Answers to common patient questions about COVID-19 from the CDC and WHO, and more patient resources.
- COVID-19 grants immunity remains unknown.
- People are probably not getting reinfected, and any positive results on retesting are more likely a result of residual viral RNA.
- The FDA’s relaxed standards and emergency use authorization for antibody testing was “a disservice to us” because of potential cross-reactivity with other coronavirus antibodies.
- For antibody testing to work in a disease that affects 2%-3% of the population, we need a test with at least 99.7% specificity.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
“The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing” (1).
HOW DOES IT SPREAD?
“People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. 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. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets” (1). “Many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill” (1).
WHO IS AT MOST RISK?
“Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. These people who may be at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness, includes: Older adults. People who have serious underlying medical conditions like: Heart disease. Diabetes. Lung disease” (2).
WHAT IS THE RISK TO PREGNANT WOMEN?
“We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness.” (3).
SHOULD I WEAR A FACE MASK IF I’M NOT SICK?
“If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely” (1).
HOW LONG DOES IT STAY ON SURFACES?
“Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others” (1).
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
“Clean your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc. Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)” (4).
WHAT CAN I DO FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH?
“Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row” (5).
HOW CAN I SUPPORT MY CHILDREN?
“Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand. Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you. Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand. Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities. Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members” (6).
ARE PETS AT RISK OF GETTING SICK?
“At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.” “If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy” (7).
- World Health Organization, “Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19),” March 9, 2020. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Are You at Higher Risk for Severe Illness?” March 20, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Pregnancy & Breastfeeding,” March 17, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Steps to Prevent Getting Sick,” March 17, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/get-ready.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Older Adults,” March 18, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications/older-adults.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Stress and Coping,” March 14, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Animals and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” March 16, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/animals.html
- SAMHSA, “Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event:” https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/pdf/Coping_with_Disaster.pdf
- SAMHSA, “Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health: Tips For Social Distancing, Quarantine, And Isolation During An Infectious Disease Outbreak:”https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/tips-social-distancing-quarantine-isolation-031620.pdf
- SAMHSA, “Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks:” https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma14-4885.pdf
- CDC, “What to Do If You Are Sick:” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/sick-with-2019-nCoV-fact-sheet.pdf
- SAMHSA, “Caring for Children in a Disaster: Helping Children Cope,” https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/helping-children-cope.html
- CDC, “Disinfecting your home if someone is sick,” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/disinfecting-your-home.html
- WHO, “Stay physically active during self-quarantine,” http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-technical-guidance/stay-physically-active-during-self-quarantine/_recache#article
Dr. Alfonso Morales
Clinic Director of Revive MD