As we continue to move into a new normal and learn to live with COVID-19, it is important to not become desensitized to the severity of the issue and avoid relaxing your prevention efforts, especially as many areas of our country continue to see increases in cases and deaths. While the desire to return to normal, see loved ones, travel and get back to old routines is natural, we must continue to protect others and ourselves from COVID-19. Keep reading to refresh yourself on important COVID information.
How It Spreads
The main way it spreads is through respiratory droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. In some instances, it can spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touching your face with unwashed hands.
It can take between two and 14 days before symptoms appear. On average, symptoms begin 5 days after exposure. The common symptoms as currently defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body pain
New loss of taste or smell
Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
Stuffy or runny
Why It Is Dangerous
COVID-19 is highly contagious. The illness can still be spread, even if a person doesn’t have symptoms. Many people who get COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms. For others, COVID-19 can cause severe and possibly fatal illness. People who are at high risk for severe illness include people 65 and older, and people of any age with underlying health conditions. For the current list of conditions that could make someone high-risk, please click here.
However, healthy individuals of any age, with no underlying health conditions, have experienced severe and fatal illness from COVID-19.
Prevent the Spread
While COVID-19 is a serious virus, there is a lot you can do to keep you, your loved ones, and your community healthy.
Wash your hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Wash between your fingers, your thumbs and fingertips
- If you can’t wash your hands, clean them with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
Practice social distancing
- Stay 6 feet away from people outside of your household
Wear a mask
- You should wear a mask…
- If you’re in a situation where you can’t socially distance
- At places that require them
- When going to busy places like the grocery store
- In areas where there are many COVID cases
- When local or state laws require you to
Avoid touching your face
- You may get sick if you touch your eyes, nose and mouth without washing your hands
Additional tips to keep in mind
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw it right away and wash your hands after
- Stay home if you are sick unless you are going to the doctor
- Avoid people who are sick
- Clean high-touch objects and surfaces at home like doorknobs, countertops, and sinks. Find a list of COVID-19 approved disinfectants here
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching objects like elevator buttons, handrails, doors, shopping carts and baskets
- Some people clean things like groceries, packages, mail and items handled by others. Do what makes you feel comfortable and in control of the situation.
Be extra careful if you or a loved one is at high risk
- Follow the tips above
- Limit time spent with people who may not be as careful as you
- Limit travel to places with a lot of cases
- Avoid large groups and crowded places
- Stay home when possible
What To Do If You Have Symptoms or Think You’ve Been Exposed
Call your doctor right away if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around someone who tested positive. They will tell you what steps to take next, especially if you are at risk for severe illness. They may want you to be tested, advise you to self-quarantine and ask you questions about where you have been and who you have seen.
Go to the emergency room immediately if you have symptoms such as trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure that won’t go away, or signs that you’re not getting enough oxygen such as blue face, lips or fingernails, and confusion.