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John B. Coleman Library Ask A Librarian

COVID-19 & Novel Coronavirus Information: Frequently Asked Questions

A subject guide for PVAMU students, staff, faculty, and visitors on the disease COVID-19. Many valuable resources have been gathered in one place for reader access and convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Soap & water, alcohol (CDC recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol), and bleach are all effective deterrents against the coronavirus according to Dr. Stephen Morse of Columbia University Medical Center (as cited in Godoy, 2020). The importance also lies in how you clean. Focus on "cleaning surfaces that get touched frequently — such as kitchen counters and bathroom faucets — several times a day" (Dr. Trish Perl, as cited in Godoy, 2020).

As of April 3, 2020 the CDC recommends cloth face mask-wearing if you are going outside your home and in proximity to others not part of your household, but no one should hoard large quantities of high quality PPE and harm access opportunity for high-risk persons and front-line healthcare workers. Please read on for a more detailed explanation.

Until the end of March 2020, the short answer was— if you're sick, yes; if you're healthy, probably not. January through March 2020, the CDC did not recommend the general public use facemasks (Source), but that changed on Friday April 3, 2020. However, due to a supply crisis of PPE for front-line healthcare workers, it will be very hard for many people to obtain surgical or N95 masks. There are now many guides online and efforts across the world right now for the public to make cloth masks, both for themselves and frontline healthcare workers, but keep in mind that fabric and filter type are critical considerations. The public are also advised to NOT wear masks with valves due to their ineffectiveness.

To see the efforts of two of Prairie View A&M University's librarians to sew cloth masks for area hospitals along with a video on how to make masks yourself, go here.

Experts agree that wearing a mask is a good idea if you are infected, but know that many carriers are asymptomatic or experience very mild symptoms, so by wearing a mask, you can reduce the chances that you'll unknowingly infect others (Source).

The spread of COVID-19 has resulted in price-gouging by unscrupulous sellers and scammers pushing products making false coronavirus claims (Source). Texas residents are encouraged to report price-gouging with the Attorney General of Texas at "How to Spot and Report Price Gouging.". The hoarding of medical PPE supplies by those without immediate need may impact the ability of the sick and frontline healthcare workers to take the necessary precautions as manufacturers are reporting a surge in demand and challenges in filling orders (Source).


Washing your hands frequently with soap & water (it doesn't have to be antibacterial soap) for at least 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand gels according to Dr. Edith Bracho Sanchez of Columbia University Medical Center. He also suggests everyone in the house start a new habit today: Wash your hands as soon as you walk through the door (Source). You should also avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose (Godoy) although that can be very difficult, so wearing masks in public can help you remember to stop doing this.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (but in some cases have taken longer to appear): fever, cough, and shortness of breath (Source).

If you are in acute physiological distress, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you are not in immediate danger, but suspect that you may be infected, please call your doctor or your nearest medical provider as soon as possible (Source) for advice. Experts do not advise persons with suspected cases of COVID-19 travel to doctors offices, clinics, or emergency rooms without warning unless there is urgent need so that they can appropriately prepare for your arrival and advise you by phone or web conference first.

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild flu-like symptoms up to severe breathing difficulty and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases (Source). The current evidence is that most cases (~80%) of COVID-19 appear to be mild (Source), which in this context means they do not require hospitalization. ​If you are pregnant, please see this specific information page on the CDC's website. If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact a healthcare professional for advice.

The best estimate is approximately February 2021, but possibly longer (Source), however there are variable estimates floating around by different medical experts and public officials and we should all recognize the timeline and projections remain fluid.

If you have a question about the C.A.R.E.S. Act passed in April 2020, check out this LibGuide from Distance Services Librarian E. Jean Brumfield.

Page Sources

Achenbach, J., Sun, L. H., & McGinley, L. (2020, March 30). CDC considering recommending general public wear face mask coverings in public. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Asmelash, L. (2020, March 1). The surgeon general wants Americans to stop buying face masks. CNN. Retrieved from

Attorney General of Texas. (n.d.) How to spot and report price gouging. Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas. Retrieved from

CDC. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Healthcare Supply of Personal Protective Equipment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

CDC. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

CDC. (2020). Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from 

Douglas, M. (2020, March 27). PVAMU librarians create surgical masks for Beaumont health center in need. PVAMU. Retrieved from

Duarte, F. (2020, March 17).  How to avoid touching your face so much. BBC. Retrieved from 

Fisher, D. & Heymann, D. (2020, February 28). Q&A: The novel coronavirus outbreak causing COVID-19. BMC Medicine, 18(57). doi:10.1186/s12916-020-01533-w

Fritz, A. (2020, June 28). Why simple cloth masks without valves are better at fighting the spread of covid-19. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Godoy, M. (2020, January 29). Face Masks: What Doctors Say About Their Role In Containing Coronavirus. NPR. Retrieved from

Godoy, M. (2020, February 26). A Guide: How To Prepare Your Home For Coronavirus. NPR. Retrieved from

Heaney, K. (2020, February 28). All I want to do is touch my face. The Cut. Retrieved from

Parker-Pope, T. (2020, April 5). What’s the Best Material for a Mask? The New York Times. Retrieved from 

Piper, K. (2020, March 2). It’s not overreacting to prepare for coronavirus. Here’s how. Vox. Retrieved from

Porter, J. (2020, February 28). Amazon has barred a million products for making false coronavirus claims. The Verge. Retrieved from

Stanford University Environmental Health & Safety. (2020, January 24). Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Retrieved from

John B. Coleman Library
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