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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Important things to know about COVID-19*

Symptoms, How it Spreads, How to Protect Yourself and Others, What to do if Exposed or Sick, Getting Tested, Vaccine Awareness, Disability Awareness and Seeking Emergency Care

What is COVID-19? 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a viral illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms can range from mild or no symptoms to severe illness or even death. 
 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

Based on what is currently known about COVID-19, the virus can affect people in many different ways. Listed below are common symptoms for COVID-19. However, it is important to note that someone with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic

Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with any of the following symptoms may have COVID-19:  

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 


If someone is showing any of these emergency warning signs listed below, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Confusion  

How does the virus spread?

COVID-19 is believed to spread person to person through respiratory droplets, which can spread to people who are nearby or be inhaled into the lungs. The virus primarily spreads when people are in close contact, specifically when individuals are within six feet of each other. It is also possible that COVID-19 can be spread by a person touching a surface with the virus on it, then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. While this is not believed to be the main way COVID-19 is spread, research is still ongoing to better understand the virus. 

 

How can I protect myself from the virus? 

There are many precautionary measures that can be taken to avoid exposure to COVID-19.  

  1. Stay at least 6 feet apart from other people whenever possible. 
  2. Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people that do not live in their household, especially when social distancing is difficult. The CDC does not recommend the use of masks or cloth masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.  

Note: masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, individuals who have difficulty breathing, as well as individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove a mask without assistance. 

  1. 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.
  2. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. These surfaces include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.


How do I wear a mask correctly?

Here are steps to wearing a mask correctly.  

  • First, your hands before putting on your mask. 
  • Next, the mask should be placed over your nose and mouth and secured under your chin. 
  • Finally, the mask should cover both your nose and mouth entirely, fitting snugly against the sides of your face. Make sure you can breathe easily.

 

What should I do if I contract COVID-19 or think I have been exposed to the virus?

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you have been exposed to the virus, follow the steps below to care for yourself, and help protect other people in your home and community. 

  1. Stay home, rest, and stay hydrated. Avoid going out in public except to receive medical care. If you do go out, avoid public transportation, taxis, or ride-sharing. 
  2. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth. If possible, use a separate bathroom and remain in a separate room as much as possible.
  3. Let people close to you know if you are sick with COVID-19 or may have been exposed. Distance yourself as much as possible from other people and pets to avoid spreading the virus. 
  4. Follow health care instructions from your medical provider and local health department. Local health authorities may give instructions on checking symptoms and reporting this information.
  5. Call ahead before visiting a health care provider to let them know you are sick with COVID-19 or think you have been exposed to the virus. There also may be testing sites in the community. For more information on test sites near you, visit https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/find-covid-19-testing-in-nevada/
  6. Cover your coughs and sneezes, throwing away tissues immediately after use. 
  7. Wash your hands often for 20 seconds using soap. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  8. Avoid sharing personal household items such as dishes, utensils, cups, towels, or beds with other people. Wash these items thoroughly after use. 
  9. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day. If possible, clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your “sick room” and bathroom while wearing disposable gloves. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas to avoid spreading the virus.
  10. Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately: 
    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion
    • Inability to wake or stay awake
    • Bluish lips or face 

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility. Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

 

What do I do if I feel sick? 

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, let your healthcare provider know ahead of time that you may have come in contact with the virus to identify the safest way to access care. Keep track of your symptoms and social distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you experience emergency warning signs, get emergency medical care immediately.

 

When should I get tested? 

Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or if you have been asked or referred to get tested by your healthcare provider or the local health department. While awaiting your pending test results, you should self-quarantine or isolate at home and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider or local health department. 

 

What do I do if someone in my household gets sick? 

If someone in your household gets sick, stay at least six feet apart as much as you can. If possible, use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members. The person who is sick should also wear a clean disposable mask at home if these are available. If possible, their caregiver should not be someone who is at elevated risk for severe symptoms due to COVID-19. 

 

When should I seek emergency care if I have COVID-19? 

Some individuals may need emergency medical care. Monitor symptoms and watch for emergency warning signs* such as 

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face 

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. 

Notify the health care provider or emergency responder ahead of time that the individual has or may have COVID-19. 

 

What should I do if I have a disability? 

Some people with disabilities may be at higher risk of contracting or experiencing severe illness from COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions. Speak with your health care provider regarding questions you may have about your health and the management of your health condition(s). If you have a direct service provider, tell them to wash their hands before and after touching you. Also, request that they clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces, including countertops, wheelchairs, toilets, phones, oxygen tanks, etc.

 

When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available? 

In the United States, there is currently no authorized or approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Vaccine development and testing are ongoing. A vaccine may become available in upcoming months for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  
 

Will a flu vaccine protect me from COVID-19?

A flu vaccine will not protect you from contracting COVID-19. However, it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19. This can keep you from having a more severe illness if you do contract COVID-19.

 

What increases the risk of COVID-19?*

Who is Most at Risk & Pre-Existing Conditions


Who is at most risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19?

