Are people with asthma high-risk? What about pregnant women? Answers to your coronavirus questions.

Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, the State Health Director and the Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health and Human Services, joined ABC11 on Wednesday to answer questions about the novel coronavirus. Watch in the media player above.

Do you think we're going to get to a point in North Carolina where are hospitals are seeing too many patients and they can't provide adequate care and how is the state preparing for that?

All the things that we're putting into place now, all of the social distancing, that's exactly why we're doing that now so we want to dampen that curve to really decrease the demand on our hospitals and those scare resources so all of the things that we're doing now are to decrease the demand on our healthcare system.

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I've read that they test for the flu and only if it's negative do they then test for COVID-19. So is it possible that you have both at the same time? If that's the case, would you never get the test for COVID-19?
The first thing I want to reiterate is that there is still widespread flu in North Carolina. You are far more likely to have the flu than COVID-19 in North Carolina. Although theoretically possible to have both it would be very unlikely to have both and since it's far more likely... that you have the flu, that's why we're doing the flu test first.

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Just in the last 48 hours there's been a lot of talk especially on social media about ibuprofen vs. Tylenol if you're experiencing flu-like symptoms. What's going around on social media is that Tylenol is the better medicine to take? Can you separate fact from fiction?
That is very new data that was just coming out, I just saw that last night. So I think we'd need to learn a lot more, I'm not sure what those studies are showing. We'd have to learn a lot more but I did see that Tylenol might be a safer option but I think we're going to need to learn a lot more as we go forward.

We did a story yesterday about so many small businesses that are hurting right now because of social distancing and these orders from the state to perhaps close down or move to takeout or delivery. Will hair salons or barbershops be closing given that they're way closer to people than the recommendations advise?
Yeah we're getting a lot of those questions about non-essential businesses. Right now we're not recommending closure but we're continuing to assess and this is evolving and they are private businesses and they can certainly use their discretion and decide on their own but now we are not mandating closures of those types of businesses.

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Today we asked about pregnant women and about whether they are high-risk and the answer was yes. Also, is asthma a pre-existing condition in this case and how with asthma and allergies play into contracting the virus?
Let me just clarify the comment about pregnant women. Although we still need to learn a lot more about the risk of pregnant women and we're following the CDC guidelines, they're not technically added to that list of high risk people but the advice is that we have some extra vigilance around our pregnant women and we're still going to need to learn more specifically about our pregnant women. Right now what we're saying is that underlying health conditions including lung, heart and diabetes... so asthma could be part of that underlying lung condition. Allergies by itself isn't right now one of those high-risk conditions.
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