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Coronavirus and COVID-19 Information: Santa Clara County and Bay Area, California

Trustworthy information about COVID-19

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

The CDC lists these symptoms of COVID-19:  

  • fever
  • chills and repeated shaking
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • cough
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • loss of taste or smell.

Other public health sources add that sometimes people with COVID-19 also have

  • very low oxygen (measured by a pulse oximeter) without difficulty breathing
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • dizzyness or disorientation

People ill with COVID-19 might not have all those symptoms, and some have no symptoms at all. It can be difficult to tell COVID-19 at first from similar diseases - the following chart may help.

chart of symptoms of COVID-19, cold, flu, allergies, asthma

Infographic courtesy of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

What are the Danger Signs?

It's estimated that 80% of  COVID-19 cases will be mild - but that information doesn't help much, when trying to decide whether to seek medical attention. This article explaining the symptoms of moderate vs serious disease may help to decide when to make that call, and gives key points of information to tell your healthcare team.

The Centers for Disease Control warns to get medical treatment immediately if these symptoms appear:

  • trouble breathing
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest [or back]
  • new confusion, or inability to arouse
  • bluish lips or face.

What if I have symptoms of COVID-19? What if someone in my family does?

People who have symptoms that fit the profile of COVID-19 disease should:

  • get tested (with the swab coronavirus RNA test);
  • self-quarantine until the test results come back; 
  • clean and disinfect key areas daily; and 
  • check with healthcare providers to assess the severity of their symptoms and see whether they need treatment.

Don't wait to get medical attention if symptoms are severe (see Danger Signs, above).

Santa Clara County Public Health has collected comprehensive updated advice on these webpages:

Before showing up at a medical facility, check in first. If your health plan offers medical advice by telephone, call them. If you don't have that option, don't just show up at an urgent care or emergency room -- call ahead, if possible, to let them know it's suspected COVID-19. It is vital that health facilities have time to prepare before you arrive, to protect staff and the other patients from potential infection. 

If you feel sick and do not have health insurance at present, call your local county public health department  for instructions.

What if I'm not that sick? People with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can take steps to manage this disease (supportive care) while staying home. Seek medical attention ASAP if any of the danger signs of severe disease are present, though.

Supportive care includes:

  • lots of rest;
  • stay hydrated (drink lots of liquids); and
  • use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to lower a fever or relieve pain as needed.

If you are sharing a home with someone who has COVID-19, do your best to isolate them in the home away from everyone else. If they can't be in a room by themselves, with a door that closes, see if they can have a bed to themselves, with screens or curtains or furniture to separate them from other people in the home. Sick people should wear masks to avoid sharing the virus. Disinfecting bathroom surfaces after each use can protect others in the home; ditto eating alone (not sharing meals with other people), and carefully washing dishes and utensils afterwards. People who are fully vaccinated (at least 14 days past their last vaccine dose) are much less likely to become infected, but their chances of getting sick are not zero;  it is still wise to take precautions.

If one person in the household is sick, we should assume that other unvaccinated people sharing that space are sick, too, and just don't have symptoms [yet]. Everyone in that household should self-quarantine as best they can. People who have been fully vaccinated do not need to self-quarantine, however.

Since people can continue to shed coronavirus even after they start to feel better, it's safest to follow the CDC precautions for some days afterwards. Later, if someone else in the household gets sick, that resets the self-quarantine clock for everyone in that household.

(Ask your health care team about when/if the other people in the household should get tested.)

In rare cases, SARS-CoV-2 has been discovered in sick pets. We don't know enough about this disease to know if people can infect other animals, or pets can infect their people, but the good news is that cats and dogs seem to get only mild symptoms. Currently, the CDC advises:

Recovery from COVID-19

If you - or someone in your home - had  COVID-19 and got better, when is it safe to consider it a full recovery? Check with your / their healthcare provider! The CDC's current advice is:

For otherwise healthy people, the CDC considers it's safe for someone who was sick with COVID-19 to be around other people again when:

  • 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 (like loss of smell or taste) are improving

People whose immune systems were already weakened before they got COVID-19 should take extra precautions - see the CDC's advice "When You Can Be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19" on the page linked above.

Once someone has recovered from a SARS-CoV-2 infection, unfortunately that doesn't mean they're finished with this disease. A significant number of people are reporting effects (serious and otherwise) long after they test negative again.  We are still learning about the experiences of long haulers, and figuring out how to support them.

What if I'm Pregnant, or Have an Infant?

The CDC's guidance includes advice on pregnancy and delivery, on breastfeeding mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections, and on new baby care during this pandemic. (See the page on Vaccines in this guide for the good news on getting vaccinated while pregnant or breastfeeding.)

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