Stay Safe and Informed about Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact communities across the U.S. and globally, the American Lung Association is monitoring recent developments, sharing new findings and providing guidance on how to protect yourself and your family from becoming infected and what to do if you become ill. You can trust us to share only science-based information for all Americans, including those with lung disease.
Please reference our Frequently Asked Questions from our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Albert Rizzo for updated, public health guidance. And we encourage you to hear directly from our national president and CEO in this important message.
Visit our COVID-19 disease section to learn:
- Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and questions to ask your doctor.
- How to prevent COVID-19 and stop the spread.
- How COVID-19 affects people with existing lung disease.
COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall
Online Support Communities
Keeping Track of COVID-19
See a map of the current cases and deaths reported in the U.S. and get connected to state health websites. View other data sources to help you understand the impact of COVID-19 in your area. View map.
There are many health-related factors to consider as businesses and services determine when to reopen under the guidance of local jurisdictions. These two themes remain true throughout all recommendations:
- We will be living with the novel coronavirus at least until a prevention or proven-effective treatment is widely available, which is many months off.
- Our primary tools for fighting this disease continue to be social distancing and hygiene measures.
The CDC has established specific guidelines depending on the type of business planning for reopening. Schools, businesses, parks and faith-based organizations can access these Community Mitigation Strategies on their website.
Health experts display new coronavirus cases on a chart that has become a rallying cry to "flatten the curve" through social distancing. An inconvenient reality moving forward is the expectation that any uptick in relaxing social distancing practices may result in further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Limiting face-to-face contact with others remains an effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. When someone infected with the novel coronavirus talks, coughs or sneezes they are releasing virus droplets from their mouth and nose that can travel up to six feet and could potentially land in the mouth or nose of someone nearby that are inhaled into the lungs. Individuals may not have symptoms but may still be infected and able to spread COVID-19. This is why it is important to wear facial coverings when out in public especially when the social distancing (6 feet) is hard to maintain.
There are two types of tests for COVID-19. A viral test taken by nasal swab tells you if you have a current infection on the day you are tested. At this time, the three main reasons to get tested are if you’re having symptoms, have been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19, or have been asked or recommended to be tested by your healthcare provider, local or state health department. In most instances you will need a prescription or order from your physician. The second type of test is an antibody test which might tell you if you had a past infection. Antibodies are proteins produced by our immune system to help stop intruders, like the novel coronavirus, from harming our body. We don’t know what level of antibodies is needed for immunity from getting a second coronavirus infection or how long that immunity will last.
Current guidance from the CDC says that N-95s and surgical masks should be reserved for people who are already sick and healthcare workers that interact with those patients.
But up to one in four individuals infected with COVID-19 might have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, who may be unknowingly spreading the virus. The use of a cloth mask—whether that is a handmade cloth face covering, bandana or scarf—can help slow the spread of COVID-19. These types of masks are not intended to protect the wearer, but to protect against the unintended transmission—in case you are an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus.
Some people have a hard time wearing a cloth face covering at first, especially those with breathing issues already. Check out our steps to help yourself get used to wearing a cloth face covering in public.
A health advisory has been issued by the CDC asking healthcare workers to report any suspected cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). Children with MIS-C experience inflammation in their organs, including the heart, lungs, eyes, brain, skin, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. It can be serious, and sometimes fatal, though prompt medical treatment often results in children getting better. Symptoms may include: a high fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and feeling extra tired.
We do not know what causes MIS-C, but there is a growing body of evidence that many children either had or were around someone who had COVID-19. The novel coronavirus disease has never been seen in humans so researchers are reviewing these emerging cases to better understand who the disease affects and how. We advise you to be in contact with your healthcare provider regarding any new symptoms you or your children may develop.
A new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that small increases in long-term particulate matter exposure are associated with large increases in the COVID-19 death rate. We know that long-term exposure to air pollution can worsen symptoms of lung disease and increase susceptibility to lung infection – which now includes new evidence about air pollution and COVID-19. We have long advocated for stronger air quality health standards. Please join our efforts through our Healthy Air Campaign.
The CDC has identified smokers might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We know that smoking and vaping causes harm to the lungs, leaving lung tissue inflamed, fragile and susceptible to infection. In addition, tobacco use has been proven to harm the immune system and airway lining cells that contain cilia on their surface. which are our essential defenders against viruses like COVID-19. Without them working properly, our lungs are more vulnerable.
If you, or someone you love, is interested in quitting smoking or vaping, visit FreedomFromSmoking.org to access our online smoking cessation program. Or call the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA for one-on-one support.
Several cities have reported higher rates of infections, severe complications and death from COVID-19 among some racial and ethnic minority populations. These reports reflect the persistent inequalities in resource allocation, access to healthcare and other health stressors that communities of color experience. It also highlights the underlying racial disparity in the burden of lung disease among African Americans, who experience higher rates of asthma and lung cancer. Individuals with these chronic medical conditions – while not more likely to contract COVID-19 – could have more severe symptoms if they do become sick.
Read our COVID-19 blog to learn more about topics in the news and important to you. We are talking to patients and caregivers as we navigate this pandemic together. We are sharing stories from healthcare providers who are supporting those affected by COVID-19. We are looking deeper at issues as they impact our daily lives. Read blog articles.
Keeping Your Chronic Condition Well Controlled
While individuals with chronic lung disease are not at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, they are more susceptible to severe complications if they do contract COVID-19. Keeping your lung disease well-controlled is an important factor to your overall health, especially now.
- If you are nervous about a visit to the doctor’s office, call to see if you can keep your regular appointments but have them over the phone or online.
- Continue to follow your Asthma Action Plan or COPD Action Plan.
- Consider mail order pharmacy options for your controller medications. And if your insurance allows, secure a 90-day supply of prescription medications.
- If you use a nebulizer to take inhaled medications at home, continue to maintain your regular medication schedule. Though, if you have suspected or diagnosed COVID-19, speak with your healthcare provider about additional precautions to take when using your nebulizer.
- Stay up-to-date on your vaccinations. Vaccines strengthen our immune systems and help keep you and those around you healthy.
- COVID-19 has also highlighted the importance of quality and affordable health insurance for patients. If you currently find yourself without health insurance, you can review some of your options here.
The important thing to remember is to stay the course when it comes to the long-term management of your chronic medical condition.
Disclaimer: The information in this article was medically reviewed and accurate at the time of posting. Because knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 is constantly evolving, data or insights may have changed. The most recent posts are listed on the EACH Breath blog landing page. You may also visit our COVID-19 section for updated disease information and contact our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA for COVID-19 questions.
Blog last updated: August 21, 2023