What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus or COVID-19

Coronavirus and what you can do to protect yourself

Last reviewed and updated: July 8, 2020

During the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown, we're updating this resource center regularly to keep you informed. Stay connected: 

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Why You Should Wear a Face Mask in Public 

Wearing cloth masks in public has become rather controversial for many people. If you wear a mask in grocery stores, you probably believe it reduces transmission of COVID-19. If you skip the mask, you probably believe a simple cloth barrier won’t do much against this pandemic. =And if you’re looking for a trusted expert or a scientific study to support your belief, you’ll find it. 

Anti-masker? You may point to the fact that just a few months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization both stated masks weren’t necessary for the general public. Pro-masker? You can point out that both these organizations have since changed their tune on masks. 

The simple explanation for so much inconsistency is that information on the novel coronavirus is continually evolving. Studies that came out in April were the best available evidence we had at the time. Now we know so much more – unfortunately, as a result of so many more cases around the world. 

But here's why you should probably wear one when you're in public.


Should You Get a COVID Antibody Test? 

For some people, knowing if they’ve had COVID-19 is an important step to getting back to normal. If they’ve had the disease, they may have some immunity to future infections (though that’s not yet certain) and may be willing to take greater risks, such as dining out and visiting friends.

But knowing if you’ve had the disease is a challenge: More than 40 percent of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 had no symptoms, according to a study published in late May. And Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates from April suggest that up to two-thirds of people infected with the disease are undiagnosed. 

That’s where COVID-19 antibody tests come in. Antibodies are an essential part of your immune system. When a pathogen, like bacteria or a virus, invades your body, antibodies bind to the invader and neutralize it, minimizing its damage. Your body came with some antibodies, which were passed from your mother. But most antibodies are developed over time when you’re exposed to pathogens.

Read on to find out whether you should get an antibody test.

Drug May Help Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19

An inexpensive steroid, dexamethasone, has been shown to reduce deaths in ventilated patients by one third and by one fifth in patients receiving oxygen, according to researchers involved with an unpublished study in England. Read more about the study and the drug here.
 

What COVID-19 Does to the Body

From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, we were told to watch for a few symptoms: dry cough, shortness of breath, fever. By the end of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added six new symptoms to the list: chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, repeated shaking with chills and a loss of taste or smell. Other symptoms, including diarrhea and nausea, have also been linked with COVID-19. 

The range of symptoms may seem broad, but it doesn’t come close to the massive array of possible complications from the disease. Here’s what we know today about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, that we didn’t know at the start

PTSD from COVID-19 Pandemic? You Bet 

PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after a traumatic event. The event may be shocking, frightening or dangerous, which is why many of us associate PTSD with war. While it’s true that recent veterans are more likely to have PTSD than the rest of us, anyone can get it. During a pandemic, frontline health and human services workers are at especially high risk. 

Usually, you develop PTSD when you directly experience or witness a traumatic event, or if someone close to you was threatened by one. A pandemic creates several unique circumstances that, for some people, can be traumatizing enough to trigger PTSD – or worse. 

Research published in 2013 showed that quarantine and isolation, as disease-containment measures, was so traumatic to some children and adults that they met the criteria for PTSD. Social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic may be associated with an increase in suicides – especially in older adults – for a variety of reasons, including loneliness and financial adversity. 

Here's what you need to know.

When Is It Safe to See My Grandkids?

Some states that issued stay-at-home orders in the wake of COVID-19 are starting to reopen for business. If it’s safe for you to go get your hair cut, shouldn’t that mean it’s safe for you to see your grandchildren?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Base your plans not only on local government recommendations, but also on factors unique to your family. These may include age, health status and commitment to protective measures.

As you weigh the decision about when to see your grandchildren, consider the latest scientific information available. Here are a few findings to keep in mind.

