American Lung Association: What To Do If You Get COVID-19

American Lung Association provides clarity on how COVID-19 symptoms progress, recovery time, how to interact with close contacts and how long a patient can infect others

More than 7.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including several high-profile figures. Knowing what to do and what to anticipate in the event of a COVID-19 diagnosis has become increasingly critical. American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D., issued the following statement:

“After several high-profile figures received confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses in recent days, many Americans are seeking clarity on how to respond should they or a loved one contract the virus.

“Always work with your healthcare provider following a COVID-19 diagnosis. Most individuals recover at home and the first step to self-isolate and quarantine for 10 days after testing, or symptoms arise without a test, in a separate room away from others in your home. Other residents in your house can help you by bringing food and fluids to your door while wearing a mask and reduce their chance of exposure to the virus. Additionally, when possible, someone who is infected should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. If you live alone, ask a friend or family member, or utilize a food and grocery delivery service, to deliver needed items to your door while maintaining physical distancing measures.

“Do not leave the house or visit public areas except to receive medical care. Contact your physician before you seek non-urgent care. In some cases, you may be able to speak with your doctor via video call instead of leaving your home. If you experience severe symptoms, including trouble breathing or chest pain, and need to seek emergency care, inform the responders of your COVID-19 positivity.

“Up to one in four people infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms or very mild symptoms and may unknowingly spread the virus. Even those who later demonstrate symptoms may spread the virus 48 hours prior to their development. Limiting face-to-face contact with others remains an effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. When someone infected with the virus talks, coughs or sneezes, they are releasing virus droplets from their mouth and nose that can potentially land in the mouth or nose of someone nearby and be inhaled into the respiratory system.

“The time between exposure to coronavirus and infection, as well as onset of symptoms, can vary. Even if you test negative for COVID-19, it is still possible to be infected, especially if you know you have been in contact with someone with the virus recently, which may include up to the past 14 days. When a positive COVID-19 test is reported, contact tracing is usually initiated by your state public health department. If this is the case for you, work closely with the contact tracing team, as they will want to let everyone you’ve recently encountered in person, up to as long as the past 14 days, know of a potential exposure and urge them to begin home isolation and get tested.

“Additionally, symptoms develop at varying times. In many cases, someone is sick with relatively mild symptoms for the first week, and then rapidly declines and will need to be admitted to the hospital for more aggressive treatment. Some people may even feel an improvement in symptoms before becoming more ill.

“If you are sick with COVID-19, current research indicates you may be contagious for up to at least 10 days. Even if you feel better or become asymptomatic, it is still important to adhere to CDC guidelines that urge you to self-quarantine for at least 10 days. If you are infected and do not adhere to the entire self-quarantine period, you are at risk of infecting others.

“The American Lung Association encourages everyone to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus, from mask wearing and physical distancing to self-quarantining if you have been exposed. We know how to prevent the spread of the virus, and it is essential for everyone to take these proven steps to protect your health, your loved ones and your entire community.”

Learn more about COVID-19 at For media interested in speaking with an expert, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7629.

For more information, contact:

Elizabeth Cook
[email protected]

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