What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms are similar to the flu or pneumonia and can include a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
COVID-19 typically causes mild symptoms, and the vast majority of people will recover fully from it. However, in some cases these symptoms may develop into more serious problems, such as severe breathlessness.
The CDC recommends you call your doctor if you develop these symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or recently have traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.
Who is at risk for COVID-19?
According to the CDC, for most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low, as this virus currently is not widespread in the United States. The following groups of people are at higher risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus:
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported, with an increase in risk depending on the location.
- Health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring, with an increase in risk depending on the location.
The CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.
Older people and those with pre-existing conditions — such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension and cancer — are at higher risk of a severe and potentially fatal case of the virus. If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is especially important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.
What should someone do if they think they have symptoms of COVID-19?
If someone has symptoms of a respiratory infection such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, please contact your health care provider and alert them of your symptoms. They will direct you to the most appropriate level of care.
How do I know if I need to be tested?
If your health care provider determines you need testing for COVID-19, they will contact the appropriate county health department. The health department will arrange for testing if they deem it is necessary and appropriate.
Should I be concerned about attending large group gatherings?
According to the World Health Organization, the disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. Stay home when you are sick. The best way to stop the spread of this disease or any illness is to stay away from heavily populated areas like work or school or social events when ill.
It is important to remember that COVID-19 typically causes mild symptoms, and the vast majority of people will recover fully from it. Adults who are 70 years of age or older and people with serious illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension and cancer are more vulnerable to COVID-19. The decision to attend a mass gathering needs to be an individual one where you weigh the risk and benefits of attending such an event, taking into consideration the type of event and one’s individual health status. You may want to consult with your healthcare provider before attending an event.
In an effort to provide information related to COVID-19, listed below are common “myths” surrounding this condition.
At Silver Cross, we will continue to provide unrivaled healthcare for our patients by isolating based on symptoms, wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, and practicing good hand hygiene.
Myth #1: COVID-19 is the most dangerous virus ever.
Fact: While preventing the spread of COVID-19 is very important, more than 80 percent of those who acquire the infection will experience mild symptoms. However, because we work in healthcare, and many of our patients are members of at-risk populations (including seniors and those with compromised immune systems), it is our collective responsibility to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure and spread.
Myth #2: Healthy people can prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask.
Fact: Masks are most useful when used by sick people to stop the spread to healthy people. If you are healthy, you do not need to wear a mask unless you are doing a specific task that puts you at risk of exposure to droplets (for example: a nurse caring for sick patients). We need to save mask supplies for these types of circumstances when they are most needed.
Myth #3: Lining masks with paper towels makes them work better.
Fact: It may seem like a “thicker” mask will work better, but lining masks with paper towels actually compromise their fit, reduces their effectiveness and can make the spread of COVID-19 more likely.
Myth #4: Wearing gloves at all times prevents the spread of COVID-19.
Fact: Fact: This is another action that can actually make the spread of COVID-19 more likely. If the virus comes into contact with gloves, it can spread just as easily as if it were on your hands — and, if you’re wearing gloves, you are less likely to take steps that really do prevent COVID-19’s spread: washing your hands properly with soap or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Myth #5: I can make my own prevention solution with a recipe I found on the internet.
Fact: Garlic, sesame oil, and other foods have no prophylactic effect on COVID-19. The best ways to prevent the spread of the virus are social distancing and washing your hands properly with soap or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
What is “social distancing,” and how does it apply to the workplace?
In addition to proper hand-washing/hand hygiene, another common recommendation to slow the spread of COVID-19 is “social distancing.” What does this mean? Broadly, social distancing means reducing person-to-person contact whenever possible, to at least a six-foot (two-meter) radius between you and others.
How does social distancing translate to a workplace environment? Consider taking the following steps:
- Do not shake hands.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often, especially if you are in a common work station or use a shared phone.
- Avoid being in confined spaces with others, like supply closets, pantries, and rooms with printers.
Myth #6: Spraying your body down with alcohol or chlorine, or swallowing bleach, can kill the new coronavirus
Fact: The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that while there is evidence that chemical disinfectants, such as those containing bleach or chlorine, can kill COVID-19 on surfaces, the products will not ward off the virus when used on human skin. What's more, WHO warns that using those chemicals on your skin can be "harmful."
Myth #7: Pets can become infected with and spread the new coronavirus
Fact: While researchers believe that COVID-19 originated in animals, both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO says there is no evidence suggesting that companion animals, such as dogs and cats, can be a source of infection for humans. However, both CDC and WHO caution that you should continue to wash your hands after contact with pets or animals to prevent the general spread of bacteria. CDC also notes that, if you are infected with COVID-19, you should avoid contact with pets as you would other humans, as an extra precaution.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided additional myth-busters here.
How to combat coronavirus misinformation
It's important that we take emerging infectious diseases seriously and take precautions to protect ourselves. However, it's also vital that we understand the facts about new viruses and ensure we're not spreading misinformation that cause people to be overly fearful. Social media companies are trying to do their part by removing content that contains unproven information about the new coronavirus, and public health experts are pushing resources that dispel myths and highlight facts about the new virus. You, too, can take action by ensuring you're using reliable sources for information regarding the virus, sharing factual resources, and flagging misinformation when you see it.