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.
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.
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.
What is different about the Delta And Omicron Variants of COVID?
Viruses are known for mutating into more virulent forms. The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of the COVID-19 virus. Several studies showed that those who got sick with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients infected with Alpha, Lambda, or the original virus strains.
The latest mutation of the COVID virus is known as the Omicron variant. According to Robert Bollinger MD MPH, Professor of Infectious Diseases at John Hopkins, preliminary evidence suggests the omicron variant is more infectious than the delta variant. At this time it appears that being fully vaccinated, including boosters, is effective in preventing serious illness and death from the Omicron variant.
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, homemade or purchased, 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.
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, wearing a mask helps prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to others.
(This page was last updated 23 December 2021)