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What is Corona Virus?
What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
How Can I Protect Myself and My Loved Ones?
How Do I Care for a Loved One or Myself?
What is Physical Distancing?
Physical distancing is a strategy that appears very effective in slowing the spread of a virus. By keeping a “clear zone” around and between people (roughly 6 feet) the transmission of droplets from someone speaking, singing, coughing and/or sneezing becomes less likely. The most common form of transmission of COVID-19 occurs after you have been exposed to these droplets and you bring your hands to your face. This is why frequent hand washing and using sanitizer is so important. Transmission between family members living in close quarters is common and may be the greatest source of transmission.
How Do I Know if I Am Contagious?
It is probably better to assume you are contagious until you are able to be tested. While tests have been distributed throughout the U.S. and other countries, the goal of testing everyone is not yet within reach. New tests are being developed that will provide accurate results in shorter periods of time, but these are currently not available.
What is the Course of the Virus?
Now almost a year into this pandemic, scientists and health professionals around the world are better able to identify how this virus enters our system, multiplies and impacts our immune system, and resolves. Researchers continue to uncover new aspects of the virus, and providers are refining treatment protocols.
There is no single presentation of COVID. Some people who test positive report having fever, cough, and shortness of breath or feelings of tightness of the chest. Some have mild versions of these symptoms and other more intense. Some lose a sense of taste or smell while others have no symptoms at all. People who have medical conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, immune disorders and any problems with their lungs (including currently smoking, vaping, or having smoked in the past) may be more at risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19 that might require hospitalization, intubation, or ventilation.
Does Everybody Who Tests Positive for COVID-19 Need Hospitalization?
The answer here is decidedly, “No!” In terms of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, approximately 80% get better and never have to go to the hospital. Their symptoms can be managed using prescribed medications to treat infections or over the counter medications such as Tylenol to manage fever. This is very reassuring!
What is essential is to quarantine for 10 -14 days to insure that others are not exposed needlessly if you are positive, whether you have symptoms or not.
What Sources of Information Can I Trust?
The primary sources of information that are driving research and treatment of COVID-19 are the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Both these organizations collaborate in collecting information and sharing it with the scientific and research community around the globe. Researchers and policy makers depend on WHO and the CDC to arrive at treatment protocols and policies that insure best practices and good health standards for all of us.
Here in the U.S., state and local health departments work in collaboration with the Public Health Service under the direction of the Surgeon General of the United States in collecting information and monitoring illnesses. Public Health officers have broad powers of enforcement when it comes to keeping people in a state healthy. To find out what is happening in your state in terms of the COVID-19 response, google “[STATE_NAME] public health department” and follow the links to COVID-19, or do a similar search for your city or county public health department.
Many universities and research institutions are working on vaccines, treatment protocols, and diagnostic tests. These institutions can be a useful source of information through their publications.
What Sources of Information Should I Question?
Sadly, there are always scammers and hucksters who will take advantage of people’s lack of information and fears to make claims for miracle cures and magical preparations that will protect you. Remember that just because someone calls themselves an expert, it doesn’t mean they actually have the experience and knowledge you seek. Today anyone can publish a webpage or produced a video. Rule of thumb — if it sounds too good to be true, it is probably a scam.
As of November, 2020,
- There are current four vaccines that have completed Phase I and II trials. One has made application to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval, and if approved, may be available for distribution as early as Spring, 2021.
- No combination of foods or supplements will “cure” COVID-19 or make you immune.
- Health experts and experts in immunology are all recommending that aging adults limit exposure to others during the holidays by not attending group gatherings (6 or more), always wearing a mask outside and, if others are coming into your home (e.g., caregivers) wearing a mask indoors as well, frequently washing your hands, and maintaining physical distancing.