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Macon doctor answers your COVID-19 questions

He discusses possible vaccines, what makes COVID-19 different from other viruses, and how to talk to your kids about the outbreak

MACON, Ga. — 13WMAZ combed through hundreds of your Facebook comments and notes from your calls to the newsroom. Then we took the most frequent ones to Dr. Lance Slade.

He's a Macon pediatrician and has been following the COVID-19 outbreak closely.

Viewer Chris Simpson asked, 'What makes this coronavirus so different from the other sicknesses we've seen out there that have killed more people?'

"COVID-19 to this point, we're seeing that it's twice as infectious as the flu and seems to be having a higher duration," Slade said. "We've seen studies that show it can live as long as nine days on surfaces, and a higher incidence of lower respiratory symptoms meaning like pneumonia, respiratory distress, as opposed to what you see with the flu."

But there are easy steps you can take to limit your exposure.

"Social distancing, not eating out. You know, things like that where you're sitting around big groups of people, wash your hands well," Slade said. "If you sneeze, use Kleenex or your elbow -- not sneezing in your hand. If someone's ill, respect that space. Don't get too close."

Joseph Weaver wanted to know if, and when, a vaccine for COVID-19 might become available.

"There's different timing on things like that. What we're hearing right now, there will be a vaccine, they're already at first trials on that right now, but typically it takes a year with these trials. So, we're talking probably next spring according to that time frame," Slade said.

"Unless there's a way to ramp it up that we have yet to hear about, we're looking at this time next year once you get through human trials and be able to mass produce it in such amounts that we would be able to get it out," he said.

Slade also gave tips for parents to talk to their kids about coronavirus outbreak.

The key, he said, was "using that for a positive and not anxiousness."

"Sometimes it's 'hey, let's work on not touching our face' and telling them, 'hey, when you touch your face you spread germs,'" Slade said. "It's learning how do you not spread stuff to somebody else."

Slade says telling your child why spreading germs is bad is also important.

"Talking about getting them sick," he said. "If they can see it in the real world I think that helps those kids."

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FACTS NOT FEAR | At 13WMAZ, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the coronavirus. To see our full coverage, visit our site section here: www.13wmaz.com/Coronavirus.