Common COVID-19 Questions

Our team of environmental pediatricians has put together some information to help keep your home and family safe and healthy.

Media coverage of COVID-19 is extensive

It’s hard to find a traditional or social media outlet that doesn’t focus on COVID. There is always new information developing. Sometimes the information is partial, misleading, incorrect or conflicting.

Uncertainty and information overload can create confusion and stress

Making the right decisions for you and your family is difficult without accurate information, and can add to an already stressful situation.

There are good answers to many of your questions

The purpose of masking is to protect yourself and others from transmitting coronavirus. Physical distancing is essential, and masking can provide additional protection.

Medical professionals use special masks, such as N95 respirators. Because these are in short supply, the public is requested to use other types of mask, including homemade versions.

Currently New York State requires all persons to wear a face covering in public places where physical distancing of at least six feet is not maintained. (Exceptions are for children two years old and under, and persons who are not able to “medically tolerate” masking.)

NYC Health: Face Coverings: Frequently Asked Questions
NYS Health Advisory: COVID-19 and the Use of Cloth Face Coverings
New York Times: A User’s Guide to Face Masks (may require login)


New York State, Office of the Governor, Executive Order No. 202.17: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency. Available from: [Accessed 17 April, 2020].

Opening windows is generally recommended.

Opening windows is one way to increase ventilation. Ventilation is good because it allows new air to come into a room and old air to go out. The old air is more likely to concentrate things like viral particles.

You might choose to keep your windows closed if you have seasonal allergies because the pollen outside can make your symptoms worse when it comes inside. In that case, one way to increase ventilation is to use an air conditioner that has a “recirculate” mode that keeps the indoor air moving without bringing in outdoor air.


World Health Organization, Ventilation and airborne diseases.  [Accessed 22 April, 2020].

Atkinson J, Chartier Y, Pessoa-Silva CL, et al., editors. Natural Ventilation for Infection Control in Health-Care Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. Annex C, Respiratory droplets. Available from:

We do not recommend air purifiers to reduce COVID-19 exposure at home.

Although some air filters or purifiers may be able to remove very small virus particles from the air, there is little evidence that live COVID-19 virus is present in the air at levels that can cause infection.

The best ways to reduce transmission of the virus are to remain physically distant from those not in your household, wear a mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, and safely disinfect high-touch surfaces (door knobs, light switches, etc).

Air purifiers can effectively remove indoor air pollutants like dust, pollen, and some gases. If you do choose to use an air purifier, choose one with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter with a MERV or CADR rating. We do not recommend PECO or PCO filters as these have been shown to be less effective than HEPA filters. In addition, make sure the air purifier does not generate ozone (because ozone can irritate the lungs).

Consumer Reports Recommendations for Air Purifiers


Environmental Protection Agency, Will an air cleaner or air purifier help protect me and my family from COVID-19 in my home?.  [Accessed 28 May, 2020].

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