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Q&A | Mercy Health's chief clinical officer: 'I think already many of us have been exposed'

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James Kravec 032020
James Kravec

YOUNGSTOWN — At Mahoning Matters, we've gathered your questions about COVID-19.

Today, Dr. Jim Kravec, chief clinical officer at Mercy Health, provided some answers to the most common questions. 

We will continue to seek out experts who can help us protect ourselves and our families during this unprecedented health crisis. Please send additional coronavirus questions to

Mahoning Matters: Why is social distancing important?

Dr. Jim Kravec: Social distancing is absolutely the most important thing we can do to reduce the spike of the curve of everyone getting ill quickly. It absolutely is the most important thing we should do because it will reduce the spread from person to person all coming [to the hospital] at one time. And so I absolutely fully support what the Ohio Department of Health and the [Centers for Disease Control] is saying because it is the right focus. 

MM: Why can't we get more information about the locations and activities of people in the Mahoning Valley who tested positive?

JK: We really follow the recommendations of the CDC and the ODH, so we're doing exactly as they recommend as far as sourcing. The County Board of Health epidemiologists are really the folks who are handling this. ... I would argue then, it really doesn't matter. My point is this: I think already many of us have been exposed. Since so few people are being tested, it doesn't really matter--the fact that these few people have tested positive--because there are many more than that who are currently positive or don't know it. I think the answer is, it doesn't really change anything because we already have this other positive out there that we just don't know about yet. 

MM: When can someone who has tested positive for coronavirus be released from isolation?

JK: The [CDC] guidelines, as of today, would be seven days from the onset of symptoms until you can be officially released from isolation and an improvement of your respiratory symptoms — cough, shortness of breath — and 72 hours or three days of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication. 

Guidelines regarding coronavirus care can change as scientists learn more about the disease. Dr. Kravec recommends following the most current guidance of the CDC, which can be found at

MM: How is the virus transmitted?

JK: It's a droplet, so it's transmitted via droplet. When someone coughs, sneezes, talks, it's in the air. That's why we recommend social distancing. It can live on surfaces for a period of time. We think that's a range of a couple [of] hours, but we're still learning information on that. ... It can be killed on surfaces with cleansers and bleach, etc. 

MM: When will a vaccine be developed?

JK: From what I'm reading, it is in development, but probably another 12 to 18 months is what I'm hearing. It's not going to be out in the fall.  

MM: If someone in my home is sick with COVID-19, what protocol should I follow?

JK: As one person in the house has this, we have to assume that all of them have it. All of the folks in the house need to be kept together in isolation. 


Keep up to date on the COVID-19 pandemic here.