Maria Godoy

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

How long do you need to be exposed to someone with COVID-19 before you are at risk for being infected?

In a bid to protect the candidates from the coronavirus, the stage for Wednesday night's vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City will feature plexiglass barriers between Vice President Pence and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Concerns about viral spread are heightened in light of the outbreak in the White House.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says the coronavirus can be spread through airborne particles that can linger in the air "for minutes or even hours" — even among people who are more than 6 feet apart.

By now, it's become clear that the coronavirus pandemic is not gender neutral. While men are more likely to die from the virus itself, "in terms of the economic and social fallout, it's really women that are particularly affected," says Silke Staab, a research specialist with U.N. Women.

President Trump will be staying in the presidential suite at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the next few days, according to the White House.

The president's doctor released a written statement saying Trump is "is doing well," after testing positive for the coronavirus, adding that the president is "not requiring any supplemental oxygen."

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President Trump, who along with the first lady

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It's a grim roster of alerts. A woman, age 19, last spotted in July wearing sky blue jeans, a black sweater and black sneakers. A 16-year-girl missing since she left her home one morning in July. A 14-year-girl last seen heading to the supermarket at the end of June; she was wearing blue shoes.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a grant worth $7.5 million over five years to EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit that hunts emerging viruses. The award comes months after NIH revoked an earlier grant to EcoHealth, a move scientists widely decried as the politically motivated quashing of research vital to preventing the next coronavirus pandemic.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, mortality rates and life expectancy are far better for white Americans than they are for Black people during normal, non-pandemic years, according to an analysis published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a historic public health achievement, the 47 nations of the World Health Organization's Africa region were certified to be free of wild poliovirus on Tuesday.

The declaration comes four years after the continent reported its last case of wild poliovirus, in Nigeria, and 24 years after it launched an ambitious eradication campaign.

But the region's fight against polio isn't over — vaccine-derived polio still poses a threat.

How many children in the world have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead?

That's a pressing question that has had no definitive answer until now. About 1 in 3 children have been exposed to lead at levels shown to damage their health and cognitive development, according to a groundbreaking report that is the first to document the problem globally.

Israel Shippy doesn't remember much about having COVID-19 – or the unusual auto-immune disease it triggered – other than being groggy and uncomfortable for a bunch of days. He's a five-year-old, and would much rather talk about cartoons, or the ideas for inventions that constantly pop into his head.

"Hold your horses, I think I know what I'm gonna make," he says, holding up a finger in the middle of a conversation. "I'm gonna make something that lights up and attaches to things with glue, so if you don't have a flashlight, you can just use it!"

So you want to wear a face mask? Good call.

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that wearing face masks in public, even when you feel well, can help curb the spread of the coronavirus — since people can spread the virus even without showing symptoms. That's the main reason to wear a mask: to protect other people from you.

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