COVID-19: What You Need to Know
Answering Houston’s Top Questions
We have learned many things about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since its emergence in the United States in January 2020. St. Elizabeth’s is here to answer the most commonly asked questions about the novel COVID-19 virus so that you can be well informed during this unprecedented time. Our urgent care clinic is dedicated to providing quick & efficient testing (including COVID blood test & COVID nasal swabs), and compassionate urgent care both in-person and virtually. Read below and if you think you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please call our office to schedule your COVID-19 test today.
1. What is the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses have been around for quite some time and are nothing new to the medical world. Coronaviruses can be found in humans and animals and are typically about as common as your common cold. Some examples of other coronaviruses that you may be familiar with include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), Severe Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), and our current coronavirus that’s caused 2020’s global pandemic: SARS Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).
2. Why is COVID-19 Spreading so Quickly?
COVID-19, like other coronaviruses, mainly attacks our respiratory system. What we are learning, however, is that COVID-19 is also wreaking havoc on other organ systems in our body which is why we are fighting non-stop to put an end to the spread. Since COVID-19 affects our respiratory system, it’s easily spread through talking, coughing, sneezing, and/or breathing. If you come into contact with an infected person’s droplets in any way, shape, or form, you’re ultimately increasing your chances of contracting the virus yourself.
3. How Long Does it Take for COVID-19 Symptoms to Appear and What’s the Incubation Period?
The incubation period is the amount of time between exposure to a virus (or bacteria) and development of symptoms. The incubation period for COVID-19 ranges from 1-14 days. It’s most commonly identified between days 5-6 post COVID-19 exposure. In some rare cases, it has taken longer than 14 days for symptoms to appear.
4. What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
Although symptoms of COVID-19 vary from person to person, some of the most common symptoms include fever, chills, loss of taste, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, headache, nausea/vomiting, sore throat, runny nose, and overall fatigue. Not every infected person will experience every symptom, which is what makes diagnosing + treating the virus very challenging. In fact, some people have shown no symptoms at all. Fever, dry cough, and tiredness are the 3 most common COVID-19 symptoms if they do appear.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate! Call St. Elizabeth’s Urgent Care to schedule your COVID-19 test now.
5. How Effective are Face Masks and When Should I Wear One?
Given the information we’ve learned about COVID-19 since it took over the world, we now know and understand that face masks do in fact help control the spread of COVID-19. Most establishments are now requiring face masks prior to entry into their buildings, so carrying a mask with you at all times is recommended.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the general public wear cloth face masks as these masks can block viral droplets emitted when the mask wearer speaks, coughs, sneezes or exhales. The CDC recommends that masks be worn by everyone to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by people who are infected but don’t realize it (it’s estimated that there are many asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases). Masks should be worn in public settings when social distancing may not be possible, or whenever you’re meeting new people. It’s important to wash & sanitize your mask regularly to ensure optimal efficacy.
6. How Often Should You Wash Your Hands?
It’s smart to wash your hands with soap and water whenever possible. After visiting the restroom, eating, drinking, smoking, working, sneezing, etc.
7. How Long Should I Wash My Hands?
A full 20 seconds of handwashing with soap and water is the golden standard when it comes to proper hand washing practices. We recommend singing your ABC’s while washing your hands so that you’re guaranteed to get the full benefit of proper handwashing. You may think your hands are clean, however, some germs take much longer to wash away than others.
8. Who is Most Susceptible to COVID-19?
Although anyone is susceptible to catching the virus, the elderly and those with existing immune and/or medical conditions, especially related to the respiratory system, are most at risk and should take extra caution. Pre-existing conditions that may cause people to catch the virus more easily than others include, but are not limited to, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease.
9. Are Asymptomatic COVID-19 Patients Less Contagious?
It has been estimated that 1/3 of people infected with COVID-19 will never develop symptoms. While this number may change over time as we continue to collect data, infected people without symptoms are still important sources of viral transmission and should be cautious around those with weakened immune systems.