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Get All of Your COVID-19 Questions Answered

It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago, none of us were aware of COVID-19.

Of course, that’s because it didn’t really exist before the first cases were diagnosed in December 2019.

Listen to the experts when looking for answers to your questions bout COVID-19.
Listen to the experts when looking for answers to your questions bout COVID-19.

We sure are aware of it now.

Well, most of us are.

Or at least we think we are.

In reality, we really don’t know enough about COVID-19.

Get All of Your COVID-19 Questions Answered

What do we know?

As of early-April, we know that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has quickly spread to at least 199 different countries around the world, overwhelming the healthcare systems in a few of them.

We also know that:

  • wearing a face mask all of the time if you are not a health care worker likely won’t prevent you from getting infected, although you should wear a mask if you are sick, as it might reduce your risk of getting others sick. The broader use of homemade face masks by the general public is something that is being looked at, but with short supplies of PPE, surgical face masks and N95 masks should still be reserved for at risk workers.
  • anyone who is sick should avoid others until they call their health care provider and get further advice on what to do
  • in general, otherwise healthy children are not at big risk for serious illness from COVID-19, although they likely do get mild infections, which they can pass on to others
  • COVID-19 symptoms can include fever, cough, and trouble breathing, much like the flu
  • the SARS-CoV-2 virus likely spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets and so require more direct contact with someone who is sick than other diseases, like measles, which spread easily by airborne transmission and are more contagious. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can likely also survive on surfaces for up to a few hours to a few days, so you might also get sick by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Airborne transmission is not thought to be a big factor.
  • you are unlikely to get COVID-19 from exposure to food or packages that you pick up at a restaurant or the grocery store, especially if you wash your hands after touching these items.
  • you are likely contagious before you start to show symptoms
  • since people without symptoms can still be contagious, most health care providers have stopped all non-essential visits in their offices, instead switching to telemedicine visits
  • you are most contagious when you are most symptomatic
  • the incubation period is from 1 to 14 days, with most people beginning to show symptoms about 5 days after they are exposed
  • testing for COVID-19 is still very limited in the United States, but will hopefully quickly improve as more private labs get involved in testing and we move to mobile testing centers and rapid tests
  • the first COVID-19 vaccines are in phase 1 trials, but are still 12 to 18 months away from final approval
  • although we still don’t know the case fatality rate of COVID-19, it is thought to be somewhere between 0.1% and 3%, everyone should understand that even if it is 1%, that is still 10 times higher than seasonal flu

What else?

We know that since it is still cold and flu season, many kids with a runny nose and cough will not have COVID-19 right now. They might instead have the flu, rhinovirus, enterovirus, or other viruses. And most, if they aren’t having trouble breathing and are drinking well, may not need medical attention. That’s important to understand, as we don’t want those who might have COVID-19 spreading it to others as they unnecessarily seek medical care for a viral infection that will go away on its own.

And we know that social distancing is important to “flatten the curve,” or slow down how quickly the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads through our communities. We don’t want too many folks getting sick at once, as that will overwhelm our hospitals, making it even less likely that severely ill people will survive.

Some other things that it is important to know about COVID-19 is that:

We also know that for those who are high risk, COVID-19 is more severe than the seasonal flu that we are used to seeing each year. And since it is new and no one has immunity, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has the potential to get a lot of people sick very quickly.

More on FAQs About COVID-19

1 thought on “Get All of Your COVID-19 Questions Answered”

  1. The question I have not found an answer to anywhere: what is the approximate rate of severe illness in people aged 20-39 with symptomatic COVID-19

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