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Popular COVID FAQs in 2022: Outdoor risks, boosters, 1-way masking, faint test lines

Print a poster version of this comic to hang up on your fridge or give away to friends. <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/13ggzz9qS2c6rQCXg3VCUo9iip3i1XtWG/view?usp=sharing">Download the poster here.</a>
Malaka Gharib/ NPR
Print a poster version of this comic to hang up on your fridge or give away to friends. Download the poster here.

The third anniversary of the pandemic draws nigh. We've answered many frequently (and even infrequently) asked questions about COVID-19.

Can you catch it from a pet?

Can you catch it in a swimming pool?

Does booze affect vaccine effectiveness?

Here's a sampling of this year's FAQs that remain relevant for current COVID concerns.

Coronavirus FAQ: I got COVID. Then I got it again. What's the deal with reinfection?

You got sick with COVID so you figured you were done with the virus for a while. Then you began feeling a scratchy throat and a runny nose, took a home test just in case — and that second line blazed red once again. Is it possible to get COVID again just a few months or even weeks after recovering from a case?

Coronavirus FAQ: Does a faint line on a self-test mean I'm barely contagious?

Say you caught COVID-19 and after 10 days are still testing positive. But the line on the rapid test is really faint compared to a week ago. What's the deal? Exactly how contagious are you?

Coronavirus FAQ: Why are some folks hacking home COVID tests by swabbing their throat?

If you've used a do-it-yourself COVID-19 home test in the U.S. — the "antigen" rapid tests that promise results in 15 minutes or so — you know the drill. You typically swirl a cotton swab around in your nostrils, mix it with some liquid and then drop it on a test strip to await the results: positive or negative for the coronavirus. But there has been an online debate about where to stick that cotton swab — perhaps the throat and/or cheek in addition to the nose? Why did this hack emerge — and is there any medical science to back it up?

Coronavirus (booster) FAQ: Can it cause a positive test? When should you get it?

So you got your booster. If you took a COVID test, would you test positive because of the shot?

Coronavirus FAQ: I'm a one-way masker. What strategy will give me optimal protection?

It can be lonely out there as the solo masker in a sea of exposed chins and noses. Will you still get protection if you're the only one in a public space with a mask?


Coronavirus FAQ: Can I get COVID outdoors? (With printable poster on how to cut risks)

Studies conducted prior to the arrival of the omicron variant show that being outside greatly reduces your risk of infection with the coronavirus. One review of studies concluded that the odds of indoor transmission are almost 19 times higher than outdoor transmission. Does omicron play by the same rules?

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.