fbpx

What is COVID-19? 

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that was first recognized in December 2019. The virus causes a respiratory (lung) infection that can lead to severe complications that may require hospitalization. 

How is COVID-19 transmitted? 

The virus is transmitted through the air when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes. You can also be exposed by touching a surface that has the virus on it, then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes. 

That said, surface contamination is not currently considered the main way the virus spreads. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

The symptoms of COVID-19 virus infection are similar to the inf luenza virus and common cold: high fever, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and dry cough, but symptoms may vary. 

It typically takes between 2-14 days af ter exposure before symptoms appear, but an infected person is able to transmit the virus even before they have symptoms. 

Both COVID-19 and the flu can cause respiratory disease, but there are important differences between the two viruses and how they spread. Similarly, some symptoms of COVID-19 infection overlap with the common cold, while others are only rarely seen in colds.

Symptom

Coronavirus

Cold

Flu

Fever

Common

Rare

Common

Fatigue

Sometimes

Sometimes

Common

Cough

Common (dry)

Mild

Common (dry)

Sneezing

No

Common

No

Aches and pains

Sometimes

Common

Common

Runny or stuffy nose

Rare

Common

Sometimes

Sore throat

Sometimes

Common

Sometimes

Diarrhea

Rare

No

Sometimes for children

Headaches

Sometimes

No

No

Shortness of breath

Sometimes

No

No

How is the U.S. government responding to COVID-19?

Californians have been advised to shelter in place. This means you should remain in your home and avoid meeting with other people except to access essential services like grocery shopping, pharmacy, banking, getting gas, etc.). 

Businesses are allowing workers to work from home whenever possible and only workers in essential services like grocery store workers, police, firefighters and healthcare services will continue to go to work. 

What can I do to keep myself healthy?

Social distancing. Avoid leaving home and try to keep a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and other people in public to avoid being exposed to the virus. 

Wash hands periodically and especially if you’ve touched a surface that other people may have touched. 

Tips for washing your handsWash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you go to the bathroom, before eating, and after you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze. Additionally, be sure to clean the ‘webs’ between your fingers and thumbs, your fingertips and under your fingernails. If you’re out of soap, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow to reduce the risk of contaminating your hands. Be sure to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing to minimize any infectious particles on your hands. 

Try to avoid touching your face, mouth, nose, and eyes. The virus is transmitted through mucous membranes on your face (e.g., mouth, eyes) so it is important to wash your hands if you touch any surface that other people may have touched. 

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using household cleaning spray or wipes. 

Your immune system is your body’s defense system. When an invader – like a virus – gets into your body, your immune system mounts an attack. Following general health guidelines is the best step you can take to keep your immune system strong and healthy: 

Don’t smoke. Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Consider taking a multivitamin. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.Control your stress level and blood pressure. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation (no more than one to two drinks a day for men, no more than one a day for women). 

What if I have symptoms?

If you feel sick and your symptoms are not improving, please send a message to your care team or request a video visit. 

If you want to visit your doctor in person, please contact your doctor’s office prior to arrival

Should I get tested? 

According to CDC guidelines, your doctor may be collecting test samples for COVID-19 or influenza in high-risk patients and those with pre-existing conditions or social risks. 

If you feel ill, please schedule a video visit or call your doctor to receive guidance and see if you meet the criteria for testing. You must get a doctor’s referral and schedule an appointment before you can get tested. 

Should I go to the emergency room? 

Call your doctor or healthcare provider before going to your doctor’s office, a clinic, or the emergency room. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or if you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. 

Wayne Pan

Author Wayne Pan

Dr. Wayne Pan is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of mynurse.ai. He holds MD and PhD degrees from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and has over 25 years of healthcare industry experience, ranging from clinical medicine to managed care, health information technology and biotechnology.

More posts by Wayne Pan