degrees of heat loss in our meeting house would have to be evaluated if a room ventilation system doesn’t already add fresh incoming air to be warmed before it blows into interior spaces.
  • In hospitals, ventilation systems use High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters before air is returned to the interior. HEPA filters are commercially available for many mechanical ventilation systems. Airflow would be more restricted when using HEPA filters.  The rate of air exchange would have to be evaluated in our meeting house to ensure adequate protection.
  • Another system used in health care facilities is exposure of air taken from interior space to ultraviolet light, killing the virus before returning the air. These systems are probably too expensive for us but still could be evaluated.
  • Finally, any ceiling fans, if used, provide a very short-term benefit. These would only stir up the room air lowering the concentration of virus particles near the people, but slowly raising this concentration to critical levels throughout the room.


  1. Prolonged medical problems after recovery from COVID-19

Q: Once a person recovers from COVOID-19, are there any lasting effects?

A:  Continuing research is showing new problems that infected people may have after they recover. Previously identified post-recovery issues included heart damage, lung damage, strokes, and other neurological issues.  On June 27, it was reported that another type of problem has emerged.  Anthony Fauci, MD, identified a series of neurological conditions.  Dr. Fauci Identified these as “brain fog, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating.”  He continued, “So, this is something we need to seriously look at because it may very well be a post-viral syndrome associated with COVID-19.”  Work is continuing to identify the precise causes of this syndrome.  Currently the focus is on small proteins called cytokines which cross the blood barrier and interact directly with brain cells.  Post-viral or chronic fatigue is more commonly observed in women than in men.   It affects patients of all ages, but appears to be more pronounced with older people and people with underlying health conditions.  One positive aspect currently under study is it appears for many people to resolve itself with slow improvement over time.


  1. Sleepaway camp CDC investigation a warning for when schools open.

Q:  What problems were discovered when sleepaway camps opened?

A:  The CDC on July 31, released a report on its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report studying the experience at the YMCA Camp High Harbour, a sleepaway camp in Georgia, warning that this illustrates what might happen when schools will soon open.  The overnight camp adhered to the measures identified in Georgia’s Executive Order guiding camp operations.  It also followed most of the CDC published guidelines.  This included documentation of a valid negative COVID-19 test taken within t2 days by each person coming to camp.   It opened its doors on June 21 with 597 Georgia residents attending.  Two days later, one teenage staff member felt ill and left the camp.  He later tested positive for COVID-19.  On June 24, staff began sending other campers home.  On June 27, just under one week after opening, the camp closed.

The Georgia Department of Health began a follow-up testing program and eventually reached 344 (58%) of the attendees who live in Georgia.

  • Of the people tested, 260 (76%) tested positive.
  • Among the 136 cases whose symptoms were recorded, 36 (26%) reported no symptoms. They were asymptomatic.
  • The percentage of children testing positive diminished by age group;
    • Of the group that were aged 6-10 years – 51% tested positive;
    • Of those aged 11-17 years – 44% tested positive;
    • Of those aged 18-21 years – 33% were positive.

The camp had not followed some of the CDC guidelines.  Staff were required to wear cloth face coverings but not the children, and doors and windows were not opened to permit air-replacement ventilation.  Also, children were often engaged in singing and boisterous cheering.  The conclusion of this study was stated, “These findings demonstrate that COVID-19 spread efficiency in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons of all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most of the recommended strategies to prevent transmission.”

  1. Herd immunity 

Q:  What is herd immunity? 

A:  Many infectious diseases give immunity for those who have recovered.  This protection prevents the person from becoming reinfected.  The more of these recovered patients in a community or nation, the fewer the number of susceptible people who remain to get the disease.  Most epidemiologists calculate that when 60% of a population has recovered from such an infectious disease, the possibility of the remaining susceptible people would be so low that that disease would die out and no longer represent a threat.  This threshold is identified as “herd immunity.”

In Connecticut, 60% of the current population would be 2,138,000 people needing to get such an infectious disease to reach herd immunity.  To achieve this additional number of confirmed cases could be calculated on a recent 10-day average of new cases at 9.14 per day.  This would require 23,390 days (64 years) before herd immunity could be reached.  Obviously, this cannot be a goal for Connecticut to conquer this pandemic.  Some nations started out this way, including the United Kingdom and Sweden.  After closer examination, no one is now proceeding this way.

And, remember that there is early suspicion that immunity for recovered COVID-19 patients may be temporary.  If so, herd immunity might never be possible.


  1. COVID “saliva testing” for more rapid results.

Q:   Why do we still have COVID testing that takes a week or more to get results?

A:  Still missing is a national program for COVID-19 testing. Each state competes to identify their preferred platform from the multiple tests that have been authorized.  Many of these involve throat swabs that have to be sent to a laboratory which are all becoming overwhelmed with increased volumes.  This delays prompt reporting of the results. An ideal option would be a self-contained testing system giving prompt results by not using swabs which many people feel are uncomfortable and irritating.

One such test is now being evaluated in Australia.  It has the advantage of allowing the patient to more comfortably provide the test sample by spitting into a container.  Health workers don’t have to wear personal protective equipment to administer the test, Other tests are being developed that allow the saliva sample to be tested outside of a laboratory by offering an at-home testing kit.  Evaluation of this method is still underway.  In one small unpublished test, the saliva test was found to identify as false negatives nearly a fourth of those tested who actually have the infection.  This suggests the concentration of the virus in saliva may not be as high as found by swabbing the nose and throat.  This current effort illustrates the dynamic research underway to find better test methods.  If authority is finally granted for such a test even with many false negatives, it would allow rapid, daily identification of individuals who test positive in groups such as school students and staff. This would reduce the number of swab tests for all the others who tested negative.