COVID-19 Health FAQs
As Louisiana’s flagship health university and health resource, LSU Health New Orleans has compiled the following information about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 from credible and authoritative sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and others.
COVID-19 (CO for corona; VI for virus; D for disease) is the disease caused by a virus now named SARS-CoV-2. It was first called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus when it originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. SARS-CoV-2 is a new, or novel virus, although it is related to the coronavirus that causes SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which caused an outbreak in 2003.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how this virus spreads.
COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Each health department determines community spread differently based on local conditions.
The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from a few days to two weeks, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become availables.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
Various partnerships with the New Orleans Health Department, including LCMC Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, CORE Response, and Ochsner Health, will offer free, walk-up COVID-19 testing in hard-hit New Orleans neighborhoods. Results are expected to be online or delivered within two to three days.
Testing is available at many healthcare facilities, hospitals, and clinics in New Orleans. Each facility has its own criteria for who is eligible for a test, so we suggest you call first.
Current information is available at https://ready.nola.gov/incident/coronavirus/testing/
Inforrmation about testing for LSUHSC faculty, staff and students is available at https://911.lsuhsc.edu/coronavirus/gettested.aspx
Currently, one vaccine is authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
- A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
- An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection.
An antibody test may not be able to show if you have a current infection, because it can take 1-3 weeks after infection to make antibodies. We do not know yet if having antibodies to the virus can protect someone from getting infected with the virus again, or how long that protection might last.
Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
While people who are sick or know that they have COVID-19 should isolate at home, COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from other people) and wear cloth face coverings in public settings. Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Know how it spreads
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people (ideally 6 feet) if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
- Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
- Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
- Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces often. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them with detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.
Monitor Your Health
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
- Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
- It is important to continue taking care of your health and wellness.
- Continue your medications, and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
- Continue to manage your disease the way your healthcare provider has told you.
- Have at least a 2-week supply of all prescription and non-prescription medications.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your vaccinations are up-to-date.
- Call your healthcare provider
- if you have any concerns about your medical conditions, or if you get sick.
- to find out about different ways you can connect with your healthcare provider for chronic disease management or other conditions.
- Do not delay getting emergency care for your health problems or any health condition that requires immediate attention.
- If you need emergency help, call 911.
- Emergency departments have infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care for your medical condition.
- Continue to practice everyday prevention. Wash your hands often, avoid close contact, wear a cloth face covering, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.
There is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging. However, it may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Learn more about safe handling of deliveries and mail.
At this time, CDC has no data to suggest that this new coronavirus or other similar coronaviruses are spread by mosquitoes or ticks. The main way that COVID-19 spreads is from person to person. See How Coronavirus Spreads for more information.
Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.
Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, remdesivir (Veklury), to treat COVID-19.The National Institutes of Health provides more information about treatment options.
Treatment Outside of the Hospital
- For people at high risk of disease progression. The FDA has issued EUAs for two investigational monoclonal antibodies that can attach to parts of the virus. These antibodies could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus.
- Bamlanivimabexternal icon and casirivimab plus imdevimabexternal icon are available under FDA EUAs for patients at high risk of disease progression and severe illness. Preliminary data suggest that some outpatients may benefit from receiving anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies early in the course of infection. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon find that, to date, there are insufficient data from clinical trials to recommend for or against these treatments and these treatments should not be considered standard of care.
Your healthcare provider also may recommend the following to relieve symptoms and support your body’s natural defenses.
- Taking medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce fever.
- Drinking water or receiving intravenous fluids to stay hydrated.
- Getting plenty of rest to help the body fight the virus.
Treatment in the Hospital
Your healthcare provider will decide on what approach to take for your treatment. There are drugs that have shown some benefit in reducing the severity of illness or risk of death for patients in the hospital by:
- Slowing the virus. Antiviral medications reduce the ability of the virus to multiply and spread through the body.
- Reducing an overactive immune response. In patients with severe COVID-19, the body’s immune system may overreact to the threat of the virus, worsening the disease. This can cause damage to the body’s organs and tissues. Some treatments can help reduce this overactive immune response.
- Dexamethasoneexternal icon is a steroid medication, similar to a natural hormone produced by the body. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon recommend dexamethasone, or a similar medication, to prevent or reduce injury to the body for some hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Dexamethasone is recommended for patients who need supplemental oxygen.