While all individuals can contract COVID-19 and experience severe illness or even death, some groups are at elevated risk. These populations include: 

  • Older adults
  • Individuals living with underlying medical conditions 

Other people who need extra precautions 

  • Racial and ethnic minority groups
  • Pregnant individuals and those who plan to breastfeed
  • People with disabilities
  • People with developmental and behavioral disorders 
  • People with drug use and substance use disorder 

What are some medical conditions that put individuals at higher risk for COVID-19?

Several medical conditions have been identified as putting adults at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Adults of any age with the following conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19: 

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Heart conditions
  • Immunocompromised state
  • Obesity
  • Severe obesity
  • Sickle cell disease 
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes


Research is ongoing to identify other medical conditions that put individuals at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what is currently known, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Cerebrovascular disease 
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight 
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis 
  • Thalassemia 
  • Type 1 diabetes 

Why have certain groups been impacted more by COVID-19?*

Racial/Ethnic Groups, LGBTQ+ and Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind Communities


How are racial and ethnic minority groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19?

Long-term systemic and social inequity experienced by racial and ethnic minority groups has put many people at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. Inequities in social determinants of health, such as poverty and access to care affect these groups influence several health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Risk factors that contribute to this inequity include:

Discrimination. Discrimination exists in systems such as health care, housing, education, criminal justice, and finance. Discrimination can lead to chronic and toxic stress and shape social and economic factors, resulting in racial and ethnic minority populations being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

Access to Health Care. Racial and ethnic minority groups experience lower access to health insurance, decreasing access to treatment, and testing for COVID-19. Access to care is also worsened due to racial and ethnic discrimination, which may worsen the quality of care and increase distrust among racial and ethnic minority groups. Language barriers and cultural differences may also result in lower access to quality health care.

Occupation. People from some racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in essential work settings, leaving them at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. Other factors include lower access to paid sick days, close contact with others in the workplace, or the inability to work from home. 

Education and economic status. Inequity in access to education and socioeconomic status often results in lower-paying or less stable jobs among racial and ethnic minority populations. This often leaves racial and minority populations at a higher risk of exposure to coronavirus. People in these situations often cannot afford to miss work even if they are ill, contributing to lower health outcomes and higher spread rates of COVID-19.

Housing. In some cultures, multi-generational living arrangements are common. Some people from racial and ethnic minority groups may live in crowded living conditions as well, which can interfere with the following prevention guidelines. The risk of unemployment may also result in eviction, which may result in homelessness or shared housing.  


How has the LGBTQI community been impacted by COVID-19?

The LGBTQI community has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. COVID-19 poses risk to the LGBTQI population due to lower access to health services, lower prioritization of health services such as HIV testing or treatment, lower access to employment or socioeconomic stability, and elevated rates of domestic violence and abuse.  

Access to Health Services: Stigma and discrimination often occur when LGBTQI individuals seek health care, leading to lower access to quality care. This discrimination can elevate the risk of LGBTI people from COVID-19. 

Lower prioritization of required health services: Overloaded health systems have resulted in the interruption and lower prioritization of treatment of LGBTQI for other illnesses, including HIV treatment and testing or hormonal treatment for trans people. This may be worsened due to stigmatization and discrimination. 

Domestic violence and abuse: Due to social distancing and at times stay-at-home restrictions, LGBTQI people are at higher risk for exposure to mistreatment from unsupportive family members and co-habitants. This can increase exposure to violence, as well as mental health difficulties.  

Low access to employment or socioeconomic stability: LGBTQI people experience unemployment and poverty at elevated rates, leading to lower access to necessities such as food and medicine, lower access to paid sick leave, inability to obtain unemployment compensation, and healthcare coverage.


How has the deaf and blind community been impacted by COVID-19?

COVID-19 has significantly impacted the deaf and blind community, reducing this population’s ability to communicate with others and safely travel to access essentials such as groceries, medicine, or household supplies. The unintended consequences of masking requirements have further limited the ability of certain communities to communicate.  Face coverings don’t just affect those who lipread; studies have shown that 60-70% of communication is based on non-verbal cues from lip patterns and facial expressions, which are essential for anyone with communication difficulties. Furthermore, touch is critical to daily functioning for the deaf and blind community but causes significant risk for contagion. 

The lack of alternative support for interpretation or mask with a clear window in medical, work, and school settings has made it increasingly difficult for this community to feel accommodated.

 

Debunking Myths*

Do masks work to protect from the virus?

Wearing a mask is very effective at reducing the spread of the virus. While current research suggests that wearing a cloth mask will not prevent you from breathing in respiratory droplets that carry a virus such as COVID-19, wearing a mask will help to protect others if you happen to be infected with or without symptoms. In this way, you wear your mask to protect others, while they wear their mask to protect you. 


Why should I wear a mask if I feel fine? 

A mask should be worn even if you or someone else feels fine, unless under the age of 2 or if a medical reason interferes with your ability to wear a mask. Research has shown that a significant portion of individuals who have the coronavirus do not show any symptoms. Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, with many individuals experiencing no physical symptoms of the virus during this time. In this way, the virus can be active and spread even if you or someone else currently feels fine. 


Is COVID-19 different from the flu?
 

COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than the flu. Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. While both are contagious respiratory illnesses with some similar symptoms,  COVID-19 poses an elevated risk for a number of individuals infected, the severity of symptoms, and severe health complications. 

COVID-19 versus Flu

SIMILARITIES

  • Both are contagious, respiratory illnesses
  • Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle/body aches
  • 1 or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and when she/he starts to experience symptoms
  • It’s possible to spread the virus for at least a day before experiencing symptoms
  • Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person to person.
  • Both are spread by droplets made when people with the illness cough, sneeze or talk.
  • It may be possible that a person can get infected by physical human contact, or by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching his/her own mouth, nose or eyes.

DIFFERENCES

  • COVID-19 causes more serious illnesses in some people.
  • People can be contagious for longer with COVID-19 and can take longer to show symptoms.
  • There is a vaccine for the Flu, but no vaccine for COVID-19.
  • For the flu, a person typically develops symptoms 1-4 days after infection.
  • For COVID-19, the time range can vary, but a person typically develops symptoms 5 days after infection, however, symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection.
  • COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu.
  • Most people who get the flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks.
  • Influenza antiviral drugs are FDA approved and prescribed to treat the flu.
  • There are currently no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the FDA to prevent or treat COVID-19.

The CDC does not recommend alternative face coverings. Evaluation of these face coverings is on-going, but their effectiveness is currently unknown. For this reason, it is recommended to use a standard cloth mask.

What is herd immunity?

‘Herd immunity’ or ‘population immunity’ refers to a population having a high level of immunity where a disease cannot spread if introduced. While individuals can still be infected, the population is protected from large outbreaks, and this in turn protects the members of the population from being exposed. 


What is herd immunity by vaccination?

Every single person in a population does not need to be vaccinated to be protected to achieve herd immunity. Vulnerable groups who cannot get vaccinated are kept safe if enough other people are vaccinated. In this way, herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus using a vaccine and not by exposing them to it. 


What is herd immunity by natural infection?

For some diseases, herd immunity can be reached by natural infection if a sufficient number of individuals in that population have recovered from the disease and developed antibodies to prevent future infection. However, it is not clear if becoming infected by coronavirus makes an individual immune from future infections. 


Why don’t we just let herd immunity occur by natural infection?

If coronavirus spreads freely in an attempt to achieve herd immunity, severe increases in death rates, and various unintended consequences would occur. While many individuals would recover after infection, mass infection would lead to a significantly higher likelihood of death, which is likely to affect at-risk populations disproportionately. Even if coronavirus creates long-lasting immunity, an estimated 70% of the United States population would have to become infected for herd immunity to occur. This could lead to millions of deaths and severe health complications, especially among at-risk populations. This would also likely overwhelm the United States healthcare system, reducing access to care and negatively impacting health outcomes for COVID-19. To avoid further loss of human life, herd immunity should be only attempted by vaccination, not by mass natural infection. 

What is herd immunity?

‘Herd immunity’ or ‘population immunity’ refers to a population having a high level of immunity where a disease cannot spread if introduced. While individuals can still be infected, the population is protected from large outbreaks, and this in turn protects the members of the population from being exposed. 


What is herd immunity by vaccination?

Every single person in a population does not need to be vaccinated to be protected to achieve herd immunity. Vulnerable groups who cannot get vaccinated are kept safe if enough other people are vaccinated. In this way, herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus using a vaccine and not by exposing them to it. 


What is herd immunity by natural infection?

For some diseases, herd immunity can be reached by natural infection if a sufficient number of individuals in that population have recovered from the disease and developed antibodies to prevent future infection. However, it is not clear if becoming infected by coronavirus makes an individual immune from future infections. 


Why don’t we just let herd immunity occur by natural infection?

If coronavirus spreads freely in an attempt to achieve herd immunity, severe increases in death rates, and various unintended consequences would occur. While many individuals would recover after infection, mass infection would lead to a significantly higher likelihood of death, which is likely to affect at-risk populations disproportionately. Even if coronavirus creates long-lasting immunity, an estimated 70% of the United States population would have to become infected for herd immunity to occur. This could lead to millions of deaths and severe health complications, especially among at-risk populations. This would also likely overwhelm the United States healthcare system, reducing access to care and negatively impacting health outcomes for COVID-19. To avoid further loss of human life, herd immunity should be only attempted by vaccination, not by mass natural infection. 

 

REFERENCES

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020j). People with Disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-disabilities.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020k). How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020l). 8 Things to Know about Vaccine Planning. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/8-things.html

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Herd immunity and COVID-19 (coronavirus): What you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/herd-immunity-and-coronavirus/art-20486808

World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Herd immunity, lockdowns and COVID-19. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/herd-immunity-lockdowns-and-covid-19

United Nations Human Rights. (2020). COVID-19 AND THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF LGBTI PEOPLE. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/LGBT/LGBTIpeople.pdf

Grote, H., & Izagaren, F. (2020). Covid-19: The communication needs of D/deaf healthcare workers and patients are being forgotten. Bmj. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2372.https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2372

FLU vs. COVID Chart– https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm