Frequently Asked Questions

What's a respiratory droplet?

Ever seen someone cough or sneeze who doesn’t cover their mouth? You’ve likely seen a spray of fluids come out of their mouth. Gross, we know. If that person is infected with something like COVID-19, all those little drops can contain infection or viruses; thankfully, this spray only travels a short distance before settling. That is why social distancing and handwashing frequently and thoroughly is so important! Recently published data shows:

  • Respiratory drops can remain in the air and infect someone for up to 30 minutes
  • Surfaces may remain contaminated for up to 3 days

When can a person spread this virus?

Right now, we believe that people are most contagious when they are experiencing symptoms and at their sickest. Some spread may be possible when someone doesn’t have any symptoms. There are some reports of this happening, but this does not seem to be the main way the virus spreads.

Why is social distancing so important?

Social distancing can reduce and slow the spread of this virus. By keeping 6 feet between people, you reduce your risk of becoming sick yourself. If you avoid getting sick, you can also protect others, like family members who may be at a higher risk than you. Juan Delcan, a visual artist, created the animation, below, to show how social distancing can help slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. As you can see, without proper social distance the virus can spread rapidly.

How do I know if I'm at an increased risk of becoming more sick because of COVID-19?

The CDC is currently listing the following people as being at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of any age with the following:
    • Chronic Lung Disease: moderate to severe asthma, emphysema, COPD
    • Diabetes Mellitus: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational (related to pregnancy)
    • Cardiovascular (or heart) Disease
    • Chronic Renal (or kidney) Disease, particularly if not well-controlled
    • Chronic Liver Disease, particularly if not well-controlled
    • Immunocompromised Condition including but not limited to:
      • Cancer Treatment
      • Bone Marrow or Organ Transplant
      • Immune Deficiencies
      • Poorly controlled HIV or AIDS
      • Prolonged use of corticosteroids (like prednisone) or other immune weakening medications
    • Severe obesity
    • Pregnancy (people who are pregnant are known to be at risk with severe viral illness)
    • Current or Former Smoker

I have to go to the grocery store! What should I do?

Be careful and be smart. If you can, wipe down and disinfect your shopping cart. Use hand sanitizer while in the store and be sure to avoid touching your face. When you return home, wash your hands. If you’re very worried or at risk, you may want to disinfect products as you unpack them before putting them away. Everyone should dispose of one time use bags immediately or wipe down reusable bags. Wash your hands immediately after you finish putting away your groceries.

Here is a helpful resource from Harvard Public Health

When was COVID-19 discovered?

For many people, it might feel like you just started hearing about this virus and disease. Here’s a helpful timeline to understand the when this started and how it spread:

What do I do if I feel sick or think I have COVID-19?

  • Stay Home, Call a Doctor. If you have mild symptoms, stay home. Do not go to work, school, public places, use public transportation, or be close to people. If you have very bad symptoms and feel you need to be seen by a doctor, call before you go. Describe what your symptoms are and listen to the instructions. Call your doctor before you go anywhere. If it is a medical emergency, call 911 and tell them your symptoms and possible risks (like recent travel history or contact with someone who has the virus).
  • Know your risks. Have you had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19? What are your symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing)? Do you have a chronic disease that might make you at risk of becoming more sick? It’s important you share this information, to the best of your ability, with the medical professional you consult.
  • Listen to your doctor. Based on the information you tell your doctor, you will be told what to do next. Next steps may include:
    • Keeping track of your symptoms and informing your doctor’s office if you have new or worsening symptoms.
    • Being seen by a doctor to be evaluated in person. If you can, go alone to your appointment to avoid exposing anyone else.
    • Going to a clinic or hospital.
  • Protect Others.
    • If you need to leave your home to be seen by a doctor, wear a mask to avoid infecting other people. Healthy people should not wear masks but if you are sick you want to reduce exposure to other people.
    • Sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow or use a tissue and throw it away immediately.
    • Distance yourself from others and following instructions for isolation or quarantine.
  • Stay Calm. It can be really scary to think you are sick with a contagious illness or to be sick with a new illness. Every day, throughout our country and world, we are learning more about COVID-19. We are all in this together.

Can I get COVID-19 from touching a surface?

Yes, it is possible a person can get COVID-19 if they touch a surface with the virus on it and then tough their face, mouth, nose, or eyes. New data suggests the virus may be able to live on contaminated surface for up to 3 days. That’s why washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after touching something, is so important. Here is a helpful video that explains how this can happen

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Most people who become sick with COVID-19 feel similar symptoms to the flu: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Most people will recover from these symptoms with rest and proper care at home (drinking lots of fluids, taking over-the-counter medicine as instructed by your doctor, etc.); recovery may take several days, or even a week or two. Be sure to call your doctor if you feel sick and follow their specific instruction. Remember, everybody’s health is different!

Some people are risk of having more severe, or worse, symptoms with this infection. Those people at a higher-risk will need to monitor themselves closely and, if they start to experience any sort of flu-like symptoms, should call their doctor’s office immediately, even if symptoms are mild.

If I become sick and must be isolated, how will I know when I have recovered?

It’s important to follow CDC guidelines, and listen to your doctor and local health department to decide when to stop home isolation. According to the CDC, you have recovered if it has been at least 7 days since your symptoms started, if you have not had a fever for 3 days and haven’t been taking fever-reducing medicine, and if symptoms like cough and shortness of breath have improved. But again, even the CDC says you should listen to your doctor and local health officials as every community is experiencing COVID-19 differently.

Last updated on September 8th, 2023 at 01:42 pm

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