If you think you’re infected

Week 11 (March 9-15)

Do I have COVID?

The most tell-tale signs of a COVID infection are:


-Dry cough

-Shortness of breath

More details on symptoms here.

A snuffy/runny nose is a sign that you probably have just a regular respiratory infection.

What do I do now?

If you are severely ill, go to the hospital. If you think you can rest at home, call your doctor. Your doctor will probably tell you just to stay home, hydrate, and self-isolate for 14 days. There are no treatments available at this time. This is a virus, not bacteria, so antibiotics are not helpful.

Should I try to get tested?

There are many advantages to knowing if you’re positive or negative for COVID. You can inform people you had prior contact with, since there does seem to be transmission in conjunction with the very first mild symptoms.

When you recover from COVID, you will have immunity for at least the near term. When all hell breaks loose, it would be highly useful to have a cadre of people who know they are immune who could be on the front lines to serve vital roles in the community. For example:

(a) Delivering groceries and essentials to older people at home

(b) Interacting with patients arriving for COVID testing at drive-through clinics

That said, there is a severe shortage of testing capacity for COVID. Most people are being told to not even try.

7 replies
  1. Tom W.
    Tom W. says:

    If I had COVID-19 and got over it, would I still test positive? Is there a way to test whether I have the antibodies to COVID-19?

  2. Martha Nelson
    Martha Nelson says:

    You wouldn’t test positive by PCR. Antibodies could be picked up by a serology test. CDC is developing one.

  3. Neil Rosenberg
    Neil Rosenberg says:

    Without trying to be a Pollyanna, the actual death rate for the overall general population in US is much less than 1%. As of March 14 evening there were 2,695 confirmed cases and 59 deaths or a putative rate of 2.18% mortality rate. But of course we know with our dismal under testing there are certainly far more cases in the country. The deaths which are more easily confirmed are likely close to actual. Epidemiologically speaking, it is generally assumed for every case of a reportable disease (e.g Lyme disease, influenza) there are 5 to 10x more actual cases in the community. Assuming the best case scenario of Covid, five times more cases as of Saturday night (i.e. 13,475) and the deaths are 59, the actual mortality rate is .041%. Even assuming the actual deaths are twice the 59 ( i.e 118), the mortality rate is .087%. Certainly this nothing to cheer about, but let’s not exaggerate issues here either in an effort to use fear tactics to spook the public.

    • Martha Nelson
      Martha Nelson says:

      Your numbers are flawed, for reasons I’ll maybe explain in a future blog post. But you don’t actually need to fuss over numbers here. Just look at Italy.

  4. Bonnie
    Bonnie says:

    Please comment on precautions for those of us who live in an apartment building.
    Questions arise concerning common areas, including the elevators, mail room, lobby and gym. Is it ok to go to the gym if you wear protective gloves, sanitize equipment before and after use, and stay 6 feet away from anyone there?

  5. Frederic hill
    Frederic hill says:

    thank you for this blog; i’ve forwared to 750, and heard from many that they view as one of the most straightforward and sensible, informed sources, at a critical time.


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