Frequently Asked Questions
What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it.
Who can become infected with COVID-19?
Anyone can become infected, all ages, races, ethnicities, all geographic regions.
A person infected with COVID-19 can be symptom free, but can infect others. We call those individuals carriers. That is why social distancing is essential.
Certain groups are at higher risk of becoming infected:
- A person who has recently traveled to areas that have high rates of infection
- A person who has had close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19
These groups are at higher risk of severe illness if they are infected:
- Those with chronic health conditions: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure
- Older adults (60 years or older)
How does the virus spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How is it treated?
There is no specific medicine to treat COVID-19 infection at this time, though studies are underway. People sick with COVID-19 should receive supportive care from a health care professional. Supportive care means care to help relieve symptoms; for example, medicine to bring down fevers, or oxygen if a patient’s oxygen level is low.
How is COVID-19 diagnosed?
Diagnosis occurs through laboratory testing of respiratory specimens and serum (blood).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 symptoms typically appear 2 to 14 days after a person is exposed to the virus. Symptoms are very similar to flu and include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
Should I go to my doctor and get tested for COVID-19?
If you have any of the conditions that may increase your risk for a serious viral infection—age 60 years or over, are pregnant, or have medical conditions—call your physician’s office and ask if you need to be evaluated in person. They may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for influenza.
If you do not have a high-risk condition and your symptoms are mild, you do not need to be evaluated in person and do not need to be tested for COVID-19. There are currently no medications to treat COVID-19.
What should I do to keep infection from spreading in my family and community?
Stay home except to get medical care.
You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty.
Clean your hands often.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water is preferred if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Monitor your symptoms.
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call Friend Health and tell them that your symptoms are consistent with COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before you enter the facility. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
Additional information is available below.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Chicago Department of Public Health
World Health Organization