Your Guide to Returning to "Normal"

by Andrea Klemes, DO, FACE, Chief Medical Officer

With various states and the federal government considering easing social distancing restrictions and reopening segments of the economy, it’s important to remember that the coronavirus hasn’t gone away. That means if you’re in a high-risk group – or come into contact with people who are in a high-risk group — you still need to take substantial precautions, just as you have been for the last month or so.

Why do you need to be cautious? There is still a lot that scientists don’t know about the disease. For example, if you have had it, are you immune to it? Early studies are inconclusive. How widespread is the disease? Many people who have had the virus have never been tested, and studies show that they can spread the virus before symptoms show and even if they show no symptoms at all.

There is also no vaccine or effective treatment, and COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is still very dangerous.

So how do you ease back into a more normal life? Here are some tips.

What's happening today?

More than 3 million cases have been reported in the U.S., and those numbers are expected to grow. More than 30 states have experienced a resurgence of the virus since reopening in May. Arizona, Texas and Florida have been particularly hard hit. 

American Hospitals Also Saw Decline in Heart Attack Visits: Study 

During the period when cities and states began implementing social distancing and business shutdowns after COVID-19 outbreaks, researchers say many fewer patients went to the hospital with heart attacks. 

In a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers compared visit data from Northern California medical center before the first death was reported to visits after the crisis was in full swing. Looking at adults who were in the Kaiser Permanente system, researchers found that hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction fell from 4.1 per 100,000 people in the period leading up to March 4 (when the first death was reported) to 2.1 per 100,000 people during the period immediately following April 8.

Researchers also looked at seasonal trends to make sure that the COVID pandemic was the cause of the decline. The declines were similar to those experienced in European countries. You can read the full letter here.  

Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests Spike 

From late February through the end of March, the number of cardiac arrests that happened outside of hospitals spiked 58 percent compared to the same period during the previous year in the Lombardy area of Italy.

In a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers in Italy highlighted the discrepancy they found in four Italian provinces hard hit by COVID-19 cases. While the researchers zeroed in on Lodi, which had the 58 percent increase, they found similar increases in all four provinces.  

"The cumulative incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in 2020 was strongly associated with the cumulative incidence of COVID-19," the researchers wrote. While the study doesn't directly tie COVID-19 to this increase in cardiac arrests, there is an association, they write.

In the United States, some hospitals have reported a decline in cardiac events, which doctors speculate is the result of people avoiding medical care out of fear.

Read the full letter here.

Two New Studies Find No Efficacy for Hydroxychloroquine 

Despite early studies that seemed to suggest hydroxychloroquine used or without azithromycin might help treat COVID-19, more studies have failed to demonstrate a treatment benefit for patients with the disease.

Published in May in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, the two observational studies found no significant difference in mortality for those who were given the drug and those who were not.

In observational studies, researchers observe the effect of a treatment  without trying to change who is or isn't exposed to it.

In the first study of 1,376 patients, 811 received hydroxychloroquine. These patients were more severely ill than patients who did not receive the drug, and they were more likely to be intubated or die. Even when researchers adjusted for this factor, the study found no significant difference in the two groups for those endpoints

In the second study of 1,438 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, researchers found "no significant difference in mortality across the groups." Cardiac arrest was more likely in patients receiving hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin, researchers said.
    
Study: More Than 60% of Patients with Mild COVID-19 Had Smell, Taste Loss 

Two thirds of patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 said their taste and smell were altered by the disease. According to a new letter published online in JAMA, 64 percent of Italian patients with mild symptoms reported some alteration in their senses.

In the letter, originally submitted in late April, patients who had recovered from COVID-19 were interviewed over the phone and asked to rank their symptoms on a scale of 0 (meaning none) to 5 (as severe as possible). Most patients experienced some loss, with the median score being 4. In 12 percent of patients, the alteration of smell or taste began before other symptoms, and in 3 percent, it was the only symptom. 

Women were more likely to report the changes in smell or taste. 

There was no control group in this study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added lack of smell or taste to potential symptoms in April.

You can read the full article here.

