We know you have a lot of questions and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, that's why, every Thursday, Dr. Rajeev Fernando is here to answer your COVID-19 questions.

There's been a lot of talk this week about how safe it's going to be when it comes time for the kids to head back to school, and can the coronavirus be transmitted through air conditioning systems in your home or at the office.

Dr. Rajeev Fernando, one of New York's top infectious disease specialists, addressed these issues on this weeks segment.

Michele in New Milford asks: Is it uncommon for children to spread the virus, do you think it will be safe for them to return to school in the fall?

"This is a great question, children really don't get infected as much, and the reason is, there's a receptor, called the ACE receptor, and there are much less of these receptors in kids, as opposed to an adult, so in children it makes it difficult for them to get infected. Children can carry the virus, they don't get sick or infected, but they can pass it to adults, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems. It's a situation where they can infect others, and not even realize they are passing it along. The teachers, the school staff, custodians, all kinds of administrators who are directly involved in their care are at the highest risk in the schools".

Gretchen from Pawling asks: Since we've learned the virus can be transmitted when it's airborne, can COVID-19 be spread through air conditioning systems?

"We haven't seen that many infections with the recent protests where you had massive groups of people all together because it was outside, it's the fresh air factor, but we do see people, once they come inside, you know one person comes to a bar and infects a number of people. The problem is, when you have restaurants or schools, the ventilation is what we call a split unit air conditioner. The split unit air conditioner tends to circulate the air within the room, or up and down, or uses the same air to go to another room, and there's really no contact with exterior air, and that's the big problem. Anytime, as we mentioned earlier, if you want to restart school, or reopen a bar or restaurant, you have to make sure your ventilation system is appropriate where your having a constant exchange of air, and some of the air is expelled outside. Another cheaper solution is to open the windows. You'll have to sacrifice heat for the air conditioning, but keeping the window open is very, very important. I urge any business, before you reopen, examine this issue so your patrons know, and parents, before your kids go back to school. Talk to the principal, or if you do intend to dine indoors, talk to the restaurant manager and find out what type of ventilation system they are using, and if there'a a good exchange process of air. This pandemic is far from over, and people in the tri-state area need to keep doing what they have been doing, and of course wear that mask".

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