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What is COVID-19

​COVID-19 is an abbreviation of Coronavirus Disease 2019, which is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. COVID-19 can feel like a cold, the flu, pneumonia or a combination of those illnesses. Severity of symptoms varies from person to person, but some people can become severely ill. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms, some people also develop a post-COVID condition known as Long COVID.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is mainly spread through person-to-person contact and respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets are produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. These droplets may land on or in the mouths or noses of individuals nearby and then enter the lungs. 

Though it is less common, individuals can also get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object with the virus on it, and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.

How long does COVID-19 live on surfaces?

COVID-19 has been shown to live on surfaces for varying amounts of time. It can last on:

  • Cardboard: up to 24 hours 
  • Plastic: up to 72 hours 
  • Stainless Steel: up to 72 hours 
  • Air particles: up to 3 hours 

Are children at risk?

Everyone is at risk of catching COVID-19, though children do not seem to have the same level of risk as others, according to the Center for Disease Control. However, this does not mean children cannot get a severe case of COVID-19. Medical conditions can increase a child's risk, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Genetic conditions
  • Conditions affecting the nervous system or metabolism

Newborns may be at a higher risk of severe COVID-19. Follow the hospital's safety procedures when you're there for the delivery and be sure to check with your doctor if you test positive for COVID-19 while pregnant.

Are you more at risk if you are pregnant?

According to the CDC, pregnant women are more likely to suffer severe symptoms compared to the general population. Pregnant women are also at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy.

Among adults, who is in the high-risk category for COVID-19?

Those with higher risk include older adults and people who have underlying health conditions such as heart, lung and immune disease.

According to the CDC, the high-risk category includes:

  • Adults 65 years of age and older 
  • Individuals living in nursing homes or long care facilities 
  • Immunocompromised individuals 
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease and a BMI of 30 or higher

What should I do if I think myself or my child has COVID-19?

If you believe an individual in your household may have COVID-19, you should contact your doctor to find out the next steps. Make sure you know all the symptoms you are having and how long you have had them. Knowing those items will help your healthcare provider determine if you need medical care.

Are home rapid antigen tests reliable?

Yes. If the test is done within the first 24-48 hours of the onset of symptoms and is negative, repeating the test a few days later is recommended. If you have a positive home test, you do not need to test at a hospital or clinic, as false positives are extremely unlikely.

How is COVID-19 treated?

Most people, including infants and children, without risk factors or severe symptoms can be treated at home with over-the-counter pain and fever medications. Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and isolate per CDC guidelines.

There is an anti-viral treatment available for COVID-19 that can reduce your chances of hospitalization or death. It is generally reserved for those in high-risk categories or who are severely ill. You must act quickly, however, as anti-viral treatment needs to be started within days of first developing symptoms.

How can you protect your family?

Vaccination is the most effective way for preventing COVID-19. However, there are steps you can take to help reduce exposure.

  • Cleaning your hands frequently with soap and water, or hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, is one of the main ways to reduce exposure. It is especially important to remember to wash your hands after visiting a public place.
  • Improve ventilation in your home. Move indoor activities outdoors, if possible.
  • Routinely disinfecting frequently touched surfaces reduces the spread of bacteria and viruses.
  • Lastly, consider covering your nose and mouth with a mask if you are high risk and will be in public gatherings where you may be in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.​ 

Health and Safety;Illness and Injury;COVID-19