What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of
- shortness of breath
How long does virus live outside a carrier? This is very controversial. The general concept now is that the virus can last up to three hours in the air, though we don’t know that for sure. On surfaces we believe it can live up to three day, especially on hard shiny surfaces like table tops. But on cardboard or a rug it doesn’t last that long. That’s why we need to wipe down our surfaces and use social distancing. But wee believe it can live on any surface.
Should everyone get tested for COVID-19? Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Here is some information that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.
- Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
- There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.
- Testing results may be helpful to inform decision-making about who you come in contact with.
CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.
How should I engage in social distancing and why is it six feet apart? The answer is that droplets from the average cough don’t go past six feet, nor does water vapor or breathing. Six feet is a good number but 12 feet would be better since the virus doesn’t jump past this. This virus is very contagious.
How can I help protect myself? People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20
seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at
least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
Should people wear masks to protect themselves and others? The Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
What do I do to protect my family if I get the virus? Quarantine yourself as far as you can. Sleep in a different bed, use different utensils,. Someone is going to have to wait on you, but they should wear a mask and make sure they wipe down surfaces. Try to isolate as much as physically possible.
What is the treatment for COVID-19? The treatment is rest, lots and lots of fluid so you don’t get dehydrated and Tylenol for fever. The danger signs are true fatigue and shortness of breath. That’s when you may need to go to a hospital emergency room.
How soon can I go out after I recover from COVID-19? You should wait at least a week after symptom onsets and then wait another 72 hours without fever. After that you can probably return to society. It’s seven days for you but 14 days for everyone in your family. If you get COVID-19, usually you feel horrible for three to five days but then you slowly start to recover It can take up to 10 days to two weeks and two weeks minimum before you feel back to your normal self. It’s a very slow recovery and the fatigue lasts for a prolonged period of time.
Is it okay to go outside if you are under quarantine or sell-isolation? It’s wonderful to go outside, to walk or run. But don’t use outside gym equipment and make sure you practice social distancing. Don’t touch things while you are out. And wash your hands before and after.
What medications can help patients afflicted with COVID-19? There is some evidence that malaria medications like Hydroxychloroquine have some effect because they are anti-inflammatory. Studies in China and U.S. found Hydroxychloroquine and Zythromax may perhaps decrease the length of symptoms. But the study in China examined on 62 patients and we’re not sure if this is true. The FDA has approved use of these drugs, but people are hording them so we are saving these for very ill people. Also, please note that these medications are prescription medications. and people have died from overdosing.
Are we any closer to getting a vaccine for COVID-19? Everyone is trying to come up with one. Some limited human testing of vaccines has been started, but we won’t know for months if it works. A vaccine for H1N1 was rushed to market, so human testing is important and time consuming. But we most likely will not see a vaccine this season for COVID-19.
Is it true that donated plasma from those who have recovered may help? Yes there has been experiments with donated plasma from COVID-19 patients who have recovered. Their blood may have created antibodies to kill the virus. The hope is by taking the serum from people who have recovered, other patients can get those antibodies. But this is only experimental and won’t be widely available at this time.
How do we handle medical evacuations for those stranded in other countries? It’s extremely difficult. There are airport closures throughout the world and many countries are closing their borders. There’s a huge lack of airline capacity. And even if you can get home after being sick overseas, there’s the question of whether there will be a hospital that will accept you or have room to accept you. Here the U.S. and in some other countries, they have organized charter flights, but there’s still a challenge with getting permission to land such planes. In summery, it’s extremely difficult at this time and frankly impossible.
Is it true that warmer climates slow the spread of COVID-19? There’s no evidence that this is true. In fact, here in Houston [where Dr. Spangler lives] it was 90 degrees last week and it did not seem to slow the spared. COVID-19 does not seem susceptible to heat and humidity, so do not put much stock in this.
If I get COVID-19, will I be immune in future? That is the hope. You will develop antibodies and if the body remembers, hopefully you won’t get it in the future. But the concern is if the virus mutates. We’ve had COVID-19 but when is COVID-20 going to emerge.
Is there a risk that there will be a lack of doctors and nurses? Without question this is a problem. In Italy 20 percent of the physicians have been infected. There have already been deaths of emergency physicians in the U.S. It’s already happening in New York. Some cities and states have asked retired and part-time physicians to help out.
As we flatten the curve, what happens if there is a resurgence? There will be a resurgence with people who have not gotten it. The second wave will be a lesser curve. We may be working form home for months not weeks, but we will slowly return to normal. My fear is we will have to go to a new abnormal.
Are older people more susceptible to COVID-19 than younger people? What’s so scary about this is that we’ve seen 85 year olds recover and 35 year olds die. The most common age to get it is between 40 and 50. Death rates higher for people over 80, but now we have had deaths for those under 20. Some people who have the disease never exhibit symptoms for reasons we still don’t understand. Some people feel like crap for three or four days, and certain people say they have had it, it was bad, but now they are fine.
Any lasting effects of the COVID-19 virus? This is so new that we don’t really know. There is some evidence that you could have permanent lung damage, But young, healthy people basically do better than older, sick people. There’s a higher risk for those who smoke or who have pulmonary lung illness or chronic damage from smoking.
Is washing hands and not touching your face the best way not to get COVID-19? Soap and water is still an excellent way to prevent the spread of the disease. You should wash things and use Clorox wipes on surfaces. Shaking hands and hugging may have become a thing of the past. We’ll all be elbow bumping and waving. It may permanently change our culture.
Do we know the source of COVID-19? The most common explanation is it came from animals in China, bats or birds, and crossed over to humans. But it was not created in a lab somewhere. There is no evidence that it is a bio weapon or came from space.