Blood Clots, a COVID-19 Symptom in Seriously Ill Patients

One of the lesser known symptoms of COVID-19 infections are blood clots that can lead to stroke, heart attack or kidney damage. Doctors have been reporting on cases for the last few weeks and have identified the complication in some younger patients who have died from COVID-19.

In a letter published April 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, doctors reported on five cases of large-vessel stroke in patients younger than 50 years of age who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and in a New York City health system.

Previous data from a study in Wuhan, China showed that incidence of stroke in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 was 5 percent.

And doctors have noted pervasive clots in the lungs of deceased COVID-19 patients who have been autopsied. Some doctors are now recommending that some patients released from the hospital continue on anticoagulants.

Read more about the connection between blood clots and COVID-19.

NIH Highlights Results of Remdesivir Trial 

A few weeks ago, politicians and media were focused on hydroxychloroquine, a malaria medication, as a promising treatment for COVID-19. But researchers continued to investigate other potential drugs, including one that is now showing some results in patients with the disease.

The drug, remdesivir, is an antiviral drug that isn't approved (other than in emergency COVID-19 trials) for any use around the world -- according to its maker Giliad.

The reason researchers began testing remdesivir is because it has shown results against SARS and MERS, similar coronavirus to COVID-19, in lab and animal tests.

On April 29, the National Institutes of Health highlighted results of the drug in an early clinical trial. Even though the controlled trial of 1,063 hospitalized patients began on April 21, remdesivir was already showing more promise than placebo.

The agency said that patients on the drug were recovering faster, the primary measurement for the trial. Recovery was defined as being discharged from the hospital or returning to a normal activity level. Preliminary results indicated that patients who received the drug were 31 percent faster than patients on placebo to recover. This to mean patient’s recovery was about 4 days shorter than those taking the placebo.

A couple of important caveats: The study had not been peer reviewed or duplicated and the results were preliminary as well as no mention of side effects. You can read the NIH release here.

Progress Continues Towards a Vaccine

By now, you've probably heard a lot about vaccines for the coronavirus. Developing vaccines often take years, but scientists across the globe are rushing to create one in record time fror this disease. Why? With no innate human immunity to the virus, stopping future outbreaks depends on vaccinations. 

So the race to create a vaccine for coronavirus is on; here's a deep look inside the science behind the vaccines being developed.

Study: Summertime May Slow Coronavirus 

The summer may slow coronavirus infections, but it won't be the heat doing, according to a new study posted online April 23.

According to researchers at the University of Connecticut, the sun's ultraviolet rays, a kind of energy invisible to the naked eye that is part of the sun's light spectrum, probably negatively affects the virus. But the researchers, whose study has yet to be peer-reviewed, cautioned that the model's projections are uncertain.

Some viruses like the cold and flu wane with fluctuations in seasons, peaking in winter when there is less heat and light and falling off in the summer. Scientists have speculated that the coronavirus might also be affected by temperature and light.

The Connecticut scientists, who based their projections on global spread of the disease and weather data, said early lab results predicted that heat, humidity and ultraviolet light would slow the disease. In their model, however,  ultraviolet light was most "strongly associated with lower COVID-19 growth."

"Projections suggest that, in the absence of intervention, COVID-19 will decrease temporarily during summer, rebound by autumn and peak next winter," according to the study. The authors said that aggressive policy interventions will "likely be needed in spite of seasonal trends.

The full study is here.

Obese, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes: Key Risk Factors for Hospitalization
Many of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York also had diabetes or high blood pressure or were obese, according to a new analysis. 

Of 5,700 patients studied, researchers found that 57 percent had hypertension, 42 percent were obese and 34 percent had diabetes

Children Continue to Fair Well Against COVID-19 Infections
While children get COVID-19 infections, most are coping well with the disease, according to a review of 18 studies with more than 1,000 participants. 

