Updated regularly. This information was last updated on April 10, 2020.
Coronavirus disease 19, also known as COVID-19 or simply coronavirus, is a world-wide pandemic that is inflicting a flurry of fear, panic and information from a wide variety of sources. To avoid the spread of misinformation and to empower our patients with accurate knowledge, the physicians at the Allergy & Asthma Center have consolidated some of our most frequently-asked questions about the coronavirus itself and as it relates to its practice, into one convenient fact sheet.
Below, you will also find a list of resources you can continue to trust through the duration of the pandemic, along with our contact information and testing procedures. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any further questions you may have regarding COVID-19.
FAQs on Coronavirus (click to jump to a topic of interest)
What is coronavirus, how does it spread and what are the symptoms?Coronavirus disease 19, or COVID-19, is a respiratory virus that spreads from person to person. People in close proximity (within about six feet) to a person carrying can pass the virus by coughing or sneezing, during which the uninfected person comes in contact with infected respiratory droplets. COVID-19 may also spread through contact with infected surfaces. The coronavirus can spread about one to three days before symptoms start, a key medical official of the World Health Organization reported on April 6th. Whether the person is symptomatic or presymptomatic, the disease is still spread in the same way — through droplets from the nose and mouth. The most common symptoms of coronavirus are similar to symptoms of the flu, though it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Along with mild to severe respiratory illness, the three telltale signs include:
- Shortness of breath
Is coronavirus a pandemic? What does that mean?COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the term “pandemic” simply refers to a disease which has spread quickly and simultaneously over a large portion of the globe. The term carries no implications about the severity or curability of the condition.
Is there currently a treatment for coronavirus?According to the latest statement from the CDC on their website,there are no medications or other therapeutics approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19 . However, efforts are being made across the scientific community to produce one, e.g. Remdesivir (in Clinical Trial phase), Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine (used to treat malaria and other inflammatory conditions) and other drugs that are in clinical trials or are being considered for clinical trials of pre-exposure prophylaxis, post-exposure prophylaxis, or treatment of COVID-19.
How can I protect myself from coronavirus?You can protect yourself and help prevent spreading the virus to others if you:
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. Here is some additional guidance on proper hand-washing techniques. Please note: hand sanitizer is not a sufficient replacement for soap and water, and you should always completely wash your hands when possible.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid close contact (2 meters or 6 feet) with people
- Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell
- Clean and disinfect your environment regularly.. Be a good citizen by treating public spaces and amenities as you would your home – use disinfectant wipes at your desk, keep surfaces clean, and sanitize your hands whenever you can.
- Touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean
I’ve heard a lot about quarantines. How do they work? Can I leave my house?According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease.” If you have recently traveled out of the country to a location currently reporting infections, or if you have come into contact with someone who has since tested positive for COVID-19, you may be asked to complete a quarantine. While not all quarantines are the same, currently, the CDC recommends:
- Make it a staycation: Avoid leaving the house unless absolutely necessary (read: visiting your healthcare provider, though see the next bullet for how to do that).
- Call ahead: You may need to see your doctor and many practices are now offering Telehelath virtual visits, so try this first. If that’s not an option, call ahead, so that the medical facility can take steps to prevent others from getting infected if you go in-person.
- Pets are OK, just be cautious: Based on the evidence so far, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove reported in a news conference: “We don’t believe that they [pets] are playing a role in transmission, but we think that they may be able to be infected from an infected person.” So currently, there’s no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19. But it may still be good to still use caution. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should distance yourself, not only from other household members but also from household pets, so as not to transmit the virus to them, particularly to cats or other felines,” recommends the CDC.
- Have your own stuff: Don’t swap unwashed “dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home,” says the CDC.
- And, as we mentioned before, Wash, rinse, repeat: Hygiene is a key part of this, even at home. Handwashing should be your first line of defense when under quarantine,” relates Dr. Gordon. “And don’t forget to cough or sneeze into your elbows or a tissue that you then throw away.”
Is everything I hear about coronavirus true?Unfortunately, not everything you see and hear about COVID-19 is verified fact. Here is a short list of some commonly-circulated, false statements about the virus which have been debunked by the WHO:
- Cold weather and hot baths do not prevent coronavirus.
- Alcohol and chlorine will not kill coronavirus.
- Cats, dogs and mosquitoes do not transmit coronavirus.
- You cannot contract coronavirus through contact with imported goods from China (or any other country which has reported cases of the virus).
What testing is available for COVID-19?There are now two main types of tests for coronavirus (COVID-19): molecular and serological. The fastest test to be authorized by the FDA, created by Abbott, can return results in as little as 5 minutes.There are no at-home COVID-19 tests that have been authorized by the FDA yet.
If I begin to show symptoms, how can I get tested?According to the CDC, if you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your state or local health department or a medical provider. Decisions about testing are at the discretion of these groups and medical professionals..While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.
If I test positive for coronavirus, how will my treatment proceed?If you test positive for COVID-19, vist the If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone instructional webpage on the CDC’s website. It breaks the information down into sections: “What To Do if You Are Sick”, “Caring for Yourself at Home”, “Caring for Someone at Home” and “Disinfecting your home if someone is sick”.
- How to prepare for a quarantine: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-prepare-for-a-coronavirus-quarantine-what-to-stock-up-on/
- Information on containment zones: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/03/first-us-covid-19-containment-zone-ny-51-more-cases-massachusetts
- How to practice “social distancing:” http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/sites/default/files/public/php/185/185_factsheet_social_distancing.pdf
- How to cope with social stigma: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/related-stigma.html
- Full coronavirus situation summary: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html
- Quick COVID-19 fact sheet: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf
- COVID-19 FAQ: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
- Detailed Q&A: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- COVID-19 myth busters: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
- Up-to-date news releases: https://www.who.int/news-room/releases
- Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing