Publisher’s note: We have created this ongoing report on information related to COVID-19 as it applies to our communities. It will be updated regularly to reflect changing information.
Our latest coverage
Washington State Department of Health updates
Getting your questions answered
So much has changed in the last several weeks, and the world has learned so much about COVID-19. Let’s review some of our Frequently Asked Questions. Some of the answers have changed since the last time you asked the questions.
Do I have COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever (temp over 100.4 degrees F), tiredness, and dry cough. Some people also get aches and pains, stuffy or runny nose, a sore throat, or diarrhea. Some people get COVID-19 and don’t get any symptoms at all! Some people will get very sick with high fever and difficulty breathing. One of the reasons we are all staying at home as much as possible now is that we can’t always tell when someone might have COVID-19 or be contagious. So if we all stay home, we will not spread the virus, even if we don’t have symptoms (yet) or if we misinterpreted a new cough as allergies or something else.
Should I get tested?
Testing is becoming more available, but we still don’t have as many test kits as we would need to be able to test as many people as we would like. Remember — there are no specific treatments for COVID-19, and most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing medical care. So getting a test result doesn’t change the medical advice you will get. If you have a fever, you should rest, drink lots of fluids, and eat nourishing foods.
I saw on social media that there’s a vaccine or cure or top secret thing doctors don’t want you to know about!
Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, including this virus. There is nothing you can eat, rub on yourself, or inhale that will protect you from this virus or cure it. There is quite a bit of research going on into a vaccine or medications that may help, so I hope to be able to pass on that good news soon. But until then, just scroll past anything that sounds too good to be true.
Does ibuprofen make COVID-19 worse?
This is such a new virus that doctors must make quick decisions for their patients without all the information they need. Some French doctors currently advise against using ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, many generic versions) for COVID-19 symptoms based on a few observations of people with COVID-19 who were taking ibuprofen and got worse. Of course, some people with COVID-19 do get worse. The studies that can help tell us whether ibuprofen may contribute to people with COVID-19 getting very sick haven’t been done yet. So, doctors and public health institutions have to figure out what to do with this little bit of unclear information. The World Health Organization initially recommended using acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen to help with fever and aches related to COVID-19. They have since updated that recommendation to say that either acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used.
I have a regularly scheduled doctor or dental appointment. Should I go?
No. At this point — both to conserve the masks, gowns, and gloves that keep health care safe and to support us all in staying home — you should call your doctor and see if your appointment can be done over the phone or videochat or rescheduled. If you are not in pain, your dental appointment should be rescheduled. Elective surgeries should be rescheduled. Routine vaccine appointments for our little ones should continue. And don’t forget to reschedule any missed appointments and screenings for yourself when all this is over!
Can I get this from my pet?
No. We have no reason to believe our pets can spread COVID-19 to us. Not from licking us or from us petting their fur. And, no, you should not try to get your pet tested for COVID-19.
What can I do to keep my immune system strong?
The best way to keep your immune system strong is to take great care of yourself. Rest, eat fruits and vegetables, drink water, get moderate daily exercise. Try to reduce your stress, and get enough sleep. Connect with a friend or loved one.
What all is closed now?
Well, actually, it’s easier to say what’s open. Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order in Washington state which will be effective for a minimum of two weeks. The order requires every Washingtonian to stay at home. We can leave the house to get groceries or takeout, go for a walk or other exercise, or go to work at an essential business. All grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and food supply chains will remain open.
Do I work at an “essential business”?
Your work is very important. Here is the list of what is defined as “essential”: coronavirus.wa.gov/whats-open-and-closed/essential-business
How long is this going to last?
The Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order will last at least two weeks. It is likely that some amount of social distancing will be necessary for weeks or months beyond that. The better we do at staying home and away from other people, the quicker we will get the virus under control.
If we haven’t covered your question here, you can find great information on the state’s new web portal for information about COVID-19 (coronavirus.wa.gov), on the Department of Health website (www.doh.wa.gov), or on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov).