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Your guide to understanding coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Welcome to Grand Rounds, your personal healthcare assistant and trusted source for timely information around coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Experiencing symptoms?

Use our 2-minute symptom checker based on CDC guidelines to help you understand your risk and take the right next steps in case of exposure to the virus.

Coronavirus FAQs
Updated March 30, 2021
Our Chief Medical Officer and senior medical experts provide comprehensive, up-to-date answers on the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19.

  • Understanding symptoms. What are they? How long after exposure do symptoms appear?
  • High risk factors. Am I at risk? How about newborns?
  • How it spreads. Talking or singing? What if I have a cut on my hand?
  • Treating symptoms. What do I take if I have a fever? When should I go to the hospital?
  • Protecting yourself. What are the do’s and don'ts if I’m told to ‘quarantine’?  
DISCLAIMER: The advice in this article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace or substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor with questions you may have regarding a personal medical condition or treatment.
Coronavirus FAQs
Updated March 30, 2021

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has now reached every continent except Antarctica and with daily news reports and information sharing, it can be hard to know what steps to take. Our senior medical experts answers the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19.  

Understanding symptoms

What are the symptoms?

Fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath are some of the most common symptoms, but other symptoms such as sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of smell or taste have also been reported. For a list of frequently reported COVID-19 symptoms, please visit this CDC website.


Check your symptoms in just 2 minutes to learn whether you are at risk for COVID-19 and what to do next, all based on CDC guidelines.

How long after exposure do symptoms usually appear?

Symptoms usually appear within 2-14 days. Most people who develop symptoms can recover at home with supportive care (staying hydrated, resting, managing symptoms with medications such as fever reduces like Tylenol). If symptoms evolve to shortness of breath or chest pain, it is crucial to call your healthcare provider, or go to an urgent care or emergency room to seek care. If you are unsure and have access to Grand Rounds, we can help you decide what steps to take.


Of note, some people never develop symptoms but they still can spread the virus to others.

I don't have a primary care doctor. Who do I call if I have symptoms?

If you have had a known exposure you should call your healthcare provider or public health department to see if you are eligible for testing and where testing sites are located (most state health departments offer a hotline). If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as high fever and/or shortness of breath, you should try and call ahead to your local Emergency Room. If you have access to Grand Rounds, you can call us for guidance. If you don’t have Grand Rounds, but have access to another telemedicine/urgent provider, you could call them.

How long are most people actively ill?

Most people are actively ill for the normal course of viral illness, which tends to last about 10 to 14 days.

High risk factors

Who is at higher risk?

As you get older, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. Those in their 50s are a higher risk of severe illness than those in their 40s. Those in their 60s are at great risk than those in their 50s, and so on. People who are 85 or older are at the highest risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness. For more information from the CDC about high-risk individuals, you can visit this website.


People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of COVID-19 severe illness:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system from solid organ transplant)
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions (heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Based on what is known at this time, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

I have a child with asthma. How concerned should I be?

Yes, anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID, including runny nose and cough, should be tested. You should also call your healthcare provider for guidance or schedule a visit with one of our medical professionals. We can also help you find a nearby testing site. If your daughter is experiencing severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, high fevers that cannot be controlled with over the counter medications, that is the time to call your healthcare provider and ensure that you can get tested. Regardless of whether you get tested, keep your daughter at home and away from others, to avoid spreading the illness she has.

How susceptible are newborns who haven't received all their vaccines yet?

In general, children seem to be less symptomatic and have less significant symptoms than adults with COVID-19, however we are learning more about this every day. From a study of pregnant women in China, who are positive for COVID-19, the finding reveals newborns will experience shortness of breath or rash. Most newborns eventually have recovered without needing intensive treatments. However, we do know that newborns, in general, have immature immune systems. Their immune systems are not as robust as most adults or older children. So while children in general are low risk, newborns need the most protection. It is probably worth taking the usual precautions you would with a newborn — namely not exposing them to people who you know are sick, not taking them out as much, and keeping them home as much as possible.

How it spreads

How does it spread?

The current scientific evidence indicates the virus spreads in these three ways:

  1. Droplets come from people coughing or sneezing on you — they are larger particles that don’t travel very far before they are pulled down by gravity (typically not more than 6 feet). Physical distancing is key to preventing droplet spread. 
  2. Aerosols are smaller particles that are produced when talking or singing, and can travel far in poorly ventilated spaces (note: ventilation is good in airplanes). Something as simple as keeping windows open can bring in fresh air and dilute the amount of virus in an indoor space. Keeping your mask on and not talking to your neighbor, while it may feel impolite, is a good practice to reduce aerosol spread.
  3. Contact spread occurs when coming into contact with surfaces that have virus on it, which can be mitigated with wipes and hand sanitizer.

Treating symptoms

If I get a fever, what medication should I take?

In early March 2020, there was a study that indicated that individuals with the Coronavirus who took NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (example names: Ibuprofen, Aleve, and medications of that category) did not recover as swiftly as people who used acetaminophen (Common brand name: Tylenol) for their fevers. However, the FDA issued a statement that there was not sufficient evidence to advise patients not to use NSAIDs. You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, be sure to stay within the dosing guidelines on the packages and if you have any chronic conditions such as liver or kidney disease, discuss with your doctor first.

