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What will the "new normal" look like? Do I still have to wear a mask? Doctor answers your coronavirus questions

What does reopening the U.S. look like?
Doctor answers your questions on what reopening the U.S. may look like 07:03

With President Trump announcing a three-phase plan to reopening the economy, many Americans are wondering what a post-lockdown life might look like. Senior medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula joins "CBS This Morning" to answer questions sent in by viewers about what the "new normal" will be, and what coronavirus precautions we should continue to take.

See her answers below:

Q: Generally speaking, what might the new normal look like when we begin this phased reopening?

Narula: It's going to mean distancing, but a little bit of freedom. So the first important thing that they be recommended is that vulnerable populations continue to shelter in place. For the rest of us who may venture out, it's important to maintain that maximal distance between others, and avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. When you look at other social gathering-type events, whether it's at a movie theater or at a restaurant, those types of events are going to be allowed as long as you're able to maintain maximum social distance. That's the same for gyms. Interestingly bars are not going to be allowed to open in this phase one. Schools that have been closed should remain closed. 

When we're talking about the work force, workers can begin to slowly go back in phases. Maybe 20% of the work force, then 40%, then 80%. And also they're encouraging telework for that phase one process, as well. Limited-to-no visits to nursing facilities and hospitals. So those are really going to continue to be prohibited. And then minimizing nonessential travel. 

Q: We aren't sure how many Americans have the illness, because of a lack of adequate testing. Also, reports from South Korea suggest that people who have had it may be able to get it a second time. With those two facts in mind, how worried should we be about a COVID-19 resurgence?

Narula: Well, I think we have to be careful. You heard us talk about the need for testing so that we don't encounter a situation where we open up and once again we're seeing lots of cases. When you're talking about these cases of "reinfection" that the Korean CDC has reported, most of the experts that we've talked to have said that it is unlikely that those are true reinfections. It would be very unlikely to get infected and within four, eight or 12 weeks get reinfected. So those were probably false negative tests. Negative either because of the way the test was collected or processed. 

This is different, however, from a situation when you're looking out six months or a year. In those cases, if you did not develop full immunity, you may be able to get reinfected. This is what time is going to tell us. There may be some individuals who don't mount a very strong antibody response. So we'll have to see. 

Q: If you fully recovered from the virus, should you still wear a face mask?

Narula: Yes... The CDC recommends that even if you've recovered, when you venture out, you should continue to wear those face masks. Also important in terms of coming out of your own isolation - if you yourself were sick, you want to follow those guidelines of fever-free for 72 hours, lessening of your symptoms and either two negative tests, 24 hours apart, or seven days since the first onset of symptoms. 

Q: Should runners and bikers who are exercising in the park also wear masks?

Narula: If you are living somewhere that is remote or desolate and you're on a trail where no one else is around, it's probably fine to run or bike or walk without a mask. If you are, like we are in New York City, where you're going to encounter other runners, bikers or walkers, you do want to go ahead and wear a mask. 

One of the recommendations is something called a "buff" which runners know about. It's moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and it's kind of a fabric that you can put over your mouth. You want to try to run or bike at off-peak times, and you may want to increase the distance from six feet to 10 or 12 feet from other people, just because of wind and the heavy breathing that you may be doing. It's possible that those droplets could travel farther.

Q: Should we be wiping down groceries, mail or packages that enter our home?

Narula: The thinking is that it's very unlikely that this is a real high source of transmission. Theoretically, you could potentially touch something that someone else has sneezed or coughed on and then those droplets, you would contact them on your hands, you would touch your face, eyes, or nose, and can get infected that way. 

There was a study that was reported last month that said that the virus is able to live on cardboard for about 24 hours, plastic and stainless steel for two to three days. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's infectious at that point. So if you really do want to take precautions, when you bring your groceries in, you can wipe them down, change the packaging, wash your hands and disinfect the area. But gloves, not really necessary. 

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