In most cases, children presented with fever, dry cough and fatigue or were asymptomatic. Though most of the children in the study were hospitalized, researcher said they largely needed only supportive care. Supportive care is designed to relieve symptoms. Most of the subjects recovered in one to two weeks

What's the Difference Between a Dry Cough And a Wet Cough? 
If you (or a loved one) has a cough, you might be worried, as coughing is a hallmark symptom of COVID-19. But there are many different types of coughs. And of course, developing a cough doesn’t mean you have COVID-19.

Coughing has a purpose. It’s a reflex that helps protect your body by clearing germs, toxins and mucus from your lungs and trachea. However, a cough that lasts longer than eight weeks is considered persistent; if you have a persistent cough you should contact your doctor because chronic coughs may be a sign of an underlying health issue.  

Here's your primer on coughs and when you need to seek medical help.
 

What Are COVID Toes? 

Some potential symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, aren't what you would expect. A loss of smell or taste, for example. But now dermatologists say that some patients are presenting with purple lesions on their toes or hands, a condition commonly referred to as pernio -- and COVID-19 is probably behind it.

Here's a synopsis from TODAY.

Antibody Tests: What Are They and How Do They Work? 

After you've had an infection, your body retains little memories of the virus (or a bacteria) that can help it to fight off future infection. These memories are called antibodies, blood proteins. People with antibodies typically have immune cells that can stop a virus.

One of the keys to ending the COVID-19 shutdown, scientists say, is developing a reliable antibody test. This will allow us to identify people who have had the virus and recovered, for example. It may also lead to treatment options.

Here's a nice primer on antibodies from USA Today.

Study Finds 44% of Transmissions Occurred Before Symptoms 
Researchers in China say that 44 percent of COVID-19 transmission pairs — that’s two people where one person most likely infected the other — occurred before the original person with the disease was symptomatic. In a study published April 15 in Nature Medicine, researchers estimate that presymptomatic transmission accounted for nearly half of all secondary cases. Furthermore, researchers concluded that people became infectious 2.3 days before symptom onset and infectiousness peaked 0.7 days before symptoms began.

Researchers Find Other Respiratory Infections in 21% of COVID-19 Tests 
Scientists in California looked at 1,200 patients with respiratory symptoms and found that 21 percent who tested positive for COVID-19 also had a secondary infection like the common cold or respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV. Of those tested originally for a different infection, 8 percent subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, leading researchers to conclude that just because a patient has a pathogen that isn’t COVID-19 doesn’t mean they do not also have the novel coronavirus. The study, which was conducted over the course of March, will have little impact on treatment, its authors said.

Worried About Your Immune System? Keep Exercising
Exercising regularly can help your body fight off infections like the cold and the flu.

Regular exercise, in particular, is key part of living a healthy lifestyle by promoting cardiovascular health lowering blood pressure, protecting against diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and helps control your weight. When you’re fit, your body is healthier and therefore your immune system is healthier. Exercise improves circulation, which may contribute directly to an improved immune response.

Which is why it’s important to keep exercising even if you’re stuck indoors during this pandemic. Here’s how to keep going.

Patients with Asthma at Higher Risk 
If you have breathing-related disorder like asthma, you may be at a much higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's because COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs), cause an asthma attack or possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

In an interview with Healthline, MDVIP affiliate Louis Malinow, MD, an internist in Baltimore, described the challenge for people with asthma. “An asthmatic under poor control, who starts with 70 percent lung function for instance, and is then impacted and trying to function with 40 percent lung function, is going to be struggling a lot more,” Dr. Malinow said. 
 
Read the full story on Healthline here.

Clinical Trial for COVID-19 Vaccine Launches this Week 

There is some good news in the battle against COVID-19, the virus responsible for causing coronavirus: A vaccine candidate is about to enter a phase 1 clinical trial with 40 healthy adult volunteers. This trial, if successful, is an important step towards normalcy. 

