Who is at risk of getting COVID-19?

Everyone. If you are exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), you can contract it. While COVID-19 is a very serious infection and cases in Colorado are at an all-time high. Taking precautions to protect yourself and your community has never been more crucial.

People of any age can get Covid-19, even healthy young adults. However, certain groups are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 and suffering serious complications. Older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at a higher risk. If you fall into the high-risk category, it is especially important to take extra precautions and practice social distancing to prevent contracting the coronavirus.

What can I do to prevent COVID-19?

COVID-19 has caused a pandemic because it spreads so easily. It primarily spreads through respiratory droplets, which can come directly from a contagious person or a surface their droplets landed on. It is important to remember that people who are infected but not showing symptoms can still spread the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these are the most important ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. The mask should have two or more layers of fabric that is washable and breathable, and the mask should fight snugly on your face.
  • Social distance by staying at least 6 feet (or about two full arm lengths) away from others who you do not live with and avoiding crowds.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when handwashing with soap and water is not an option.

What symptoms should I look out for? 

The most common coronavirus symptoms are a fever of 100 or higher combined with a cough or shortness of breath. Other potential signs may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea

These symptoms can start anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. If you are having difficulty breathing at any time and feel it is a true medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.

What is the difference between the Flu and COVID-19? 

Both influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than the flu and cause more serious of an illness in some people. Flu and COVID share many symptoms, but loss of taste and smell and shortness of breath or difficult breathing are markers of COVID-19. 

If you are experiencing any signs of a respiratory illness, stay at home and watch your symptoms. Focus on getting rest and staying hydrated. If symptoms get worse, reach out to your health care provider. You may be able to set up a virtual care appointment and get tested for the coronavirus. (Symptoms such as fever, fatigue and body aches can occur with both illnesses, so it is just as important to seek out medical care if you have symptoms of the flu).

**If your symptoms are severe, you should go to the nearest emergency department**

Current CDC recommendations say you should get tested if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive. In this instance, close contact means you have been within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or more.

Are there any treatments available for COVID-19? 

Currently, there is no cure for COVID-19, however vaccines are available. Follow the latest vaccine information here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or NSAIDs may help alleviate fever and body aches related to COVID-19. Over-the-counter nasal decongestants and throat lozenges may help with symptoms of nasal congestion and sore throat. Before taking any over-the-counter medications, we recommend consulting with your health care provider.

How does the coronavirus test work? 

It is a simple nasal swab test. Using an applicator, the lab will swab your nose to collect a sample. 

Testing is time-sensitive, too. The most accurate windows for virus testing are between five and seven days after possible exposure to COVID-19. For the flu, tests should be done within the first 48 hours after the illness begins for available antiviral treatments to be effective.

Do I need to quarantine after getting tested for COVID-19?

If you have not been vaccinated, you should immediately self-quarantine after being tested, stay in your home and minimize contact with others until you get the results. It takes about 3–5 business days for us to get results back, but depending on test volume it could be as long as 7–10 days. As soon as we have results, we will contact you.

What if someone I know lives in a nursing home? Should they be tested for COVID-19?

Most of our local nursing homes are doing careful screening of all potential guests and significantly limiting visitors. Anyone with known exposure or illness will not be allowed in. This is an attempt to prevent the virus from entering the care facility. While there are coronavirus outbreaks in facilities in Colorado, not all senior center or nursing home residents require testing unless they have symptoms. These terms and conditions may vary by the facility and their corporation’s compliance guidelines for COVID-19.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, take the following steps to protect others regardless of your COVID-19 vaccination status. Isolate at home and away from others for at least 10 days.

  • If you do not have any symptoms, you should still isolate at home for at least 10 days.
  • If you develop symptoms, continue to isolate for at least 10 days after symptoms began as long as symptoms have improved, and no fever is present for at least 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Most people have mild COVID-19 illness and can recover at home without medical care.

Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you are more likely to get very sick because of being an older adult or having underlying medical conditions or if your symptoms get worse.