Since the novel coronavirus was discovered and swept over the globe, all aspects of our daily lives have become impacted.
The novel coronavirus, known commonly as COVID-19, is understood to be primarily a respiratory disease. Still, as its only been discovered since 2019, the information and understanding we have of the disease are constantly evolving.
While it’s thought to be primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets, COVID-19 has been shown to linger on physical surfaces for various lengths of time. The most common form of transmission is in close contact with an infected individual, whether they exhibit symptoms or not (asymptomatic) and through respiratory droplets that occur during breathing, speech, or coughing.
Less common transmission and infection methods are related to indoor activities with poor ventilation, such as at a restaurant, or through the virus lingering on contaminated surfaces and then being touched by a person who then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Why does this less common type of infection matter? Well, it’s projected that the average person touches their face on average of 16 times a day, from itching and scratching, nervous energy, or even adjusting eyeglasses or contact lenses. The key to preventing transmission from a contaminated surface is to be diligent in washing your hands with warm water and soap scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
Possible Exposure vs. Close Contact
If you are curious about whether you may be exposed to the novel coronavirus, understand that your risk for infection is different between whether you may have possible exposure or whether you were in close contact with an infected person. One of the best ways to mitigate exposure risks is to wear a mask, only operate outdoors when possible, and avoid being closer than 6 feet to anyone not directly from your immediate household.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) claims that transmission often requires close contact versus just being exposed to an infected person. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a duration of 15 minutes over 24 hours. Those 15 minutes don’t need to be at the same time. In fact, it’s 15 minutes cumulative over a 24-hour window that is considered close contact.
Due to the nature of COVID-19 transmission, some activities such as exercise, talking in a noisy room, or singing may extend the distance between an infected person and others.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Symptoms from COVID-19 may be minor to severe. Some infected exhibit symptoms, while almost half of the infected persons don’t exhibit any symptoms but are still contagious. In general, symptoms will appear within 2-7 days of infection, with day 5 being the average, though symptoms may occur up to 14 days later.
A full list of COVID-19 symptoms is listed on the CDC website and state and local public health. The most common symptoms resemble those of a common cold or flu, making self-diagnosis difficult and not recommended.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Fever and chills
- Body aches and muscular pain
- Sore Throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Shortness of Breath
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
As said previously, many symptoms are similar to the common cold, which is, in fact, another form of coronavirus. It is recommended that if any of these symptoms are present, contact a primary care physician for further guidance. If your doctor is unavailable, you can consider an in-home COVID test. There are many types of coronavirus self test kits on the market right now, of various price and accuracy.
If you believe that you have been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, getting a test is essential, especially as 40% of infected persons may exhibit little or no symptoms themselves. Finding peace of mind is crucial in dealing with the stress that everyone is experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have concerns about close contact, getting tested should be a priority.
If you can’t get to a community or regional testing site, an in-home test can be a great start to alleviating infection concerns. However, if you have a negative test at-home result, it may be recommended that you get a community test and practice safe quarantine procedures until those results return.