Health News
Health News
April 10, 2020

Developments surrounding the novel coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19, are occurring at a rapid pace and it can be hard to keep up.  Privia Medical Group North Texas (PMGNTX) physicians want you to have the best information available and are providing this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide. 

Q: What is COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a new virus strain.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The most common symptoms are fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath.  Some people have reported additional symptoms as well, such as diarrhea.

Q:  How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

A: Up to 14 days – and some people may never experience symptoms.

Q:  Can you be contagious if you don’t have symptoms?

A: Yes – this is one of the main reasons the virus is spreading so quickly.

Q:  How does COVID-19 spread?

A: COVID-19 spreads through tiny respiratory droplets, which are emitted when someone sneezes or coughs.  The virus can live on a hard surface such as a doorknob for a few days, which is why it’s important to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face and disinfect high-touch surfaces. 

Q:  Is there a cure?

A: Because it’s a virus, antibiotics won’t work.  Generally, the most effective treatment is to get rest, drink plenty of fluids and take acetaminophen for fever.  Severe cases, in which someone has difficulty breathing, are treated at the hospital. 

Q: Is there a vaccine like there is for the flu?

A:  Not yet.  It will likely be 12-18 months before a vaccine is available. 

Q: What’s the best way to protect myself and my family from COVID-19?

A: There are several things everyone should do:

  • Wash your hands frequently, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
  • Regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, phones and keyboards
  • Observe social distancing guidelines and orders from federal, state and local authorities. That means staying at home unless you work in an essential business or need to engage in an essential activity, like grocery shopping.  If you must be out of your house, maintain a minimum six-foot separation from others at all times.
  • Avoid touching your face; this is one of the main ways that germs get into our bodies

Q: Who is most at risk for COVID-19?

A: COVID-19 can affect people of all ages, races and health levels.  However, certain people are more at risk for severe cases with complications and should take special precautions to avoid contact with others:

  • People over the age of 65
  • Anyone in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People with an underlying health condition, including cancer, certain heart conditions, diabetes, obesity, liver and kidney disease and those who are immunocompromised

Q:  Are women who are pregnant at greater risk?

A: So far, there is no data to suggest that pregnant women are more at risk for severe complications from COVID-19.  Women who are pregnant should take the same precautions as everyone else to reduce risk. 

Q:  What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

A:  Call your health care provider if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19. If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately. 

Q: How do I get tested for COVID-19?

A: Testing is limited for COVID-19, but if you have symptoms you may be eligible to receive a test. 

Call your health care provider to describe your symptoms and they will advise you on what to do.  Do not show up to your doctor’s office or a private lab – they may not have tests available or may not be able to test you. 

There are no tests available for healthy people who have no symptoms and have not come into close contact with someone else who has tested positive for the disease.

Q: What about drive-through testing locations?

A:  There are two federally-supported drive-through testing locations in Dallas.  People who have a fever of 99.6 AND have cough or shortness of breath can be tested.  The testing centers are open 8am – 8pm daily and are located at:

Parking Lot E at the American Airlines Center

2500 Victory Avenue, Dallas

The Ellis Davis Field House

9191 South Polk Street, Dallas

Q:  How long does it take to get test results?

A:  The time to process COVID-19 tests varies depending on who is processing the test.  It can take anywhere from 1-7 days. 

Q: How long will schools and businesses be closed for?

A: It’s unclear.  Because this is a new virus, there is much scientists do not yet know about it.  For now, the safest thing for everyone is to avoid contact with others and stay home. 

Q:  Why am I unable to schedule an elective surgery?

A:  Governor Greg Abbott has ordered all elective surgeries be postponed in the state of Texas.  This is to free up bed space and personnel in hospitals so that they have maximum capacity available to treat COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization.  It also reduces usage of personal protection equipment (PPE), which is needed for health care workers who are treating COVID-19 patients. 

Q:  Can I catch COVID-19 from food?

A:  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest the virus can be transmitted through food.  CDC also believes it is unlikely the virus can be transferred on food packaging, as it seems to survive better on hard surfaces. 

It is still important to take precautions.  Wash your hands thoroughly before eating.  Before preparing or eating fresh produce, wash it off using soap and water. 

Q:  Can I catch COVID-19 from my dog or cat?

A:  There are no reports of any household pets testing positive for COVID-19 in the United States; however, it was reported that a tiger in the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus after it was apparently infected by one of its human caretakers.  Animals can contract and carry germs, so it is always a good idea to wash your hands after touching your pet and avoid close contact with your pets when you are sick. 

Q:  Will COVID-19 go away when the weather gets hot?

A:  Scientists do not know yet how temperature changes will affect this virus.  While some viruses, including the flu and common cold, are more common in the winter months, it is still possible to catch them in the warmer months of the year.

This article contains information sourced from:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Dallas County Health and Human Services

The New York Times