UPDATED: Important Coronavirus Questions and Answers

Frequently Asked Questions for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

(Adapted from the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–Revised 3/13/2020)

How does COVID-19 spread? 

The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person

  • Between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet)
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes

When are people with COVID-19 the most contagious?

  • People infected with the virus are most contagious when they are the sickest
  • Symptoms may take up to 2-14 days to appear after exposure

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Who is at risk for severe disease from COVID-19?

  • So far, most  severe disease and deaths have occurred in elderly people and in people with underlying medical disease, especially that which compromises the immune system.
  • Infection in children appears to be asymptomatic or mild.  
  • While elderly patients have more severe disease, nearly 40% of US hospitalized patients were aged 20-54.
  • There have been a small number of deaths in children.  The risk of death is much higher in the elderly.

How can COVID-19 infection be prevented?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash hands frequently.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people.
  • Postpone travel.

Should I wear a mask to prevent COVID-19 infection?

  • No – masks do not protect a person who does not have the virus from getting the virus.  Some evidence suggests that people who wear masks are more likely to touch their faces more frequently which could increase the risk of infection with COVID-19.
  • People who are infected with the virus should wear masks to limit the spread of the virus when they cough or sneeze.
  • Healthcare workers who are in contact with potentially exposed patients and especially when collecting swabs from potentially exposed patients should wear eye protection and mask.

Who should be considered for testing for COVID-19?

  • The CDC has opened up testing to physician’s discretion as the virus has spread throughout the nation and travel is no longer the primary cause of exposure.
  • Priorities for testing include:
    • hospitalized patients with severe respiratory disease,
    • older adults and people with chronic medical conditions, and
    • healthcare workers who have had direct contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or travelled to an area of risk in the past 14 days.

What advice are we giving to our patients?

  • Stay home if you do not need medical care.
  • If you are sick enough to require medical care, call your physician’s office to schedule an appointment.
  • Proceed to the emergency department ONLY IF YOU ARE SICK ENOUGH TO REQUIRE EMERGENCY CARE.