What is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
A novel (new) coronavirus with origins from bats. The disease abbreviated COVID-19, is not that same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. This novel coronavirus strain is capable of causing more severe respiratory disease than previously circulating coronaviruses. Due to the severity of the disease caused by COVID-19 new recommendations for screening and isolation of these patients are recommended.
What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to many viral respiratory illnesses and mimic the common cold. Symptoms include:
- Mild to severe respiratory illness
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
Symptoms can appear between two and 14 days after exposure to the virus. But it’s important to keep in mind that it is flu season and pollen counts are high across our region, so there may be other reasons you’re experiencing upper respiratory symptoms that are more common than COVID-19.
How is COVID-19 spread?
The most common way COVID-19 is spread is from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. What does that mean specifically? When people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and someone with the virus coughs or sneezes and then another person inhales it, or droplets from the cough or sneeze land on commonly used surfaces. Others who come into contact with those surfaces or objects and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth could contract the virus.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
While people are thought to be the most contagious when they are the sickest, some spread might be possible before symptoms are shown. There have been reports of this occurring with COVID-19, but is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread.
How easy is it to spread COVID-19?
How easily a virus can spread from person-to-person contact varies. While some are highly contagious, like measles, others do not spread as easily. That’s why it’s important to practice prevention methods to help sustain the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily in some geographic areas. You may see this referred to as “community spread,” which means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how they became infected.
Who Gets Tested for COVID-19?
Our team offers testing for common coronaviruses through our respiratory viral panel. Remember COVID-19 is a new or a novel coronavirus, so it is not detected in our previous repository methods. We follow the testing recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, which are updated regularly. To test for COVID-19, we must call the Louisiana Department of Health to get approval for testing.
What do I do, if I think I have Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Call your healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.