Symptoms and Prevention
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. It may also be possible 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, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Cape Cod Healthcare is carefully monitoring the status of COVID-19 in conjunction with public health partners at all levels and will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.
What are the symptoms of the COVID-19 infection?
According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported - ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.
Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as more is learned about COVID-19. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
The CDC indicates that anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions, such as heart or disease or diabetes, seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
What is the difference between COVID-19 and Influenza (Flu)?
Although COVID-19 and Influenza (flu) are both contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses. Because some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and flu are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. According to the CDC, both COVID-19 and flu share similarities, but there are some key differences as well. While there isn't a vaccine for COVID-19 yet, the most common strains of flu are preventable with an annual flu shot (learn more about how to get a flu shot at capecodhealth.org/flu-clinics).
For more information about the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and Flu, see this helpful CDC comparison of COVID-19 vs flu.
What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?
To prevent further spread of infection, do not go directly to your doctor’s office, urgent care or emergency centers - contact your primary care physician by phone first. Based on your symptoms, your doctor will ask a series of questions to confirm if you need to be tested. If you do not have a primary care physician, call our dedicated call center at 508-862-5595 to be screened over the phone with a CCHC clinical provider. If it is determined you should be tested, your provider will submit an electronic order to our testing team and you will receive an appointment for drive-through testing. Learn more about our COVID-19 Testing Process.
Emergency Warning Signs of COVID-19 Infection
If you develop any of the following symptoms* get medical attention immediately.
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
* This list is not all symptoms. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. As always, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.
What preventive steps can you take?
- Follow the Mass DPH Safer-at-Home Advisory guidelines.
- Practice social distancing. Keeping space (at least 6 feet) between yourself and other people when you do have to go outside of your home is one of the best ways we have to avoid being exposed to the virus and to help slow its spread in our community, country and world. Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others.
- Per state order, wear a cloth face covering in public settings where social distancing is not possible. The CDC recommends this measure to slow the spread as it helps people who have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
- Protect yourself and others with prevention steps from the CDC.
- Maintain healthy habits and follow steps to keep your immune system strong.
- Follow important tips to clean and disinfect your home.