COVID 19

Questions about Coronavirus COVID-19 Answered

What about a COVID vaccine booster?

Age 5 and older - CDC recommends if immune compromised. Must be at least 5 months after last mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or 2 months after last Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Adults 18 and older may receive any brand of COVID-19 vaccine for your booster shot. However, it is recommended that people get boosted with a mRNA vaccine – Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, instead of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, unless they have a medical reason as to why they cannot receive an mRNA vaccine. NCDHHS encourages you to speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have questions about what booster is right for you.

Adults over age 50 with underlying health conditions should consider getting a second booster shot as long as it has been 4 months since your last dose.

Adults over age 65 are encouraged to get a second booster shot at least 4 months after your last dose.

North Carolina Department of Health guidance on booster shots is available here.

How Does Coronavirus COVID-19 spread?

It is spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets or small aerosol particles from infected people produced when they cough, sneeze, sing, talk or breathe. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.  People within 6 feet of an ill person are most likely to be infected by these droplets.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has a virus on and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes although this is not the main way the virus spreads.

The virus may also be spread from people who are infected but do not have symptoms.

How do I protect myself & my family?

  • Get a COVID vaccine to prevent severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID.
  • Cover your mouth & nose with a mask when you are around other people.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people by staying at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap & water are not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will also work.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you are ill, cover your mouth & nose with a tissue if you cough or sneeze. Immediately throw away the used tissue in the trash can afterward and wash your hands with soap & water for 20 seconds.  If tissue not available, please cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • If you or someone in your household is ill, clean & disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your home such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. Most common EPA certified cleaners will work.  An alternative to products such as Lysol or Clorox would be 4 teaspoons household bleach mixed with 1 quart of water.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure (average is 4 days) and vary in intensity from mild to severe.

The most commonly seen symptoms include:

Fever – temperature over 100.4 or over 99.6 if you are over age 65.
Cough
Shortness of breath

Other symptoms may include any combination of the following:

Fatigue
Muscle pain
Chills (may be severe enough to cause shaking chills called rigors)
Headache
New loss of taste and/or smell
Sore throat
Congestion & runny nose
Diarrhea
Nausea & vomiting

If you develop these Emergency warning symptoms of COVID-19, call us or seek emergency care immediately.  These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

Trouble breathing
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
New confusion or inability to arouse
Bluish lips or face

A symptom checker is available at this link: Symptom checker

 

What do I do if I am sick?

Stay home – most people who have mild to moderate symptoms will do fine at home. The current CDC recommendation for how long a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home when sick or if a person has a positive COVID-19 test is (with or without symptoms):

  • stay home for at least 5 days since your symptoms began AND
  • at least 24 hours with no fever without needing fever reducing medication AND
  • other symptoms of COVID are improving (loss of taste & smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not prolong isolation).
  • If symptoms not improving after 5 days, stay home and away from others for 10 days.
  • If return to work or school, wear a well fitting mask around others at home and in public for an additional 5 days.
  • Avoid travel for full 10 days after start of symptoms.
  • Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask, such as restaurants and some gyms, and avoid eating around others at home and at work until a full 10 days after your first day of symptoms.

Stay away from others as much as possible by staying in one room at home and limiting contact with family members. Do not leave home except for medical care.

Hydrate – drink water or mix of half apple juice, half water. This is an important way to help your body fight off the virus.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze as detailed above.

Clean your hands often with soap & water or hand sanitizer.

Do not share items such as drinking glasses, dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people in your house. Wash these items thoroughly with soap & water after Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your sick room and bathroom. Another person in your house can clean other areas of your house but if possible, have the sick person clean in their own room to keep family members safe from infection.

Call our office at 919.846.9292 if your symptoms are severe enough that you need to seek care.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

There are three types of COVID-19 tests:

  1. Antigen test - checks for current infection and should be done within the first three to five days of symptoms or 3 to 5 days after an exposure to COVID-19. This test can give you same day results.
  2. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) checks for active COVID virus and is sent to an offsite lab (LabCorp), results take two to four days to return.
  3. Antibody test - checks to see if a person has been exposed to or had a COVID-19 infection and developed antibodies to this infection.  These antibodies will usually develop 7 to 21 days after first infected. It is not yet known how long a positive antibody test guarantees future immunity to COVID-19 nor what level of antibodies protects against COVID-19 infection.

The North Carolina Department of Health currently recommends testing for the following groups:

Fully vaccinated and boosted individuals should get tested if they:

    • Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms should get tested immediately.
    • Have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. You should get tested within 3-5 days after exposure.

Unvaccinated individuals should get tested if they:

    • Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms should get tested immediately.
    • Have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. If they do not have symptoms, they should wait at least 5 days after their last known exposure to COVID-19 before they get tested.
    • Take part in activities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 because they cannot physically distance as needed to avoid exposure, such as travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded or poorly ventilated indoor settings.

Where to get a COVID-19 test:

  1. Our office - If you feel like you need a test, please call the office at (919) 846-9292 to discuss your options.
  2. NC Test Site Finder - use your zip code to find a drug store or health department location offering drive up testing.
  3. Pixel - NC Department of Health is partnering with LabCorp to provide free, at home testing available to NC residents.

What should I do if I test postive for COVID-19?

If you have symptoms and test positive for COVID-19:

The majority of people that become infected with the virus will have mild to moderate symptoms and recover at home without any difficulty.  Treatment for your symptoms is outlined above.  Please call the office if you have any questions or concerns about how you are feeling.

All viruses are contagious and it is always advisable to avoid being around vulnerable people who are at risk of complications when you have any viral illness. The CDC recommends that you self isolate at home for at least 5 days after the start of your COVID-19 symptoms whether you have been vaccinated or not and recommends wearing a well fitted mask for an additional 5 days.

If you have a known exposure to COVID-19 and test positive:

It is recommended that you self isolate for at least 5 days after your positive test result and monitor for symptoms.  If you do not develop symptoms, you can end self isolation 5 days after your positive test and wear a well fitting mask when around other people for an additional 5 days. If you develop symtoms, you will need to self isolate for a minimum of 5 days after your symptoms begin and wear a well fitted mask for an additional 5 days when in public if symptoms improve enough to end isolation. This advice applies regardless of vaccine status.

Use this tool to determine how long you need to self isolate if you are unsure.

Should I wear a mask?

You should wear a mask in the following situations:

  1. If you are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 you should wear a mask when you are around other people at home or if you have to leave home to seek medical care.
  2. If you are caring for someone who is ill with symptoms of COVID-19 and they are unable to wear a mask, then the caregiver should wear a mask.
  3. It is advised that everyone follow the CDC guidelines advising the use of wearing a mask to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others (assymptomatic spread).  Guidance on masks from the North Carolina DHHS is available here.

Who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and what can they do?

Please know that being at higher risk of severe illness does not mean that you will definitely get the virus.  It does mean that you should be extra careful to avoid sick people and to control any chronic conditions as well as possible.  Please know that if you do get a cough in the near future, it does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19.  Seasonal allergies and other routine viral infections are currently present in our community. Please remember that 95 to 97% of people that get coronavirus survive.

Groups at higher risk of complications from this virus include:

  • People over age 65
  • People with chronic lung conditions such as COPD (emphysema) or moderate to severe asthma
  • People with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, especially if not well controlled
  • People with severe obesity (BMI over 40)
  • People with HIV
  • People who are immune suppressed due to illness or medical treatment (like chemotherapy for cancer)
  • People with chronic kidney or liver disease

Steps to take if you are at higher risk for severe illness:

  • Get the COVID vaccine and appropriate boosters.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Wear a well fitted mask when out in public.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick by staying 6 feet away (about 2 arms length away).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid cruises or any unnecessary travel.
  • Continue to take your medications. Do not stop any medication without calling us.
  • Continue to work on controlling your chronic illness through healthy eating and exercising.
  • Call us if you are sick or have any questions at 919.846.9292.

What can I do to help cope with the stress of all this?

Everyone reacts differently to stress.  Fear and anxiety about the virus and all the economic changes can be very difficult to control.  If you are feeling continuously overwhelmed by everything going on, please call us to discuss options.  There are a few things you can try at home that will help.

  • Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including on social media. Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic is very distressing and unnecessary.
  • Take care of your body. Meditate, stretch, take deep breaths.  Take a walk.  Take your prescribed medications regularly. Try to eat healthy meals, exercise, get plenty of sleep.  Avoid alcohol, drugs or binge shopping online.
  • Try new activities.
  • Connect with others using the phone or technology. Talk to someone about how you are feeling.

What measures are we taking to protect our patients?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our primary concern is the health of our patients.  It is important that our patients continue to follow up with routine visits for health care maintenance and for monitoring of chronic conditions.  We will continue the following measures to protect our patients:

    • TeleVisits will continue to be an option.  See our TeleVisit page for more information.
    • We follow CDC guidelines when thoroughly cleaning exam rooms between patients. The waiting room is thoroughly cleaned by our staff regularly throughout the day and by a cleaning crew at night.
    • Staff and providers will be wearing masks.
    • We ask that all patients & families wear a mask when visiting our office.  We will provide a mask if necessary.
    • We ask that patients come by themselves if possible.  If you need assistance, please limit it to one additional person.

What can I do differently after receiving the vaccine?

The CDC currently recommends that two weeks after you complete your vaccine series (two shots for Moderna & Pfizer, one shot for Johnson & Johnson), it is considered safe to gather with other people who have completed their vaccine series without wearing a mask.  You may also gather in a small household group with healthy people who have not yet recieved their vaccine.  In other words, if you are fully vaccinated and your family is healthy, go hug those grandkids. Summary of CDC recommendations for vaccinated people is availabe here.

If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 10 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for at least 5 days if your test result is positive.

It is recommended that you continue to wear a mask in indoor public spaces or if with a high risk person who has not yet been vaccinated.  Also, wash your hands routinely, avoid large crowds and maintain social distancing guidelines.

-3/22/2020 (last updated 07/26/2022) - Information sources include CDC, WHO & North Carolina  Department of Health 

COVID-19 Links

CDC Guidelines for Quarantine and Isolation after COVID (or after COVID exposure)

 

COVID Vaccine Links:

All residents of North Carolina over age 5 are now eligible to receive a COVID vaccine. These vaccines are free and readily available at a variety of locations.

Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine is available for everyone over age 5.

Moderna (SpikeVax) vaccine is available for everyone over age 18.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is available to those over age 18.

Appointments available:

Vaccine information:

Sites specific to Your Health:

 

Community Resources:

General Information Sites: