Coronavirus (COVID-19 infection)

Human coronavirus, including the strain that causes COVID-19 infection, can cause a range of symptoms from cold-like to severe lung infection.

There are seven strains of human coronavirus. Four cause common cold-like symptoms, and the other three can cause much more severe lung infections, such as pneumonia. The three more serious types are SARS-CoV-1 virus, MERS virus and the most recent one named SARS-CoV-2, which is currently causing a worldwide outbreak of infections and is referred to as COVID-19.

Where did COVID-19 come from?

The newest strain arose in China in December 2019 and is a bat strain of the coronavirus that mutated so it can now infect humans. Because the world’s population lacks immunity to the virus, and there is no current vaccine against it, COVID-19 infection spread wildly throughout China in December 2019 and January 2020.

This virus is spread through coughing, sneezing and spending time in close proximity to someone who is sick with COVID-19 infection (including those who may not show symptoms). The incubation period after exposure is between 2-14 days.

Symptoms

What are symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

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 may have COVID-19:

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

This list does not include all possible symptoms. Check the CDC website for the latest symptoms.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Stay home if you think you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. We are providing online and phone pre-screenings. You can:

We want to screen you via these technologies so that you remain in your own home and only need to leave if testing is needed. This pre-screening helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 and it helps keep your doctor's office open and available to provide other important care.

During the pre-screening, if our medical professionals determine you have COVID-19 symptoms, you will be directed to an LVHN COVID-19 Assess and Test locations. You will qualify for a test ONLY if you have COVID-19 symptoms. The test detects active disease and cannot determine if you have been exposed. It is important to note that tests are reserved for those who need them most. 

Learn more about LVHN COVID-19 Testing and Care.

If you are sick, you also need to take precautions with those in your household:

  • Separate yourself from family members and pets.
  • Wear a face mask. If you cannot wear a mask or have difficulty wearing one, your family member should wear a mask when within 6-feet of you. (They will need to be mindful of avoiding cross-contamination when removing the mask.) 
  • Cover your cough for the well-being of your family.
  • Clean "high touch" fixtures every day (doorknobs, bathroom surfaces). 

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

Although investigational drug studies are currently underway, at present there are no antiviral medications approved in the U.S. to treat or prevent COVID-19. Treatments that are currently used for patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are to help address symptoms such as fever or secondary bacterial pneumonia. 

It is important to rest and stay hydrated. Consult with your primary care provider about using over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce your fever.

Preventing COVID-19 infection

How can I protect myself from COVID-19, or other viruses?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds all people to follow “respiratory hygiene,” meaning if you sneeze or cough, do so into the crook of your elbow to stop expelled droplets from traveling into the air. Regularly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

The CDC also recommends you:

  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth)
  • Avoid being in close proximity to people who are sick. Keep at least 6-feet away from other people.
  • Wear a face mask when you are unable to be socially distant from others.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, or using a tissue to catch a sneeze, cough or blow your nose
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces (refrigerator door handle, microwave, remote control, telephone, doorknobs, etc.)

I can’t find hand sanitizer, what should I do?

The best way to clean your hands is with soap and water. It is important to wash your hands long enough (20 seconds) to help remove germs from your skin and fingernails.

The CDC recommends these five steps:

  1. Wet your hands and then apply soap
  2. Lather your hands, including between your fingers and under nails
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds (Sing Happy Birthday song twice)
  4. Rinse hands under clean, running water
  5. Dry your hands with clean towel or air dry them

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