Questions about Coronavirus COVID-19 Answered

How Does Coronavirus COVID-19 spread?

  • It is believed to mainly be spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets from infected people produced when they cough or sneeze. 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 may be infected by these droplets.  People are thought to be most contagious when they are sick.
  • 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 thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  • There are some reports of the virus being spread from people who are infected but do not have symptoms. This is not the main way that it spreads though.

How do I protect myself & my family?

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
      • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
      • Put distance between yourself and other people by staying at least 6 feet away from others.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 person to person.  The most commonly seen symptoms include:

    • Fever – temperature over 100.4 (even in someone who does not usually run a fever) or over 99.6 if you are over age 65.
    • Cough – tends to be a dry cough at first
    • Fatigue and body aches
    • Shortness of breath

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

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 not had a COVID-19 test to stay home when sick is:
    • stay home for at least 3 full days after your fever is completely gone (do not need any medicine to keep fever down)
    • AND your cough has improved
    • AND at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first began.
  • Stay away from others as much as possible by staying in one room at home and limiting contact with family members.
  • 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 use.
  • 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?

Tests have been created to test for COVID-19 but currently are not widely available.  As this changes over time, we will inform our patients.  Please note that not everyone needs to be tested.  The majority of people that become infected with the virus will have mild to moderate symptoms and recover at home without any difficulty.  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.  There is no treatment currently approved specifically for this virus so whether you have a test or not, the treatment plan is rest, fluids and supportive care if your symptoms worsen more than expected.

Should I wear a mask?

You should definitely wear a mask in two 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.

The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings 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.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

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.  The flu, 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 asthma
  • People with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, especially if not well controlled
  • People with HIV
  • People who are immune suppressed due to illness or medical treatment (like chemotherapy for cancer)

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

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • 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.
  • 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.

-3/22/2020 (last updated 4/3/2020) - Information sources include Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization & North Carolina  Department of Health