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I Think I Have Coronavirus (COVID-19). What Should I Do?

March 24, 2020
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

If you are young and healthy and contract COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus), you may not be too concerned about your own health. After all, your immune system is strong, you don’t have any medical conditions, you eat well and exercise–you’ll fight it off in a week. But what about those around you who haven’t been blessed with the gift of health? Even if your family members are healthy, have you considered that you might infect someone (an elderly person, perhaps?) as you walk down the street?


First off, if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor immediately. 

Common symptoms of the virus include:


  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sore throat
  • Tiredness

Less common symptoms include:


  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea


Symptoms of COVID-19 do not always appear immediately after infection. In fact, it can take up to 14 days to experience symptoms. 


If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and don’t have access to a doctor, stay at home. According to the CDC, people who have a mild case of COVID-19 are able to recover at home. The CDC recommends that you do not leave your home except to get medical care (depending on your doctor’s recommendations).

Avoid public transportation. Do not use ride-sharing services or taxis. 


If you are isolating yourself in your home due to the virus, stay away from other people. If possible, stay in a separate room entirely.


If you’re sick–even if you don’t have COVID-19–wear a face mask. A healthy person who wears a face mask will not have any protective benefits from the mask, but a sick person can prevent others from contracting the virus.

Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough. The main way COVID-19 spreads is through airborne particles emitted from the mouth or nose. Do not expose others to your illness. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth or nose with a tissue if possible–otherwise, use your arm. Then, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. 


Wash your hands often. Even if you’re not sick, washing your hands with soap and water can help protect against getting COVID-19. Use soap and water and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Wash the backs of your hands, too.


Don’t share household items. This includes drinking glasses, eating utensils, and towels. 


Lastly, monitor your symptoms. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 at all, call your doctor. If your symptoms worsen to the point where you’re delirious or having trouble breathing, seek emergency care (call 911) immediately. If you end up going to the hospital, wear a face mask to prevent others from being exposed.


Taking the above precautions can ensure that if you have COVID-19, you’ll recover quickly and without complications.

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