- Treating complications. COVID-19 can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs. It also can cause other complications. Depending on the complications, additional treatments might be used for severely ill hospitalized patients, such as blood thinners to prevent or treat blood clots.
- Supporting the body’s immune function. Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19—called convalescent plasma—can contain antibodies to the virus. This could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus, but currently the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon find there is not enough evidence to recommend these treatments.
No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.
No. Disinfectant products such as sprays, wipes, or liquids are only to be used on hard, non-porous surfaces (materials that do not absorb liquids easily) such as floors and countertops.
Disinfectants should not be used on human or animal skin. Disinfectants may cause serious skin and eye irritation.
Disinfectants are dangerous for people to inject, inhale, or ingest. If you breathe, inject, or swallow disinfectants you may be seriously hurt or die. If someone near you swallows, injects, or breathes a disinfectant, call poison control or a medical professional immediately.
View the current list of disinfectants that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 patients develop antibodies in the blood against the virus. Antibodies are proteins that might help fight the infection. Convalescent plasma is being investigated for the treatment of COVID-19 because there is no approved treatment for this disease and there is some information that suggests it might help some patients recover from COVID-19. Further investigation is still necessary to determine if convalescent plasma might shorten the duration of illness, reduce morbidity, or prevent death associated with COVID-19.
Yes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, remdesivir (Veklury), to treat COVID-19.
If you live in a community where COVID-19 is or might be spreading (currently, that is virtually everywhere in the United States)
Watch Your Health
Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
- Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
- Practice social distancing. Maintain 6 feet of distance from others, and stay out of crowded places.
- Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
If you feel healthy but:
Recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19
Stay Home and Monitor Your Health
- Stay home until 14 days after your last exposure.
- Check your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
- If possible, stay away from people who are at higher-risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
- Have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or
- Are waiting for test results, or
- Have cough, fever, or shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
Isolate Yourself from Others
- Stay home until it is safe to be around others.
- If you live with others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area and away from other people or animals, including pets. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
- Read important information about caring for yourself or someone else who is sick, including when it’s safe to end home isolation.
A small number of pets have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Currently, the risk of pets spreading it to people is low. Learn more
Currently, there is no evidence to show that taking ibuprofen or naproxen can lead to a more severe infection of COVID-19.
People with high blood pressure should take their blood pressure medications, as directed, and work with their healthcare provider to make sure that their blood pressure is as well controlled as possible. Any changes to your medications should only be made by your healthcare provider.
Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and their contacts (people who may have been exposed) and working with them to interrupt disease transmission. For COVID-19, this includes asking cases to isolate and contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.
Contact tracing for COVID-19 typically involves
- Interviewing people with COVID-19 to identify everyone with whom they had close contact during the time they may have been infectious,
- Notifying contacts of their potential exposure,
- Referring contacts for testing,
- Monitoring contacts for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and
- Connecting contacts with services they might need during the self-quarantine period.
The call will come from the Louisiana Department of Health at this number: 877-766-2130.
To prevent the further spread of disease, COVID-19 contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to a person with COVID-19. Contacts should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for symptoms of COVID-19.
Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
* Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). Data are limited, making it difficult to precisely define “close contact;” however, 15 cumulative minutes of exposure at a distance of 6 feet or less can be used as an operational definition for contact investigation. Factors to consider when defining close contact include proximity (closer distance likely increases exposure risk), the duration of exposure (longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), whether the infected individual has symptoms (the period around onset of symptoms is associated with the highest levels of viral shedding), if the infected person was likely to generate respiratory aerosols (e.g., was coughing, singing, shouting), and other environmental factors (crowding, adequacy of ventilation, whether exposure was indoors or outdoors). Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, such as an N95, the determination of close contact should generally be made irrespective of whether the contact was wearing respiratory PPE. At this time, differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings is not recommended.
Yes, you are still considered a close contact even if you were wearing a cloth face covering while you were around someone with COVID-19.
Discussions with health department staff are confidential. This means that your personal and medical information will be kept private and only shared with those who may need to know, like your health care provider.
Your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with. The health department will only notify your close contacts that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. How data are collected, stored, and shared are specific to each state or jurisdiction.