Inovio Pharamceuticals will begin administering two doses four weeks apart of NO-4800 DNA vaccine to participants, under a trial approved April 6 by the Food and Drug Administration. Study results, including initial immune response and safety data, are expected by late summer. Inovio hopes to get the second phase of the trial up and running as soon as possible. In fact, 1,000 doses of the vaccine have already been manufactured to support both phase one and phase two trials. Inovio’s vaccine program is funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The vaccine is promising. Preclinical results for the vaccine were consistent with the results of a phase one trial of a vaccine developed by University of Iowa and University of Georgia researchers to prevent MERS-CoV, the virus responsible for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (or MERS), another coronavirus.  

NO-4800 DNA vaccine involves injected a lab-created plasmid, a genetic cellular structure that can replicate without chromosomes, into a patient, triggering their cells to produce a specific antibody that fights the COVID-19 infection. Until now, DNA vaccines have been used in veterinarian medicine. This will be the first DNA vaccine engineered for humans.

The trial beginning this week is actually the second vaccine trial. Back in March a vaccine developed by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and biotechnology company Moderna was launched.
 
If Inovio’s trial is successful, the vaccine could be approved within 18 months. 
-- Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

What Is Convalescent Plasma?

You may have recently heard a new phrase related to COVID-19 treatment: convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma refers to a blood product that contains antibodies of a particular virus or bacteria. In this case, doctors are taking plasma from the blood of patients who have had and recovered from COVID-19 and giving that plasma to patients who still have the disease.

Once platelets and red and white blood cells are removed, plasma is the clear liquid part of blood that remains. It contains water salts, enzymes, proteins and antibodies.

Convalescent plasma is designed to boost the immune systems of patients and dates back more than 100 years. It’s been used to treat diphtheria, scarlet fever and tetanus, according to the journal Contagion. More recently, the Food and Drug Administration, which has approved trials of convalescent plasma for COVID-19, convalescent plasma was tested to treat the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009 and 2010 as well as SARS and MERS outbreaks. 

The Red Cross is looking for plasma donations from people who have recovered from COVID-19. Early, small studies have suggested convalescent plasma may help until another treatment becomes available. 

Facemasks 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines for facemasks (read about how facemasks work). The agency now says you should cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Why? You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick, the CDC says. Here's the verbatim guidance:

  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Here's a link to the CDC's advice on protecting yourself.

Vaccine News 
Researchers believe the virus passes from person to person through airborne droplets, passed by breath, sneezes and coughs. The aerosolized virus can hang in the air for hours, according to some research. Although face coverings may not prevent all transmissions, they may help reduce the risk of that people without symptoms transmit the disease to the healthy.

Researchers say they'll be ready to begin testing a vaccine in humans within a few months, according to a paper published in EBioMedicine April 2. Early research on a vaccine called PittCoVax in mice showed an increase in antibodies within two weeks of receiving the vaccine.

Commonalities Among the Moderate to Severely Ill COVID-19 patients
New research, published April 2, is confirming what scientists already thought: Older, sicker patients are more likely to die from COVID-19. In a study conducted from mid-January to mid-February in Wuhan, China, patients who died from COVID-19 were more likely to be older (68 vs. 51), more likely to be male (73 percent vs. 55 percent) and more likely to have chronic hypertension and cardiovascular disease (48 percent vs. 14 percent).

Deceased patients were more likely to have leukocytosis (50 percent vs. 4 percent) and lymphopenia (91 percent vs. 47 percent). These terms refer to an excess of white blood cells, which are part of the body's immune response, or too few white blood cells, respectively.

Other commonalities: liver enzymes, creatinine, lactate dehydrogenase, troponin, N-terminal–pro–brain natriuretic peptide, d-dimer, and systemic inflammatory marker levels were much higher in deceased patients than in those who recovered. The study is called Clinical Features of Moderately to Critically Ill Patients with COVID-19 Who Die.

Treatment Update 
Hospitals and researchers are looking for ways to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. They are testing different therapies, including antiviral drugs previously developed to treat other viral infections, to see if they might also be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. Here is the latest on treatment from Harvard Health.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new antibodies test for coronavirus, which can verify a person has had an infection and may have built up some immunity. Why is that important? According to an article in the New York Times, "People with immunity might be able to venture safely from their homes and help shore up the work force. It may be particularly important for doctors and nurses to know whether they have antibodies."

