Resource: COVID-19 Key Information

Adapted from online information provided by Dr. Jeffrey Silver, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?
Testing is for people with symptoms of infection (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) AND travel to a place with known widespread infection OR close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19. Close contact means being within 6 feet for a long period of time such as while living together, caring for, visiting or sharing a room. Click here for more information.

How concerned should I be if I have symptoms?
High Concern: reason to present to emergency room

  • Substantial confusion: cannot be aroused or having ongoing, severe confusion
  • Blue discoloration of the lips or face
  • Severe shortness of breath: struggling to take each breath or having difficulty speaking because you are short of breath; panting, grunting, severe wheezing
  • Trouble drinking fluids
  • Debilitating weakness or dizziness: you can no longer focus or take care of yourself

Moderate Concern: should speak to a provider within 24-48 hours
Having BOTH:

  1. Fever OR cough OR shortness of breath
  2. AND one of the following underlying conditions:
    • Pregnant or recently postpartum
    • Asthma, COPD, emphysema, or other chronic lung disease
    • Congestive heart failure or a weak heart for other reasons
    • Diabetes
    • Dialysis-dependent kidney disease
    • Chronic liver disease or liver cirrhosis
    • Age > 65
    • Close contact with someone COVID-19 positive or highly suspected to be positive

Low Concern: Stay at home, self-care, follow-up with primary care provider as needed

  • Fever and/or cough without underlying medical conditions (as listed above)
  • Nasal congestion, change in smell, sore throat, runny nose

Where can I get tested?
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has created an interactive map of test sites in Massachusetts with customizable options for insurance, type of facility, and patient group. The standard test is a nasal swab.

How do I best protect myself against COVID-19?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and wear masks in public places
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, bedside tables) with regular household cleaning products
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose/coughing/sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

I have heard about antibody testing, what does this mean?
Antibody testing shows that a patient has been exposed (in this case, COVID-19), but not whether they are currently infected.

Should I get antibody testing?
Diagnoses should be based on results from the nasal swab test. Antibody testing is used when there is high suspicion for COVID-19 but a negative nasal swab test. Antibody testing is recommended at least 14 days after potential exposure which gives the body enough time to build an immune response and produce antibodies. Currently, there is no data showing that antibody response is protective against future COVID-19 infection.

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