- Lauren Gelman, MS, Director of Editorial Services, Global Healthy Living Foundation
- Michael George, MD, MS, MPH, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
It has been almost eight months since the COVID-19 pandemic began and much has changed about what we know about how COVID-19 spreads and how to keep ourselves and those around us safe. Rapidly changing information has led to some dangerous myths about COVID-19. This webinar helps debunk some of these myths and shares how up-to-date information helps us make important choices about our safety in this difficult time.
Fast Facts from the Webinar
1. COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, but some routes of transmission are riskier than others.
Person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 is the most common source of infection. COVID-19 is often spread through “respiratory droplets” between people. These droplets are expelled by coughing, sneezing, talking, and shouting. They can linger in the air for several minutes in poorly ventilated, crowded, and indoor spaces. Furthermore, infected individuals are able to spread the virus before showing any symptoms, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of all transmission, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is important to wear a mask, maintain social distance from others when possible, and avoid crowded and indoor spaces to reduce your risk of exposing yourself and others to the virus.
‘Super spreader’ events may account for 80 percent of COVID-19’s spread. A super spreader event occurs when a small number of infected individuals infect many others. This almost exclusively occurs in crowded indoor places with poor ventilation. Naturally, these situations should be restricted, and you should avoid such situations as much as possible to lower your chance of infection and transmission.
It is also possible to contract COVID-19 through surface transmission (touching surfaces like tables, doorknobs, etc.). This is not considered the most common or concerning form of transmission. It poses a lower risk than prolonged interaction with a person who is infected. Still, if you are concerned about this mode of transmission, then the most effective way to protect yourself is to routinely clean high-traffic surfaces and devices and to properly wash your hands at regular intervals, especially after coming home from outside.
2. Face masks protect both those who wear them and others around them.
In the absence of a vaccine, face masks are one of our most effective tools in combatting the spread of COVID-19. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, you can still infect others, since carriers often don’t know that they are infectious. Wearing a mask protects those around you. As people exhale, masks act as a barrier to filter out most droplets and the viral particles they carry. Thus masks greatly reduce the amount of virus particles you could spread if you have the disease.
Masks also reduce the amount of virus particles that enter into your body if you’re near someone who is infected.
3. Dose matters (in terms of exposure to the virus).
There is evidence that the amount of virus you are exposed to (“viral dose”) has an impact on whether or not you get infected, as well as how bad your symptoms may be if you do get sick.
The higher the viral dose, the more likely you are to become ill and to have a worse experience with the disease. For this reason, it’s important to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
4. You don’t need to feel sick to be sick.
You can spread coronavirus if you are asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, or symptomatic. A person who is asymptomatic has the disease or infection but may not feel sick or show any symptoms. A pre-symptomatic person has already been infected but is not yet showing symptoms. A person is symptomatic when they feel sick and show symptoms. It is possible to spread the disease in all three cases, which is why wearing a face mask is extremely important.
5. COVID-19 isn’t just a respiratory disease.
The novel coronavirus might begin with common respiratory illness like symptoms that include cough, fever, and sore throat. However, in many people, the virus has caused a range of symptoms that include loss of taste and smell, blood clots, nausea, diarrhea, pneumonia, and even multi-system organ failure. It can cause systemic inflammation and affect the entire body. Some people with COVID-19 have lingering symptoms that persist for months after their infections have cleared. People with symptoms lasting months are referred to as COVID-19 “long-haulers.”
6. Participating in activities means weighing the risks you are willing to take and learning to make activities safer.
Each of us faces a risk of getting COVID-19 as we go about our daily lives and activities. Here are ways to reduce the risk of infection:
- Wear a mask or other appropriate face covering
- Keep in-person interactions limited to a small group
- Postpone or limit travel
- Refrain from close personal contact (i.e. hugs, kisses, handshakes)
- If you must interact with others, try to do so outside
- Wash your hands and disinfect commonly touched surfaces
CreakyJoints has published a series of articles exploring the risks of engaging in certain activities and how to make them safer when possible. These include:
- Is It Safe to Go to the Gym?
- Is It Safe to Go to a Restaurant?
- Is It Safe to Get a Manicure or Pedicure?
- Is It Safe to Get a Haircut?
- Is It Safe to Ship Packages?
- Is It Safe to Go to the Movies?
- Is It Safe to Travel by Plane?
- Is It Safe to Take Public Transportation?
- Is It Safe to Carpool with Other Kids?
- Is It Safe to Have Indoor Playdates?
For more information on how to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic when you have underlying health issues and chronic illness, join the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s Free COVID-19 Support Program for Chronic Disease Patients and Their Families.
Get Involved in Arthritis Research
If you are diagnosed with arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition, we encourage you to participate in future studies by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first-ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. Learn more and sign up here.