There are over a million total cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Since it’s a new virus and shares many symptoms with other illnesses such as the common cold and flu, it’s been difficult to diagnose and manage. With so much panic and confusion surrounding something so new and dangerous, people are looking for information and finding a lot of false claims about what COVID-19 is and how it works. Getting the facts about this virus will help save lives and make it easier to understand how to avoid it and manage it.

Dr. Christopher Clark and the team at Premier Spine and Sports Medicine in Hagerstown, Maryland, can help with questions and information about COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the newest form of the coronavirus, which is a group of viruses that can cause the common cold, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The specific coronavirus is known as severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV-2), and this is what causes the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. It presents with cold and flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Cough
  • Aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fever

Symptoms common to COVID-19 specifically are loss of taste or smell, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing.

How does it spread?

COVID-19 is an airborne virus that spreads through respiratory droplets resulting from things like coughing, sneezing, or even talking within six feet of other people. The virus can also be spread through touching surfaces that contagious people have interacted with and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Once contracted, it can take 2-14 days for symptoms to appear. The virus is especially dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, people with chronic medical conditions (diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, etc.), and older people. The virus can resolve itself without medication in mild cases, but severe cases may also see complications like persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, and blue lips or face.

What can you do to protect yourself?

The CDC has guidelines on how to protect yourself and others, which are pretty simple and straightforward:

Wash your hands frequently

Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds after public activity, coughing, or sneezing. If you have to use hand sanitizer, make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick 

The virus could be asymptomatic for up to two weeks, so people already dealing with other viruses or sick with other issues are at greater risk.

Maintain at least six feet from people in public

Maintain a safe range from other people who might have COVID-19 or to protect others if you have the virus.

Wear a cloth face-covering in public 

When out shopping for necessities and other basic needs, a face covering can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Cover coughs and sneezes

In settings where you find yourself without a face covering if you sneeze or cough make sure to cover your mouth or cough into your arm.

Clean and disinfect

Areas of the house that are regularly used should be cleaned and disinfected as often as possible. Objects frequently used such as doorknobs, utensils, sinks, light switches, and countertops should also be cleaned often.

Practicing these guidelines can help keep you and others from spreading COVID-19. There is currently no vaccine, but most mild cases won’t require medical attention. If you have questions or concerns about the outbreak, contact Dr. Clark and our team at Premier Spine and Sports Medicine to help clear up confusion regarding COVID-19.


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