WHAT IS COVID-19
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses such as:
The common cold,
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
In 2019, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak that originated in China.
The virus is now known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
WHO IS MONITORING COVID-19
Public health groups, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO, are monitoring the pandemic and posting updates on their websites. These groups have also issued recommendations for preventing and treating the illness.
COVID-19 SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Signs and symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may appear two to 14 days after exposure. This time after exposure and before having symptoms is called the incubation period. Common signs and symptoms can include:
EARLY SIGNS OF COVID-19
Early symptoms of COVID-19 may include a loss of taste or smell.
Other symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Chest pain
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
This list is not all inclusive. Other less common symptoms have been reported, such as rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.
The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe.
Some people may have only a few symptoms, and some people may have no symptoms at all.
Some people may experience worsened symptoms, such as worsened shortness of breath and pneumonia, about a week after symptoms start.
INDIVIDUALS AT HIGH RISK
People who are older have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and the risk increases with age. People who have existing chronic medical conditions also may have a higher risk of serious illness. Certain medical conditions that increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 include:
- Serious heart diseases, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Obesity or severe obesity
- Chronic kidney disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Weakened immune system from solid organ transplants
CONDITIONS THAT CAN INCREASE RISK
Other conditions may increase the risk of serious illness, such as:
- Liver disease
- Chronic lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis or pulmonary fibrosis
- Brain and nervous system conditions
- Weakened immune system from bone marrow transplant, HIV or some medications
- Type 1 diabetes
- High blood pressure
This list is not all inclusive. Other underlying medical conditions may increase your risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or you’ve been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor or clinic right away for medical advice. Tell your health care team about your symptoms and possible exposure before you go to your appointment.
WHEN YOU HAVE EMERGENCY COVID-19 SIGNS
If you have emergency COVID-19 signs and symptoms, seek care immediately. Emergency signs and symptoms can include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent chest pain or pressure
- Inability to stay awake
- New confusion
- Blue lips or face
DURING THE PANDEMIC
If you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, contact your doctor or clinic for guidance. Let your doctor know if you have other chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or lung disease. During the pandemic, it’s important to make sure health care is available for those in greatest need.
SHOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR THE HOLDAYS?
Want to head home for the holidays? You may need to reconsider your travel plans because of the pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a White House coronavirus adviser, said during a recent that his children, who live in separate states across the country, won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving due to the fear of possibly spreading the virus.
Travel increases your risk of contracting and spreading the virus, according to a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious diseases specialist.
Dr. Rajapakse talks about holiday travel.
IF YOU DECIDE TO TRAVEL
If you decide to travel, try to avoid crowded transportation hubs such as airports. Be extremely cautious, especially in the 14 days prior to getting together with loved ones. People who are at increased risk for illness should avoid in-person gatherings.
IF YOU ARE SICK
If you are sick or you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, stay home except to get medical care. Contact your health care provider for medical advice or use Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool.
COVID-19 and the holidays: 5 things to consider before participating in group gatherings
For your safety and that of others, consider the following when making decisions about how to connect with others and help one another find ways to foster those connections safely:
- People are most contagious for COVID-19 just prior to symptom onset. So people who look and act completely healthy could actually be contagious for COVID-19.
- Whenever food and drink are served, people cannot be masked, and this increases the risk of transmission.
- When people need to speak loudly because of physical distance or background noise, droplets travel farther than usual.
- Alcohol relaxes inhibitions and contributes to louder talking and lapses in distancing.
- Transmission occurs outdoors as well as indoors.