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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated 1/24/2022

NormanMD remains updated about COVID-19 and will continue to add new information to this page as it becomes available.

Read the latest COVID-19 updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Jump to topics: COVID-19 Delta and Omicron VariantsCOVID-19 Vaccine | Social distancing | Risk factors | Common symptoms | Diagnosing & testing | When to seek medical care | Treatment | Prevention | Returning to Work After COVID-19 Illness

COVID-19 Delta and Omicron Variants

  • What is the Omicron variant?

    The Omicron variant (known as B.1.1.529) is a highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus strain. The CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms. More data are needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.

  • What is the Delta variant?

    The Delta variant (known as B.167.2) is a highly contagious (and possibly more severe) SARS-CoV-2 virus strain. The CDC considers the Delta variant a Variant of Concern (VOC). A VOC seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths primarily for unvaccinated individuals. Currently, the Delta variant accounts for the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the US. It's possible it has a slightly higher likelihood of causing more severe disease, but the data is inconclusive.

  • What are the symptoms of the Delta and Omicron variants?

    Symptoms of the Delta and Omicron variant are more like a bad cold. The most common symptoms are:

    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Runny nose
    • Fever
    • Cough
  • Are vaccines effective against the Delta and Omicron variants?

    Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Delta and Omicron variants. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 12 years and older should get a booster shot at least two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine or six months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

COVID-19 Vaccine

  • What are the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines?

    The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are both Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. The FDA has authorized the emergency use of both vaccines to prevent COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine can be used for individuals 5 years of age and older and the Moderna vaccine is for individuals 18 years of age and older under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

  • What are the side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

    It is normal to have some side effects after any vaccination, like pain and swelling where you received the shot. You may also have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. They are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may slow you down but should go away in a few days.

  • What are the risks of allergic reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

    The CDC recommends that someone with a history of severe allergic reactions or anaphylactic reaction to anything NOT in the vaccine can still get the COVID vaccine but must be observed for 30 minutes after vaccination instead of 15 minutes. If someone has had an anaphylactic reaction to any component that is PART OF the vaccine, then the vaccine should not be given.

  • Who should NOT get the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

    You should not get the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine if you:

    • had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine.
    • had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of this vaccine. Learn more.
  • What are the guidelines if I've been vaccinated?

    If you've been fully vaccinated:

    • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
    • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
    • If you've been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don't have symptoms.

    Keep taking precautions in public places such as wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

    Learn more.

  • What are the ingredients in the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine?

    The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine includes the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose. Learn More.

  • What are the ingredients in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine?

    The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine contains the following ingredients: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose. Learn more.

  • How are the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines given?

    • Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are given as an injection into the muscle.
    • Both are a vaccination series of 2 doses.
    • Pfizer's 2nd dose is given 21 days after the first dose and Moderna's is given 1 month after the first dose.
    • You must receive a second dose of the same vaccine to complete the vaccination series. Learn more.
  • What is an mRNA vaccine?

    Messenger RNA (mRNA) is the genetic material that a virus or a cell in your body uses to teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

  • How does the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine work?

    The COVID-19 virus uses mRNA to produce the spike protein that forms the outer layer of the virus. The spike protein in the virus generates an immune response. The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of the spike protein, our immune system recognizes it does not belong and begins making antibodies. The advantage of an mRNA vaccine is that it generates a stronger type of immunity –making antibodies and immune system killer cells – a double strike against viruses. Learn more.

  • How new are mRNA vaccines?

    Scientists have been exploring developing mRNA vaccines as far back as 30 years ago, so it's not an entirely new concept. In fact, it's relatively easy and fast to make mRNA in large quantities in the laboratory. mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells. Learn more.

  • Should I be concerned about having genetic material injected into me?

    Messenger RNA (mRNA) enters the immune cells in your body as a message for that cell to create proteins that generate an immune response. The mRNA gets rapidly degraded inside the cell and never enters the nucleus of the cell (where your DNA is contained). So, the mRNA is not interfering or interacting with your genetic material.

  • Who will be the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

    Phase 1 of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program in Texas will involve very limited distribution of vaccine for first responders and frontline healthcare workers. Inventory, distribution, and any repositioning of vaccine will be closely monitored through reporting to ensure end-to-end visibility of vaccine doses. Read more about the phased rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.

  • Should I get the vaccine if I am pregnant?

    The COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been studied in pregnant women. This is best discussed with your Ob/Gyn physician so you can consider exposure risk and health complications.

  • Is the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine safe for children ages 5-17?

    Tens of thousands of volunteers ages 5-17 were involved in clinical trials for the vaccines. The clinical trials showed that the COVID-19 vaccines are remarkably safe and effective before they got FDA emergency use authorization.

