It’s hard to believe that just a few
months years ago, none of us were aware of COVID-19.
Of course, that’s because it didn’t exist before the first cases were diagnosed in December 2019.
We sure are aware of it now.
Well, most of us are.
Or at least we think we are.
In reality, many folks really don’t know enough about COVID-19.
Get All of Your COVID-19 Questions Answered
What do we know?
As of the end of 2021, we know that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, including its many variants, has quickly spread all around the world, overwhelming the healthcare systems in many of them.
- CDC – COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
- CDC – COVID-19 Healthcare Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
- WHO – Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
- ECDC – Q & A on COVID-19
- FDA – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions
- ACOG – Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients
- COVID-19 Global Health Now News
- Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for International Travel
- CIDRAP COVID-19 Resource Center
- IDSA Guidelines on the Treatment and Management of Patients with COVID-19
We also know that:
- COVID vaccines are safe, with few risks, and effective, especially when you get a booster dose
- COVID-19 vaccines are available for children who are at least 5 years old, teens, and adults
- COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available for older teens who are at least 16 years old and adults
- masks offer protection against COVID, including all variants. Wear a face mask in high risk settings, especially when you are out in public, around a lot of people, in areas with high rates of COVID.
- anyone who is sick should avoid others until they call their health care provider and get further advice on what to do, which might involve a home COVID test or other type of testing
- in general, otherwise healthy children are not at as big a risk for serious illness from COVID-19 as adults, although they can get sick, can get others sick, and some do get serious, life threatening infections.
- COVID-19 symptoms can include headache, fever, cough, and trouble breathing, much like the flu, although some people have very mild symptoms, especially if they have been vaccinated or have already had COVID before (breakthrough infections). A new loss of taste and/or smell does seem to be characteristic of COVID though.
- the SARS-CoV-2 virus likely spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets and so require more direct, close contact with someone who is sick than other diseases (coming within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period), 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 most contagious in the first 5 days that you are infected, including the 1-2 days just prior to the start of symptoms/positive test and the 2-3 days after
- 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 sometimes limited in areas of the United States when COVID rates begin to rise, but a variety of tests are available, including home tests, rapid tests, and PCR tests
- over 5.4M people have died with COVID worldwide, including over 812K people in the US
- since people without symptoms can still be contagious, many health care providers are utilizing telemedicine visits
We know that since it is once again cold and flu season, many kids with a runny nose and cough may 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:
- although there are plenty of recipes online, you likely shouldn’t try to make your own hand sanitizer – it’s a lot more complicated than just mixing alcohol with a moisturizer as it might be too weak to kill bacteria and viruses, and remember, you can usually just wash your hands if soap and water is available
- you can make your own mask, but it won’t be as good as a N95 respirator, but if made correctly, it can provide some protection and is better than nothing. These homemade masks aren’t replacements for surgical masks and N95 respirators when those are available though.
- reusing disposable face masks and N95 respirators are another way to help keep health care providers protected until supply of personal protective equipment is improved – the masks should be kept away from UV light and sunlight.
- health care workers who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 can either monitor themselves for symptoms or might be put into quarantine depending on their risk of infection and staffing availability
- many experts are critical of the studies of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as treatments for COVID-19 and you should not be taking chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine at home for COVID-19 at this time
- you can’t boost your immune system with natural remedies to help avoid infections like COVID-19
- there are no homeopathic cures, herbal remedies, supplements or vitamins that can treat or cure COVID-19
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
- When to Call Your Pediatrician – COVID-19 Edition
- Treating Kids with COVID Monoclonal Antibodies
- Why There is Still So Much COVID-19 Confusion
- 7 Things to Know About COVID-19
- COVID-19 Vaccination Questions and Answers
- The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccines
- I’m Not Anti-Vaccine, I Just Don’t Believe in the COVID-19 Vaccine
- COVID-19 Presentations and Webinars
- Find answers about Coronavirus
- COVID-19 Health Literacy Project
- Information About Social Distancing
- Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak
- 7 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource
- CDC – How can I protect my child from COVID-19 infection?
- CDC – COVID-19 Resources for HOME
- USDA – Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- COVID-19 update: What you need to know now that it’s officially a pandemic
- COVID-19: Simple Answers to Top Questions, Risk Communication Guide
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Questions and Answers
- 31 questions and answers about COVID-19 (Bill Gates)
- COVID-19: Frequently asked questions (AMA)
- As coronavirus spreads, many questions and some answers
- Common Questions and Answers About COVID-19 for Older Adults and People with Chronic Health Conditions
- Kids and COVID-19: What Parents Should Know
- COVID-19: What Parents Need to Know
- COVID-19: Resource Center
- Washington state agencies answer COVID-19 questions about crowds, childcare, job loss
- COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act Questions and Answers
- COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act Questions and Answers
- Questions and Answers On providing Services to Children With Disabilities during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak
- CDC – Show Me the Science – When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings
- CDC – Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks
- CDC – Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators
- FDA – N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks (Face Masks)
- Share Facts About COVID-19