COVID-19 | What You Should Know

A new coronavirus known as COVID-19, first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019 continues to spread, with a growing number of cases identified in countries worldwide including all 50 U.S. states.

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Signs and Symptoms

Most people who get sick with COVID-19 will develop mild to moderate respiratory symptoms. However, people who are more susceptible to infection may develop more severe disease. The most common symptoms include fever, tiredness, dry cough, and difficulty breathing. Some patients may also have aches and pains, runny nose, nasal congestions, sore throat or diarrhea. The symptoms are very similar to the seasonal flu virus. Symptoms have appeared anywhere from two to 14 days after contact with the virus. Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications yet approved to treat it. If you experience these symptoms, contact a health care provider to determine the cause of your sickness as soon as possible and avoid contact with others. If you live in Illinois and think you may need a COVID-19 test, learn more and find a local testing site here. If you are outside of Illinois, check with your state’s public health department for more information on testing in your area. 

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If You Live With Lung Disease

Those who live with lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer, while not more likely to get the COVID-19 virus, are at greater risk of serious illness if infected. It is important for these groups to take special precautions to reduce the risk of infection. Since developments are fast-breaking, continue to follow trusted news sources or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How Can I Avoid Getting Sick and Prevent Spreading the Disease?

There are a number of ways to reduce your risk of infection and prevent further spread. It’s recommended you:

  • Follow guidance from your local government and public health officials for social distancing and in several states, sheltering in place. Stay inside as much as possible. For more visit the CDC website
  • Follow CDC guidance on face coverings while in public. Read more.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, several times a day.
  • Do not share household items such as hand towels and dishes.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer which kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Contact a health care provider and stay home if you have symptoms.

What to Do If You or Someone in Your Home Gets Sick With COVID-19

  • Make sure the sick person rests at home and drinks lots of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Do not share a bedroom with a sick person. By itself, a bed is a surface where a sick person can spread the coronavirus with just a sneeze or a cough.
  • If possible, have the sick person use their own designated bathroom so no one else in the house is exposed to contaminated surfaces such as faucets, sink counters, toilets and door knobs.
  • Wear disposable gloves when touching the sick person, their environment and used/touched items or surfaces.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms.

Read More About Preventing the Spread in Your Home

Smoking and COVID-19

As with any lung illness, smoking increases the risk of negative health effects among those infected with COVID-19. People who smoke are at no greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 than others; however, they are more likely to experience serious complications if they become infected. Preliminary research suggests that smokers infected with COVID-19 are nearly 1.5 times more likely to have severe symptoms and 2.5 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU, need mechanical ventilation, or die compared to non-smokers. While research into the effects of smoking on COVID-19 outcomes is limited and will continue as cases increase, experiences with other lung illnesses suggest that smoking will continue to be a significant risk factor for adverse health outcomes among those diagnosed with COVID-19.

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Lung Health News and Updates

Passionate about lung health? So are we. We are working to build a future free of lung disease. A world without asthma, COPD, or lung cancer. A world with clean air where everyone breathes easier. Sign-up for our RHA e-newsletter for updates about policies we’re promoting, how our programs impact the community, and ways you can get involved. 

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