Frequently Asked Questions About Coronavirus (COVID-19)
What is Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can be spread from person to person. This novel virus infection has quickly spread worldwide.
How do people contract COVID-19?
Spread from person to person is common. This occurs either when droplets from a cough or sneeze land within the nose or mouth. Person to person spread is more likely when you are close to an infected contact for prolonged periods of time.
You can also contract COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface like a doorknob and then touching your face. Keep in mind that gloves will protect your hands from contact with a contaminated surface but if you then touch your face or scratch your nose with a gloved hand you can still transfer viral particles to your face and become sick.
What are the typical symptoms?
Symptoms can include fever, cough, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. However, these symptoms can take up to two weeks to develop and many infected people might never develop any symptoms. Remember that an asymptomatic person can transmit the virus to others who might develop more severe disease.
What can I do to prevent contracting COVID-19?
In addition to social distancing and stay-at-home orders, Colorado Governor Polis has recommended wearing a cloth mask while out in public. If you choose to wear a mask, adjusting the mask while you’re wearing it can bring your hands into contact with your face which can defeat the purpose of wearing the mask. Also, if you wear gloves in any situation, keep in mind that gloves can harbor the virus so be very careful not to touch your face even when wearing gloves and wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
Focusing on good hand hygiene as well as avoiding touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth is a must and now is a great opportunity to reinforce that behavior with any kids and family members in the home. Make sure to wash in between your fingers, under your nails, knuckles, and wrists with soap and water or appropriate hand sanitizer.
What can I do to prevent passing an infection to family members?
If members of your family work in an essential industry and must have contact with the public, they should consider changing out of uniform/ work clothes before entering the home and interacting with your family. Likewise, wiping down any work gear, including boots, that might have had contact with strangers prior to bringing them into the home is helpful. You should also consider washing uniform/ clothing separate from the rest of the family’s clothing.
Who is at the highest risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19?
If you have a potentially high-risk family member, you might consider avoiding contact for their safety, if possible. High-risk people include smokers, people with lung diseases like asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), immunocompromised people and the elderly. Certain medications for cancer and arthritis can also diminish the immune system and put people at higher risk of severe disease.
If I have specific questions, what can I do?
Your primary care physician is a great resource for specific questions or if you or a family member is ill.