    The FDA has given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine emergency authorization to use in children ages 5 through 15 years old and full approval to use in people ages 16 years and older. Learn more about the process of developing, authorizing, and approving COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines continue to be monitored very closely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that COVID-19 vaccines will have "the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history."

  • If I had a positive COVID-19 test or if I have antibodies is the vaccine needed?

    People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated as re-infection is possible. Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. We won't know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data. Click here for more information.

  • How long does immunity last from the vaccine?

    We won't know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about. Click here for more information.

Social distancing

  • Is it still important to practice social distancing?

    Social distancing minimizes the spread of the virus. When we stay away from many people we deprive the virus the opportunity to move from one person to another. 

    • Inside your home
      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
      • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
    • Outside your home 
      • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
      • Stay at least 6 feet from other people, especially if you are at higher risk of getting very sick.

    Read more about how to protect yourself.

Risk factors

  • Am I at risk for COVID-19 in Central Texas?

    There is now community spread of COVID-19 in Central Texas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the City of Austin are working closely with CDC in monitoring the developing outbreak.

    Read more about the risk of COVID-19 in the Austin area

    Read more about the risk of COVID-19 in Texas

    View the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking map

  • How easily does COVID-19 spread?

    The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily and sustainably in the community ("community spread") in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The virus spreads between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

    Read more about how COVID-19 spreads.

  • Are children at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality from COVID-19 infection compared with adults?

    Limited reports from China suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms and though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon. However, as with other respiratory illnesses, certain populations of children may be at increased risk of severe infection, such as children with underlying health conditions.

    Read more about COVID-19 and children.

  • Are pregnant women more susceptible to infection, or at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality with COVID-19, compared with the general public?

    The CDC does not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses. No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In these cases, which are a small number, the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.

    Read more about COVID-19 and pregnant women.

  • Is breastfeeding safe when a mother has an infectious illness?

    Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended. The CDC recommends a mother with sypmtoms or with confirmed COVID-19 should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.

    Read more about COVID-19 and breastfeeding.

Common symptoms

  • What is COVID-19?

    COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

  • What symptoms require immediate attention?

    If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs* include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.

    Read more about COVID-19 symptoms.

    *This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

  • What are the symptoms?

    Most people, especially children and those under 60 with no chronic medical conditions, who contract COVID-19 develop very mild symptoms that include fever, a dry cough, and fatigue, few will develop more advanced symptoms such as shortness of breath.

    covid19 symptoms

    The World Health Organization (WHO) found that nasal congestion occurs in only 4.8% of patients. Some people, usually with additional medical complications, can develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.

    If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs* include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.

    *This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

  • What are similarities between flu, and COVID-19?

    Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

    • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue (tiredness)
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Muscle pain or body aches
    • Headache
    • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea

    Signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.

    Click here to read more.

  • How can I tell if I have a cold, flu, allergies, or COVID-19?

    A stuffy nose, sore throat, and a cough are all common symptoms. While there are subtle ways to help you distinguish between cold, flu, and allergies, COVID-19 is less predictable. No matter what may be slowing you down, we recommend extra caution this season. Stay home if you are not feeling well to avoid spreading any virus you may be carrying. Chat with an NormanMD doctor if you have questions or other health concerns.

Diagnosing & testing

  • What is the difference between the RT-PCR test and antigen test?

    Both the molecular (PCR) test and antigen test for COVID-19 are diagnostic tests. The PCR test detects the genetic material of the virus and the antigen test detects specific proteins from the virus. According to the FDA, antigen tests are more likely to miss an active COVID-19 infection compared to molecular tests. ARC offers the RT-PCR test. Learn more.

  • Can I get tested without an appointment with a doctor?

    New and established patients can schedule drive-up testing for COVID-19 at ARC WITHOUT a telemedicine or in-person visit. If you are asymptomatic you can schedule a drive-up Direct COVID-19 Test. Currently, it takes 1-3 days to receive results.

    • Book at ARC MyChart if you already have an account.
    • Book online if you are new to ARC or do not have a MyChart account.
  • Where can I get pre-op COVID-19 testing?

    ARC offers pre-op COVID-19 testing at our drive-up sites for new and established ARC patients. 

    • If an ARC physician is doing the surgery, they will enter the lab order and you can go straight to a drive-up testing site.
    • If a non-ARC physician is doing the surgery:
      • Book at ARC MyChart, if you already have an account.
      • Call the 24/7 COVID-19 hotline at 866-453-4525 if you are new to ARC or you do not have a MyChart account.
    • Schedule your appointment within 7 days of your surgery.
  • Is there a number I can call with questions?

    The ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline is open 24/7 at 866-453-4525. The hotline provides advice on self-care and treatment recommendations.

    You always have the option of scheduling an appointment with us if needed or you can speak with a nurse if you have questions.

  • How do I know if I need a viral test or antibody test?

