What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 commonly called COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that was first reported from Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Since that time the disease has caused multiple large epidemics in every country throughout the world. While the disease is called COVID-19, the virus is called SARS-CoV-2 and is defined by the signs and symptoms of the illness.
The illness has a wide range of reported symptoms that may include fever, chills, headache, cough, sore throat, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, loss of taste or smell, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
While most people will have mild to moderate illness, some will develop severe illness with persistent high fever, shortness of breath, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, or the inability to stay awake.
Severe illness often requires long term hospitalization and can lead to death. Since the first cases were found in Tarrant County in March 2020, the illness has gone on to be the third leading cause of death in the county behind only heart disease and stroke.
What causes COVID-19?
The disease is caused by a Coronavirus virus called “SARS-CoV-2.” Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that infect many different animals. Typical human coronaviruses infect people very year and are part of a large group of viruses that cause the common cold.
However, some of the coronaviruses that infect animals can also infect people and have the potential to cause epidemics of severe illness. Recent examples include SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19).
Who is most at risk of becoming seriously ill?
Largely it is people who are unvaccinated. Also people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, compromised immune systems and increasing age, especially those over 65 years old are at risk of becoming seriously ill as well. If you are ill with COVID-19, watch for the warning signs of severe illness and call your primary care doctor or go to an emergency room if you develop:
How is it transmitted?
COVID-19 is easily spread person-to-person, primarily by:
It takes from two up to 14 days from being exposed to the virus before sickness sets in. People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.
What can I do to prevent getting COVID-19?
Get the COVID-19 vaccination, any of the three available vaccines is the best way to prevent this disease. Learn more about them. Also, continue to take these precautions:
What should I do if I get sick?
How do I get tested for COVID-19?
Contact your healthcare provider or call 817-248-6299 to arrange for a COVID-19 test. If you have respiratory issues and fever, contact a physician or urgent care or other medical facility and get tested for the flu or other viral illnesses first. Tarrant County Public Health also provides tests for free.
How is COVID-19 treated?
While not a treatment, the COVID-19 vaccines are the single best way to prevent the disease. Tarrant County Public Health is working closely with State and federal agencies to ensure that it is ready to receive the vaccines when they are available. Treatment options vary; at home, treat your symptoms with fever reducers, rest, drink plenty of liquids, and monitor your condition. If your conditions worsen, seek out the help of a medical professional. Care within a hospital setting, including breathing support and other medications designed to allow the body to recover, as there is no cure for COVID-19 at this time.
There are now monoclonal infusion centers available in North Texas, located at 815 8th Ave, Fort Worth, TX. For eligible patients, they provide the treatment Regeneron – COV (Casirivimab and Imdevimab). This is available to no cost to the patients and it is recommended that you visit your physician so that they can refer you to the Center; however walk-ins are available for those that qualify.
If I am planning to travel, should I go?
Check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for updates on where travel should be avoided regardless of your risk for complications from COVID-19 infection. If you are at high risk, you are advised not to travel. Travel that requires being in a crowd greatly increases you risk for acquiring COVID-19.
If you have to travel domestically or internationally, get vaccinated prior to your trip.
What if I’m planning to attend a large event?
While the pandemic is underway, it’s best to avoid events where social distancing is questionable. If people are coming from other areas and include high-risk individuals, canceling the event is recommended. Some events can be done virtually and not pose a risk to anyone. Event planners should consider risks when planning large events.
If you can’t cancel a large gathering or event, then make sure you and other attendees are fully vaccinated prior to the event, keep events outdoors if possible, and mask if the event is indoors.
Should young athletes wear masks during sports?
The American Academy of Pediatrics changed its opinion in November 2020 and now recommends face covers for children while competing in most sports. Masks should likewise be worn on the sidelines, locker rooms, and on buses.
What are containment measures or nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)?
Containment measures are activities to slow the spread of disease.
They can be done on the individual level, such as asking a person to voluntarily stay home when exposed to a disease or requiring sick people to stay home. This also applies to communities. When community containment measures are used, the goal is to stop or slow an outbreak. For a community-wide COVID-19 response, the public health community and Tarrant County Public Health agree that individuals should avoid groups of people that are not a part of your family unit, social distance, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently.
It is not realistic to think these techniques are going to stop all disease. However, they are meant to slow the rate of new infections to a point where the healthcare system can respond and provide time for everyone to get vaccinated.
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