There are so many guidelines, recommendations, updates, breaking news, and questions about the COVID virus. We’ve had questions ourselves and suspect you do, too. Welcome to our BEST effort to keep you informed.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a coronoavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). They get their name, “corona,” from the many crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019,” is the name of the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
The best preventive measures include wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, washing hands often, avoiding sick people, keeping your hands away from your face, and getting adequate rest and nutrition.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Below are common symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. If you think you might have this virus get tested.
- New loss of taste or smell
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have symptoms see your doctor immediately.
Why should I be concerned about the latest variant, BA.2?
BA.2 is a subvariant of the Omicron variant. It’s not known how bad the surge will be, but over the past several weeks there has been an increase in cases throughout the United States. As of 22 March the World Health Organization announced that the BA.2 variant is the dominant form of COVID. It is important to pay attention to the COVID updates and indicators for your community.
Because many areas have lifted mask mandates it is recommended you keep high-quality masks, such as the N95 facial mask, on hand.
Is the vaccine safe?
The vaccines authorized for use in the US are effective at preventing severe illness and death. This includes the Delta variant. They are not 100% effective and some fully vaccinated people will become infected (called a breakthrough infection) and experience some symptoms. It is important to know that even for those who do get sick after getting vaccinated the vaccine still provides them with strong protection against serious illness and death.
Some people who received the vaccinations have said they were tired for a day or two, their arm itched on the spot where they were infected, and/or they had minor flu-like symptoms for a couple of days. This is also true of booster vaccinations.
I heard the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t really a vaccine. Is this true?
That is not true.
When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. Vaccines are used to fight a wide variety of illnesses. There are also a variety of types of vaccines. The Flu vaccine is a different type of vaccine than the vaccine used for Chickenpox which is different from the type used to fight Shingles. The mRNA type vaccine used by Pfizer and Moderna to fight the COVID-19 virus is yet another type of vaccine. Johnson & Johnson uses another type of vaccine called a vector vaccine.
It is important to know that types of vaccines may vary, but their function is the same; fight illness.
I heard that COVID is no worse than getting the Flu. Is this true?
This is not true.
As of June 2022, over 100,000 people are getting sick with COVID every day and approximately 265 people die of COVID every day. Since October 2021 a total of 111,740 people have been reported with flu symptoms and the average daily death rate for the common flu is 80 to 100 people. Also, the long-term effects of COVID are more serious than the Flu.
What is a “breakthrough” case of COVID?
A breakthrough infection is when a fully vaccinated person becomes ill with the Delta variant. It is important to understand that these cases are infrequent, are not as severe as in an unvaccinated person, and last for a much shorter period of time.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Although breakthrough infections happen much less often than infections in unvaccinated people, individuals infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people with symptomatic breakthrough infections, can transmit it to others. CDC is continuing to assess data on whether fully vaccinated people with asymptomatic breakthrough infections can transmit.”
How much worse will this get?
We don’t know how much worse it might get or how long it will last. We do know from what has been reported that the COVID virus is evolving and becoming more contagious, as demonstrated by the Delta variant, and the more recent mutation known as the Omicron variant.
Should I wear a mask?
A mask helps reduce the spread of infectious droplets by up to 80%. Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth is a simple way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. Recent guidance suggests you should wear a mask in public indoor spaces if you’re older than 2. That includes anywhere the public can freely come and go.
Remember, masks add another layer of protection if you’re vaccinated and, if you’re not, wearing a mask helps prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to others. It is recommended that with the spread of the BA.2 variant you keep high-quality masks such as the N95 on hand.
While mask mandates are ending, it is recommended that you continue wearing a mask indoors and with people you do not know. Why is this important? Based on the data so far, if you are in a room of 25 people, for example, there is a 70% likelihood that someone in the room has COVID.
I’m vaccinated. Why should I wear a mask?
If you are vaccinated, wearing a mask adds another layer of protection and, if you’re not vaccinated, wearing a mask helps prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to others. While mask mandates are ending, it is recommended that you continue wearing a mask indoors and with people you do not know.
(This page was last updated 1 June 2022)