When you need to know what's happening with the coronavirus, join KICKS 105.5 every Thursday morning. Dr. Rajeev Fernando answers your COVID-19 questions.

Dr. Rajeev Fernando is one of New York's Top Infectious Disease Specialists and this week, he answers your COVID-19 questions about who we should believe when it comes to wearing masks, also what's "Long COVID", and he expands on his comments from last week, that COVID-19 is here to stay.

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First off this week let's touch on something you said last week that really got a lot of reaction from our listeners and Facebook readers. You stated that COVID and mask's were here to stay, for those that were freaking out can you explain again why you think the virus will be with us for a while, at least in seasonal form.

"We don't have any studies in the United States which talks about transmission. We have some studies in the U.K. and Israel that talks about decresing transmission, and it shows us that getting vaccinated decreases transmission by about 89%. We're able to use their data because they have effective contact tracing, which we don't have here in the states. 89% is not good enough to eliminate the virus, that's why wearing masks is important. Moving foprward I think most American's will have to continue to wear masks. It's good hygiene, and most people want to stay protected. The U.S. accounts for 4.2 percent of the world population, but accounts for 20 percent of COVID deaths. In certain parts of the world people wear masks all the time, it's not going to be compulsory, but I certainly think maks will be around for the next year, and possibly into 2022 as well".

That's a great segue for our first listener question from Ronnie who's in New Milford, she wants to know why are there so many opinions from doctors about wearing masks. Some say they work, while others say they don't. Who are we suppose to believe?

"That's a great question, and really take it to the bank, wearing masks are critical. Now we've seen the number of cases going down across the country, and that cannot be attibuted to vaccines alone, so I think the rest of the country, whether your in a blue state or red state, people are starting to embrace this, and I think it's a very important factor of why the burdon of disease has gone down, so I can't overstate that wearing masks and social distancing contributes to the situation".

Beth Ann is from Wingdale and she say's that she has heard doctors talking about something called "Long COVID", what can you tell us about this?

"These are symptoms which could last a little bit longer. I feel personally that people who have experienced COVID-19 lung disease are going to have some residual damage in the future. There will also be a long term pandemic regards to mental health, more and more people will suffer from anxiety, and depression, this is going to be with us for a while. We're learning more and more, just two weeks ago I described to the public about the characteristics of COVID tongue, which we are just starting to see. We're learning more and more each day. Remember we haven't seen a virus of this magnitude since back in 1918, so this is all very new to us and I'm very certain that with all we've learned so far, we will be prepared for the next one, if and when it comes our way".

NEED A FREE MASK?

Dr. Rajeev is offering free masks if you need some. There's no charge, and he'll even pick up the shipping charge. Just visit maskupearth.org and place your order. 

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.