Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19
What is COVID- 19?
• Coronavirus disease 2019, or "COVID-19" is an infection caused by a specific virus called SARS-CoV-2. The virus first appeared in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China. But it has spread quickly since then, and there are now cases in many other places, including the United States.
• People with COVID-19 can have fever, cough, and trouble breathing.
Problems with breathing happen when the infection affects the lungs and causes pneumonia.
• Experts are studying this virus and will continue to learn more about it
How is COVID-19 spread?
• COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person, similar to the flu. This usually happens when a sick person coughs or sneezes near other
people. Doctors also think it is possible to get sick if you touch a surface
that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
• From what experts know so far, COVID-19 seems to spread most easily when people are showing symptoms. It is possible to spread it without having symptoms, too, but experts don't know how often this happens.
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
• Symptoms usually start a few days after a person is infected with the
virus. But in some people it can take even longer for symptoms to appear.
Symptoms can include:
» Feeling tired
» Trouble breathing
» Muscle aches
• Although it is less common, some people have other symptoms, such as headache, sore throat, runny nose, or problems with their sense of smell. Some have digestive problems like nausea or diarrhea.
• For most people, symptoms will get better within a few weeks, and will not lead to long-term problems. Some people even have no symptoms at all. But in other people, COVID-19 can lead to serious problems like pneumonia, not getting enough oxygen, heart problems, or even death. This is more common in people who are older or have other health problems like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or cancer.
• While children can get COVID-19, they seem less likely to have severe
Should I see a provider?
• If you have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing and might have been
exposed to COVID-19, call your doctor or nurse. You might have been
exposed if you were in contact with a confirmed case within the last 14 days.
• If your symptoms are not severe, it is best to call your doctor, nurse, or clinic before you go in. They can tell you what to do and whether you need to be seen in person. Many people with only mild symptoms can stay home, and away from other people, until they get better. If you do need to go to the clinic or hospital, you will need to put on a face mask. The staff might also have you wait someplace away from other people.
• If you are severely ill and need to go to the clinic or hospital right away, you should still call ahead. This way the staff can care for you while taking steps to protect others.
• Your doctor or nurse will do an exam and ask about your symptoms.
They will also ask questions about any recent travel and whether you have been around anyone who might be sick.
Will I need tests?
• If your doctor or nurse suspects you have COVID-19, they might take a sample of fluid from inside your nose, and possibly your mouth, and send it to a lab for testing. If you are coughing up mucus, they might also test a sample of the mucus. These tests can show if you have COVID-19 or another infection.
• In some areas, it might not be possible to test everyone who might have been exposed to the virus. If your doctor cannot test you, they might tell you to stay home and away from other people, and call if your symptoms get worse.
• Your doctor might also order a chest X-ray or computed tomography
(CT) scan to check your lungs.
How is COVID-19 treated?
• There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Many people will be able to stay home while they get better, but people with serious symptoms or other health problems might need to go to the hospital:
» Mild illness – Most people with COVID-19 can rest at home until
they get better. People with mild symptoms like fever and cough
seem to get better after about 2 weeks, but it's not the same for
everyone. If you are recovering from COVID-19, it's important to
stay home, and away from other people, until your doctor or nurse
tells you it's safe to go back to your normal activities. This decision
will depend on how long it has been since you had symptoms, and
in some cases, whether you have had a negative test (showing that
the virus is no longer in your body).
» Severe illness – If you have more severe illness with trouble
breathing, you might need to stay in the hospital, possibly in the
intensive care unit (also called the "ICU"). While you are there, you
will most likely be in a special "isolation" room. Only medical staff
will be allowed in the room, and they will have to wear special
gowns, gloves, masks, and eye protection.
• The doctors and nurses can monitor and support your breathing and
other body functions and make you as comfortable as possible. You might need extra oxygen to help you breathe easily. If you are having a very hard time breathing, you might need to be put on a ventilator. This is a machine to help you breathe.
• Doctors are studying several different medicines to learn whether they
might work to treat COVID-19. In certain cases, doctors might recommend these medicines.
Can COVID 19 be prevented?
• There are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting COVID-
19. These steps are a good idea for everyone, especially as the infection
is spreading very quickly. But they are extra important for people aged 65 years or older or who have other health problems. To help slow the spread of infection:
» Wash your hands with soap and water often. This is especially
important after being in public and touching other people or
surfaces. Make sure to rub your hands with soap for at least 20
seconds, cleaning your wrists, fingernails, and in between your
fingers. Then rinse your hands and dry them with a paper towel you
can throw away.If you are not near a sink, you can use a hand gel
to clean your hands. The gels with at least 60 percent alcohol work
the best. But it is better to wash with soap and water if you can.
» Avoid touching your face with your hands, especially your
mouth, nose, or eyes.
» Try to stay away from people who have any symptoms of the
» Avoid crowds. If you live in an area where there have been
cases of COVID-19, try to stay home as much as you can.
Even if you are healthy, limiting contact with other people can help
slow the spread of disease. This is "social distancing."
• There is a lot of information available about COVID-19, including rumors about how to avoid it. But not all of this information is accurate. For example, you might have heard that you can lower your risk using a hand dryer, rinsing out your nose with salt water, or taking antibiotics. These things do not work.
• There is not yet a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
What should I do if someone in my home has COVID-19?
• If someone in your home has COVID-19, there are additional things you can do to protect yourself and others:
» Keep the sick person away from others – The sick person should
stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom if possible.
They should also eat in their own room.
» Use face masks – The sick person should wear a face mask
when they are in the same room as other people. If you are caring
for the sick person, you can also protect yourself by wearing a face
mask when you are in the room. This is especially important if the
sick person cannot wear a mask.
» Wash hands – Wash your hands with soap and water often (see
» Clean often – Here are some specific things that can help:
» Wear disposable gloves when you clean. It's also a good idea to
wear gloves when you have to touch the sick person's laundry,
dishes, utensils, or trash.
» Regularly clean things that are touched a lot. This includes
counters, bedside tables, doorknobs, computers, phones, and
» Clean things in your home with soap and water, but also use
disinfectants on appropriate surfaces. Some cleaning products
work well to kill bacteria, but not viruses, so it's important to check
labels. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
has a list of products here: www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-
What should I do if there if a COVID-19 outbreak in my area?
• The best thing you can do to stay healthy is to wash your hands
regularly, avoid contact with people who are sick, and stay home.
• If you think you were in close contact with someone with COVID-19, but
you don't have any symptoms, you can call your local public health office.
In the United States, this usually means your city or town's Board of
Health. Many states also have a hotline phone number you can call.
What can I do to cope with stress and anxiety?
• It is normal to feel anxious or worried about COVID-19. You can take
care of yourself, and your family, by trying to:
» Take breaks from the news
» Get regular exercise and eat healthy foods
» Try to find activities that you enjoy and can do in your home
» Stay in touch with your friends and family members
» At Southwest Family Physicians, we have mental health professionals who can support your emotional health through this time via Telemedicine Visits.
• Keep in mind that most people do not get severely ill or die from COVID-
19. While it helps to be prepared, and it's important to do what you can to
lower your risk and help slow the spread of the virus, try not to panic.
Where can I go to learn more?
• As we learn more about this virus, expert recommendations will continue
to change. Check with your doctor or public health official to get the most
updated information about how to protect yourself.
• You can also find more information about COVID-19 at the following
» United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
» World Health Organization