How bad do the symptoms need to be before I go to the hospital?

If you start to experience shortness of breath, are coughing so much that you cannot get a deep breath in, have a fever and the over the counter fever-reducers are not getting the fever down, or are feeling lightheaded when you stand up -- you must call your local primary care doctor immediately. They will need to assess you to test for things like the flu and normal respiratory virals, and also to determine if you need testing for COVID-19.


If you do not have a primary care physician, you should seek care at an urgent care or emergency room.

How do you take care of yourself when you get COVID-19? What can I do to help manage it if I get it?

If you get mild COVID-19 symptoms, like fever and cough, you can manage the symptoms with over-the-counter medications. If you have severe COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. Chest pain, shortness of breath, persistent vomiting) you may need to get treated at the hospital with IV fluids, supplemental oxygen, steroids, and/or anti-viral medication. If you need help understanding your treatment options or the severity of your symptoms, you can book a visit with our medical team. 

Should I look into being tested if I feel fine or have mild symptoms? When should I get tested?

Testing is more widely available now, so anyone with symptoms that could be consistent with CoVID are encouraged to get tested. We can help you find a nearby testing site. You may also call your healthcare provider or county health department for guidance. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, high fevers that cannot be controlled with over the counter medications, that is the time to call your healthcare provider for advice and to ensure that you can get tested.

My child has a runny nose and cough. We are on day four of this sickness. Should I get him/her tested?

Yes, anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID, including runny nose and cough, should be tested. You should also call your healthcare provider for guidance or schedule a visit with one of our medical professionals. We can also help you find a nearby testing site. If your child is experiencing severe symptoms, like shortness of breath, high fevers that cannot be controlled with over the counter medications, that is the time to call your healthcare provider and ensure that you can get tested. Regardless of whether you get tested, keep your child at home and away from others, to avoid spreading the illness he/she has.

If there are no drugs for COVID-19, why does one need to be tested? Why not just follow the guidelines of the CDC and do self-quarantine?

The recommendation for most people who would get tested for the Coronavirus, is to quarantine themselves and take care of themselves at home. However, for many individuals, knowing whether or not they are positive might impact the lives of others around them. For example, if they are positive and they had recently gone to work, or been speaking with family members who might be at higher risk, it would be vital for them to know that they were exposed, so that they can then take similar precautions. While you are right that for most people who are tested, it will not change their course or their management plan, it could impact others that they might have been in contact with.

Protecting yourself

How can I protect myself?

Bottom line: Outdoors is safer than indoors; masks are better than no masks. Avoid being close to people (especially face-to-face) for very long, particularly in an indoor setting. Hand hygiene is important. And take into account both your personal level of risk and the risk of those around you.

What are the do’s and don'ts if I’m told to ‘quarantine’?  

It is very important to stay home and monitor yourself for symptoms if you might have been exposed to COVID-19. For comprehensive guidance, please refer to this CDC website for the most up-to-date guidance:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html

Should I send my child back to in-person school?

There is no right answer for everyone. A starting point would be to think through the following:

  • Is my child at high risk for severe COVID-related illness? (kids at higher risk of hospitalization include those with compromised immune systems, cancer, moderate to severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, and certain heart conditions)
  • Does my child live with someone who is high risk for severe COVID-related illness? (an older adult, someone with diabetes, obesity, etc)
  • Is my community heavily affected by COVID? (Look at daily case rates, positivity rates, hospitalizations, etc.)
  • Is my child’s school offering protective measures such as mask mandates, 6+ feet of distancing, outdoor classrooms, reduced classroom sizes, etc?
  • Is it logistically feasible for the child to do online schooling at home? (do both parents work out of the home, have internet access at home, etc)

Everyone will need to think through these issues and come to a decision that's right for their family.


Are there steps we can take to help our immune system get strong? Any specific foods or supplements you would recommend?

We know there are general things that individuals can do to protect themselves from all viruses. The steps include making sure that you are getting your usual vitamins and minerals that you need to keep your immune system strong. Most of the time, we get these nutrients by eating healthy fruits and vegetables. If you feel like you are not able to get your vitamins through regular food, then you may consider taking a multivitamin to make sure that you have your full daily supply of vitamins. Also, things that help your immune system stay strong are making sure you are getting an adequate amount of sleep and a moderate amount of exercise.

If I get COVID-19 and recover, will I be immune?

We know that those who have severe, mild, or even asymptomatic infection (do not develop symptoms), do develop antibodies to the novel coronavirus. Studies are continually underway to learn how strong this immune response is and for how long the antibodies last.Our current understanding is that they last for many months, with some studies showing that they last for six months or longer. But, based on what we know from other coronaviruses, it will not likely be a lifelong immunity which is one reason vaccination is needed.

Can I get COVID twice?

We are still learning about this, but, yes, there have been some documented cases of re-infection, but this remains infrequent.

I’m partially vaccinated (received one of two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer). How protected am I after one dose?

While the CDC still recommends against travel in general, they have updated their travel guidelines specifically for fully vaccinated travelers: 

  • Fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
  • Fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before leaving the United States (unless required by the destination) or self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
  • Travelers still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.
  • Travelers should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
  • Travelers do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
DISCLAIMER: The advice in this article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant to replace or substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor with questions you may have regarding a personal medical condition or treatment.

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