Am I at Risk for COVID-19?

As news reports change hourly here in the United States and uncertainty runs rampant, there are many things we do know about COVID-19, especially when it comes to protecting yourself against this novel coronavirus.

One of the first questions our patients ask us as health care providers is whether they’re at risk for being infected by COVID-19, and we want to underscore the point that very few people are immune to this potentially dangerous disease.

The team at Bethel Family Medicine offers the following look at the risk and how you can protect yourself and your family.

COVID-19 basics

To better understand why you may be at risk for COVID-19, it’s helpful to quickly review how this infectious disease spreads. 

COVID-19 is what’s known as a coronavirus, which is a group of viruses that can spread among both people and animals. COVID-19, which is named for the year of its outbreak, spreads through droplets from an infected person’s nose or mouth.

Understanding risk

Everyone is at risk of becoming infected by COVID-19, but 80% of people will display mild or no symptoms, which has led people to (wrongly) assume that they can’t spread the virus. Even if you don’t display any symptoms, you can still pass the virus on with just one sneeze or cough.

To give you an idea of how easily COVID-19 can spread, an average person can expel up to 3,000 droplets in just one cough and 40,000 droplets in a sneeze. When these droplets are airborne, you can directly inhale them, or they can land on surfaces where you may pick them up with your hands and transmit them to your nose, eyes, or mouth when you touch your face.

Granted, those who develop a symptomatic cough are more likely to spread the disease, but we reiterate that the lack of symptoms doesn’t mean that you’re not infectious.

Please note that medical researchers are still trying to figure out how long the virus lasts on surfaces. Experts do point out that most transmission is person-to-person, but you shouldn’t discount transmission through clothing and surfaces.

The difference between risk and risk of complications

You’ve likely heard that certain people are more likely to develop complications due to COVID-19, and this point is worth elaborating on.

COVID-19 leads to serious illness, including difficulty breathing, in one out of every six people. The segments more likely to develop these complications include people who:

We urge you to understand that the risk of complications and the risk of becoming infected are two very different things. The real threat is assuming that because you fall outside the risk factors for complications, you’re not at risk for becoming infected — which is simply not true.

Protect yourself and others

As we enter an unprecedented stage in our history, we urge you to follow instructions, including:

Many of these decisions are beginning to be made for you thanks to federal, state, and local decrees, and they’re in place for good reason — namely, that everyone is at risk for COVID-19.

If you have more questions about COVID-19 and mitigating your risk factors, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are open from 8 am to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. These new hours are due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are only seeing patients in the office who do not present with any symptoms of the Corona Virus.

For all those who have any contagious symptoms, we can offer a video visit and where to go for testing.

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