COVID-19 FAQs: Information about coronavirus (COVID-19)
- COVID-19 Help Center
- COVID-19 FAQs: Information about coronavirus (COVID-19)
A: The World Health Organization describes coronavirus (SARS-CoV-1 virus) as an infectious disease that primarily causes respiratory illness. Since December 2019 when it was first detected, COVID-19 infection spread rapidly throughout the world, causing a pandemic. Severity of illness can vary, with most people having mild to moderate respiratory symptoms. Other people have more severe illness and outcomes; some linked to preexisting conditions. Since 2020, COVID-19 illness has caused more than 1 million deaths in the United States and nearly 7 million deaths worldwide (as of August 2023).
Coronavirus continues to mutate into new variants, some more infectious than others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies and tracks new COVID-19 variants that are detected in the U.S. Genomic sequencing provides information about the variants, and using that information, along with community infection rates, the CDC projects which variant(s) may cause greater proportion of illness. This information helps direct development of treatments and vaccine targets, and provides insights into which variant(s) are causing illness in areas of the U.S.
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus is spread when an infected person breathes out small droplets or airborne particles containing COVID-19. These droplets can infect others when they are breathed in, or through contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. Coronavirus is not effectively transmitted on surfaces.
A: Face mask use has evolved during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, face mask use is optional in many settings, although that can change dependent on increased levels of COVID-19 infection and hospitalizations in communities. (See LVHN.org/visitation for masking guidance at our hospitals and office locations.) If you are immunocompromised or have a medical condition that puts you at higher risk for severe illness if you become infected with COVID-19, you may choose to wear a face mask to reduce your exposure.
Surgical masks and N95 respirators are effective in preventing COVID-19 transmission. This means two things:
- When you are infected, wearing a mask or respirator reduces the chances you will spread the infection to those around you (this is known as source control).
- When you are in crowds or gatherings, a mask or respirator can reduce your risk of getting infected.
A: When possible, distance yourself from others. This includes utilizing home delivery/online ordering whenever possible and keeping 6 feet of physical distance between you and from others.
All people should be mindful of hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly as proven ways to reduce chances of becoming infected with COVID-19 or other viral or bacterial illnesses.
A: COVID-19 can cause illness ranging from mild upper respiratory symptoms (like a cold) to causing death. Severe disease can occur requiring hospitalization, oxygen support, and mechanical ventilation. Some individuals, especially children, can develop multi-system inflammatory syndrome (also known as MIS-C) which can be fatal. Certain common medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension can increase a person’s risk for developing severe disease. In addition, many some people after recovering from COVID may have after-effects that last many months such as fatigue, brain fog, muscle and joint pains, known as “long COVID.”
A: Mild COVID-19 symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
For people with preexisting conditions that put them at risk for more severe COVID-19 symptoms, there are some prescription treatments that your primary care doctor can prescribe for you, if it is determined you would benefit from this type of intervention.
Those treatments include:
Paxlovid, an oral antiviral medication that must be started within five days of COVID-19 symptom onset.
Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral medication that must be started within five days of COVID-19 symptom onset.
Remdesivir, an intravenous (IV) antiviral medication that must be started within seven days of COVID-19 symptom onset.