Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Doctors of Internal Medicine | 03/13/2020

Below, you will find some information on frequently asked questions across the DFW metroplex.

Quick links and information:


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

If you have a known or suspected exposure to someone with the coronavirus or have traveled to a high-risk area and you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • NOTE: symptoms of coronavirus are mild in 87% of cases

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

Symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu virus can overlap, so it’s important to understand the facts to seek the right treatment. Both viruses cause:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting (occasionally)
  • Diarrhea (occasionally)
  • Severe cases of both viruses can lead to pneumonia and can even cause death.

What should I do if I’ve had contact with someone with COVID-19?

  • Seek medical advice. A conversation with your physician will help you to determine your risk and the next steps.
  • Isolate yourself to home. Be sure to take precautions until you seek medical advice to ensure you do not expose others to the illness.

What should I do if I suspect that I may have COVID-19?

  • Stay at home. You might consider leaving home in order to seek medical care if your symptoms are severe, but it is important to call your primary care provider before seeking medical care in a clinic or healthcare facility. Clinical teams will direct you to the appropriate care setting.
  • You may be asked to schedule a virtual telehealth visit or telephone visit with your doctor in an attempt to limit exposure to others.
  • Isolate yourself. To decrease the risk to family and pets, it is important to stay in a room away from people and animals in your home. Use a bathroom that is separate from everyone else in the home if one is available. Your healthcare provider will help you know when it is okay to be out in public again.
  • Wear a facemask. Wear a facemask to prevent the spread of the illness both at home and if you are asked to go to a medical facility for care. People that live at home with you should also wear a facemask when in the same room. They should wash their hands immediately after exposure to you and your room.
  • Follow the same precautions as with any other virus.
    • Wash your hands frequently.
    • Disinfect hard surfaces. (e.g. tabletops, doorknobs, keyboards)
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and discard immediately into the trash.
    • Avoiding sharing cups or utensils.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • The virus is thought to occur mostly from person-to-person via respiratory droplets among close contacts.
  • There is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.
  • There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
  • Close contact with someone with COVID-19 including:
    • being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time.
    • having direct contact with infectious secretions from a person with COVID-19. Infectious secretions may include sputum, serum, blood, and respiratory droplets.
  • It is unknown how long the virus can live on surfaces. Currently, it is believed it may be anywhere from 2 hours to 9 days.
  • It is likely that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. (Frequent hand washing is strongly recommended)

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cough and sneeze etiquette (cough into the upper sleeve or use a tissue and dispose of it properly)
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Wash laundry thoroughly.

How is COVID-19 treated?

  • There is no specific drug or vaccination that is effective for the novel coronavirus at this time.
  • It is important to note that the coronavirus, like all viruses, is not treated with an antibiotic.
  • The common cold is also caused, in most cases, by a coronavirus. Just like with a common cold, the majority of people will improve on their own with symptom-based treatment like over-the-counter cold medications.
  • Some groups of people are at increased risk for more serious illness, including older people (over the age of 65) and those with a history of medical conditions such as decreased immunity, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes.
  • Pregnant women may also be at a slightly increased risk for more severe illness due to changes that occur in the immune system while pregnant.

How long must I isolate myself if it is suspected that I have (or have been in contact with) the virus?
If you suspect you are sick with coronavirus or have been exposed, call your physician for direction. If directed to self-quarantine, the CDC recommends isolation until you are better, or the virus incubation period has passed, and you no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

Those ill with COVID-19:

  • Current CDC guidance for releasing someone from isolation is made on a case by case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:
  • The person is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The person is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • The person has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
  • Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

Those exposed to COVID-19 without symptoms:

  • Current guidelines recommend a quarantine of 14 days from the last date of exposure. The longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses is 14 days.
  • Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others.

How should I manage stress around COVID-19?

  • With news sources reporting daily on the coronavirus and the effects it has had on daily life in countries with widespread outbreaks, it is difficult not to feel some level of anxiety about the virus. This is completely normal.
  • Symptoms of anxiety can impact you physically and emotionally. Sleep, exercise and a healthy diet can help. During this period of increased stress, taking care of yourself becomes of the utmost importance. Be aware of signs that natural stress is turning into something more. If worrisome thoughts linger or start to interfere with your day to day functioning, it may be something more.
  • If you are struggling with anxiety or sleep as a result of virus-induced stress, call us at (972) 382-9292. We can help.

The CDC Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 is also an excellent resource.