Map of coronavirus cases. For a U.S. specific map, click on US under the "Confirmed Cases by Country" column.

CDC Guidance on Travel Within the U.S.

(Updated 4/30)

Who is at high risk?

Based upon available information to date, the CDC says those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
  • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications. Read more from MDVIP-affiliated physician Stephen Hoffman, MD, an infectious disease expert.

(Updated 4/25)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

And at least two of these symptoms

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Symptoms vary in individuals, and unfortunately, they have ranged from mild (with no reported symptoms) to severe, including death. Symptoms tend to start five days after infection, on average, according to one study. Read about other possbile symptoms in this article by MDVIP-affiliated physician Stephen Hoffman, MD, an infectious disease expert.

You may still have coronavirus -- and be able to spread it even if you do not have symptoms. If you have been exposed to someone with the virus or have traveled to an area where the virus is widespread, health officials say you should self-isolate for 14 days.

Learn more.

What happens if I get sick?

If you become sick, stay home, just as you would with any respiratory illness like the flu or a cold, and call your doctor immediately — and call before going, as your doctor’s rules about visits may have changed to control the spread of the virus. After talking to you, your doctor can determine if you should be tested for coronavirus. Testing has ramped throughout the country, particularly in the hardest hit areas. Some cities have even organized drive-thru test centers. If you need to be tested, your doctor and/or local health department can guide you where to go. 

BLOG: You Think You’ve Got Coronavirus. Here's What You Should Do Next (3/24)

If you have symptoms like nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, cough, painful swallowing or other symptoms generally associated with respiratory illnesses, it’s a good chance this is the flu or cold. The main symptoms for COVID-19 are dry cough, fever and shortness of breath.

BLOG: How the Coronavirus Is Different from the Flu, Colds And Allergies

What can I do to protect myself?

Unfortunately, a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 doesn’t currently exist. Your best bet to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed. Here are some of the latest recommendations from the CDC:

  • Stay at home as much as possible. Skip unnecessary shopping trips and social visits.
  • Limit going out to essential errands (shopping for groceries, going to the bank, getting gasoline, etc.).
  • When in public, follow local ordinances such as wearing a cloth mask and abiding by curfews.
  • Practice social distancing by keeping a six-foot distance between yourself and other people.
  • Avoid crowds of 10 or more.
  • Use drive-throughs and delivery services instead of going inside restaurants.
  • Avoid discretionary travel.
  • Do not visit skilled nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
  • Be hyper-vigilant about personal hygiene; for instance, don’t touch your face and sneeze/cough into a tissue and throw it away.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Disinfect commonly used objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Keep in mind that being over 65 and having a chronic condition puts you at a higher risk for severe complications.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns.

How does coronavirus spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably, according to the CDC. Right now, much of what is known about how the coronavirus spreads is based on similar viruses. The virus is thought to be spread from person to person through:

  • Droplets that are emitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can enter the mouth or noses of people nearby and then be inhaled into their lungs. 

It’s possible the virus also spreads on surfaces, when people come in contact with virus on a surface and then touch their mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. A new letter in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the virus can live for hours on many different surfaces and in the airHere's how to effectively clean and disinfect surfaces.

According to the CDC, people are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest. But some spread is possible before people show symptoms. Multiple studies now point to clusters of cases where the most likely cause of secondary infections was from people who were not exhibiting symptoms.

How is it treated?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 yet. If you become infected, you should still seek medical treatment to help relieve symptoms, according to the CDC. Medical care also can help prevent/control secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia. Research is ongoing to find a treatment that works. Here's the latest on treatment from Harvard Health.

 


MDVIP is a national network of primary care doctors who see fewer patients so they can focus on delivering personalized medicine, patient-centered medicine and preventive care that starts with the MDVIP Wellness Program.

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