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Facts About COVID-19

Información General
 1      What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an illness that can affect the lungs, heart, and gastrointestinal tract and  spreads from person to person. 

Video en español
de  Clínica Alemana
Video em português
English Video
from Kaiser Permanente


Most people who become infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. This means you can infect others even if you feel perfectly fine. Symptoms develop 2-14 days after exposure, and can include:

  • Most common -  shortness of breath and “cold” symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat)

  • Less common:

    • Digestive symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort)

    • Rapid or irregular heart beats and chest tightness

    • Eye symptoms (sensitivity to light, itchiness and irritation, eye redness and watering)

  • Most worrisome - Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

Population most at risk

  • Elderly patients (>60 years old)

  • Patients with high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and/or patients with debilitated defenses against diseases (e.g. transplant and cancer patients)

  • Children will have milder or no symptoms at all, but can still spread it to other family members

2     How is it trasmitted?

Modes of transmission

  • The main way COVID-19 is spread is by tiny water droplets that come out when people breathe, cough, or sneeze. These droplets normally travel about 6 feet (2 meters).

  • Other ways the virus can be spread include particles that stay in the air (and thus travel further), and through contaminated items (e.g. remotes, counter tops, etc.). The virus can stick to surfaces for days at a time.

  • After exposure, it can take 2-14 days for symptoms to appear. People are contagious both while ill and for some time after they feel "normal" again. It is unclear for precisely how long people can remain contagious once they feel back to normal, but most experts believe it is about 2 weeks. Remember, even if you have no symptoms, you can still spread the virus

3     How can I protect myself?
COVID-19 Prevention 
Stanford Medicine

Prevention measures - The best way to prevent illness is not being exposed to the virus.

Here are the steps you should take to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing or being in any public space. An alternative is to use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Cover all parts of your hands with sanitizer and rub until dry.

  • When entering your home, take your shoes off and wash your hands before you do anything else. 

  • Avoid visitors unless absolutely necessary. If you need to have people over, have them follow the steps above.

  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.

  • Practice social distancing (i.e. stay at home, minimize trips to the grocery store, stay in touch with friends over the phone rather than in person).

  • Avoiding petting pet animals if you feel ill.

  • Use Lysol or other disinfectants on commonly touched surfaces daily (kitchens, bathrooms, work desks, doorknobs, light switches, faucets, phones, computers).

  • Throw used tissues directly in the trash.

I'm Sick
4     What should I do if I am sick?

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have related symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing) call your doctor or healthcare center. See the CDC "Self-Checker" for detailed guidance on what to do if you are feeling ill and worried about COVID-19 exposure.

If you have mild symptoms your doctor will likely recommend you stay at home and:

  • Avoid any close contact with other people

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow 

  • Separate yourself from other people and animals at your home

  • Do not share personal household items, such as cups, dishes and utensils

  • If you must leave the house or be around other people, wear a face mask

5     Common Myths about COVID-19



MYTH: I am young and healthy, so I don’t need to worry about COVID

FALSE. Young, healthy adults are less likely to get very sick from COVID-19, but some will need to be in the hospital, and some do die of the disease. They can also spread the virus to older people or those of any age with underlying medical conditions, and these groups are very likely to become seriously ill.


MYTH: A vaccine for COVID-19 is available

FALSE. There is no vaccine available now for COVID-19, but researchers have started working on one.

MYTH: COVID-19 cannot be transmitted in hot and humid climates

FALSE. The virus can be transmitted in ALL areas, including in hot and humid climates. So no matter where you live, take precautions to reduce infection and transmission. The virus lives longer in colder climates but can also survive in warmer environments.


MYTH: COVID-19 does not cause a runny nose, so if you have a runny nose you are not infected

FALSE. While COVID-19 itself does not cause a runny nose, it is very possible to have both COVID-19 and allergies or a cold that cause a runny nose. COVID-19 itself may also cause the body to produce more mucous.


MYTH: COVID-19 can be prevented by gargling with a solution of salt in water, vinegar, or drinking warm liquids

FALSE. There is no proof that these remedies work. Hand washing, frequent cleaning of commonly used surfaces and items, and social distancing are the best ways to protect yourself and others from the virus.


MYTH: COVID-19 only presents itself with cold or flu-like symptoms

FALSE. While it is true that COVID-19 usually starts with a cough and/or flu-like symptoms, it can also present itself with diarrhea, chest tightness, a racing heart and/or red eyes. Loss of sense of taste or smell may also be a sign of COVID-19 infection.


MYTH: Simple check for coronavirus - If I hold my breath for 10 seconds without coughing or experiencing any discomfort, then I do not have COVID-19

FALSE. Remember, people with the virus can feel perfectly normal or have mild symptoms. The only way to confirm whether or not you have coronavirus is to be tested in a hospital or clinic. If you have symptoms that you feel may be from COVID-19, you should act as if you have it, self-quarantine, and follow the steps outlined in "What should I do if I am sick?"

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