The COVID-19 pandemic changed daily life for most people around the world. Staying safe in the midst of a pandemic presents new challenges, but following experts’ guidelines is an effective way to protect your health. Talk to your doctor if you have specific health concerns and questions.
Q: Will the coronavirus ever go away?
A: The only virus humans have ever been able to completely eradicate is smallpox, so it’s not likely that physicians will ever succeed in completely eradicating COVID-19. Researchers believe that people may be able to catch COVID-19 again, even after being sick with it once.
Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
A: People sick with COVID-19 generally report symptoms including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste and/or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and range in severity from mild to severe. They usually appear between two and 14 days after exposure.
Q: Is there more than one strain of coronavirus?
A: Yes. COVID-19 variants are new strains of the virus, and doctors are now seeing several different variants of coronavirus. It’s possible that new strains would be able to re-infect people who had an earlier strain of the virus.
In addition, the coronavirus behind COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, is only one of a family of viruses that have existed for many years and have caused mild to severe respiratory illnesses.
Q: How is coronavirus spread?
A: COVID-19 spreads between people when an infected person comes into close contact with other people. Liquid particles ranging in size from droplets to aerosols spread from an infected person’s nose or mouth when speaking, breathing heavily, singing, coughing, or sneezing.
If an infected person spreads droplets or aerosols onto surfaces and other people touch those surfaces and then touch their mouths, eyes, or noses, they may become infected. People are most contagious about two days before symptoms develop and in the first days of the illness.
Q: What does the coronavirus do to our bodies?
A: In addition to the short-term symptoms of COVID, it can also have long-term effects. People with underlying health conditions and the elderly may be more likely to experience lingering symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and concentration problems. COVID-19 can also cause permanent damage to the lungs, heart, and brain.
Q: What are the recommendations on masks?
A: Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth whenever you’re in a public space is an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. A mask protects both the wearer and people nearby, but it is not a substitute for maintaining the standard social distancing space of six feet between you and others who are not in your household.
A mask should have at least two layers of fabric, and it should fit snugly against the face without gaps. A mask with a nose wire offers a more conformed fit on the face.
Q: Can kids get COVID-19?
A: Children catch COVID-19 less frequently than adults do, and they tend to have milder symptoms if they do catch it. Children who have underlying health conditions have a higher risk of becoming severely sick with COVID-19 if they catch it.
Q: What is the inflammatory illness affecting children?
A: Multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children is a rare and serious health condition that has been linked to COVID-19. Children will experience a fever and inflammation with this syndrome. If the fever and inflammation is accompanied by a rash, bloodshot eyes, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and confusion, parents should contact a doctor immediately.
Q: How can I help protect my body from illness?
A: The best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 and other illnesses are to wash your hands frequently, socially distance from people who aren’t in your household, avoid touching your face, wear a mask in public, and restrict travel whenever possible.
Q: How long do COVID-19 symptoms last?
A: COVID-19 symptoms last for about two weeks for people who have a mild case. Those with a severe case of COVID-19 might be sick for six weeks or longer. Some people experience viral persistence, remaining sick and contagious for a longer period of time or having symptoms that come and go.
Q: How do I care for someone with COVID-19?
A: If someone in your household begins showing symptoms of COVID-19, assume that they have the virus. Call the doctor to report the symptoms, and follow their instructions for testing. Maintain social distancing with the person, and wear masks when in the same room.
A mild or moderate virus will run its course, and most people are able to manage symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Watch for more serious symptoms such as chest pain, trouble breathing, confusion, and blue lips. If these symptoms appear, seek emergency care right away.
Q: When should I call my doctor?
A: It’s appropriate to call your doctor if you suspect that you have COVID-19. Your doctor will tell you how to proceed with testing and whether you need an appointment. If you experience severe symptoms such as chest pain or trouble breathing, seek emergency care immediately.
Q: What is pandemic fatigue, and how do I fight against it?
A: Pandemic fatigue is simply being weary of restrictions and precautions and desiring to return to more normal routines. People may begin feeling overly tired and even depressed if pandemic fatigue sets in.
If you have feelings of pandemic fatigue, remember that your actions have a ripple effect and that you may inadvertently spread the virus if you don’t remain vigilant. Look for ways you can connect with others while still maintaining social distance.
Q: Should I get a COVID-19 test before I travel?
A: If you have to travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you get tested between one and three days before you go. Assuming that you have a negative test, you can travel to your destination.
Upon return, have another COVID-19 test within three to five days. It’s recommended that you quarantine for ten days after traveling if you decide not to get tested.
Q: How do I stay safe if I go on vacation?
A: Wear masks and maintain social distance while you are on vacation. Wash your hands frequently, and bring hand sanitizer to use if you can’t wash your hands. Most hotels have adjusted operations to create a touchless experience for patrons.