    A viral test is a nasal swab and tells you if you have a current infection. An antibody test is a blood test and can tell you if had a past infection. Both tests are offered at ARC to new and established patients. We can also set up business accounts for employers who would like to pay for testing for their employees.

  • How does drive-up testing work?

    New and established patients can schedule drive-up testing for COVID-19 without a telemedicine or in-person visit if they are asymptomatic. An ARC clinician will screen each patient at the drive-thru testing site. For those who do not require immediate medical attention, a nasal swab will be obtained and sent to the lab for COVID-19 testing. 

    Read more about drive-up testing

  • How long does it take to get the results?

    It normally takes 1-2 days to receive results, except during periods of high demand.

  • Can I do a telemedicine visit with my ARC doctor?

    Most ARC primary and specialty care doctors offer telemedicine visits if appropriate. A telemedicine visit may be carried out by video or phone call. You can request a telemedicine visit at the time you book your appointment. In some cases, if an in-person office visit is booked, your doctor may decide to see you via telemedicine. If that happens your healthcare team will contact you in advance. Many of our patients appreciate being able to take care of their medication refills and COVID-19 evaluations without leaving their homes. You can book many telemedicine visits on ARC MyChart.

  • What if I test negative for COVID-19 and still have symptoms?

    If your COVID-19 test result is negative but you have symptoms related to the illness, you may still have the virus in your system and should continue to protect yourself and minimize spread.

    Please remain in home quarantine no less than 5 days from the onset of symptoms AND until you have been fever-free without medications for 24 hours AND until you have improvement in cough and shortness of breath. Practice strict home hygiene to avoid spread in your household.

    Treat your symptoms with over the counter medications and call the ARC 24/7 COVID-19 hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have emergency warning signs such as persistent and worsening shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or confusion. Our nurses and doctors can determine if we can care for you in our clinic or if you need to go to the ER.

  • Should I do a blood type test?

    There was a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that suggests that blood type can impact the risk of developing severe COVID-19. However, the study is still inconclusive and your blood type will not change recommended preventive or treatment measures. The presence or absence of underlying health problems, like chronic heart and lung disease, has much more of an impact than the possible association with blood type.

    It is not currently recommended that you do blood type testing to determine COVID-19 risk and there are contradictory findings at other institutions. A blood type test is also not covered by most health plans. If you would like to check your blood type and prefer not to spend the out-of-pocket lab fees, we recommend donating blood if you meet the requirements. When you donate blood, you are informed of your blood type and also help the community's blood supply.

  • Where do you offer drive-up testing?

    ARC conducts COVID-19 drive-up testing at the locations listed below.

    Drive-up COVID-19 Testing Locations - North to South

    ARC Cedar Park

    ARC Round Rock 

    ARC Far West 

    ARC South 1st 

    ARC Southwest

    ARC Kyle Plum Creek

    Read more about drive-up testing at ARC

  • Can anybody get tested for COVID-19?

    Doctors determine who should be tested based on current CDC guidelines and the patient level of risk. Doctors are more likely to test high-risk patients with fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient.

    If you are not at high risk we will advise you on treating your symptoms.

  • Where do I go to get tested if I have fever, dry cough, and suspect COVID-19?

    Start with NormanMD. Our doctors determine who should be tested based on current CDC guidelines and the patient level of risk.

  • What if I test negative for COVID-19 and still have symptoms?

    If your COVID-19 test result is negative but you have symptoms related to the illness, you may still have the virus in your system and should continue to protect yourself and minimize spread.

    Treat your symptoms with over the counter medications. Please remain in home quarantine no less than 10 days from the onset of symptoms AND until you have been fever-free without medications at least three days (72 hours) AND until you have improvement in cough and shortness of breath. Practice heightened home hygiene to avoid spread in your household.

  • Will I see my results in NormanMD?

    The doctor will call you with the results. If you are an ARC patient, you’ll be able to access your results in your ARC MyChart account.

  • Where do I get lab and radiology services if the NormanMD doctor recommends an x-ray, lab test, or COVID-19 test?

    Patients are encouraged to discuss and request tests from their PCP. In cases where patients do not have a PCP, NormanMD has a partnership with Austin Regional Clinic (ARC) and you can get an x-ray, lab test, or COVID-19 test at any ARC lab. Visit AustinRegionalClinic.com for more information.

When to seek medical care

  • When should I call my doctor?

    You should seek medical advice if you have symptoms of fever, a dry cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath, especially if you are over 60 or have underlying health conditions. If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

    You can call the 24/7 ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have questions.

  • Do I need to go to the ER?

    You should call 9-1-1 or go to the ER only if you experience emergency warning signs. Emergency warning signs include:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

    We recommend you call your primary doctor at the first sign of symptoms. This will help limit the spread of the virus in our community. It will also allow emergency departments to care for patients with the most critical needs first.

    You can call the 24/7 ARC COVID-19 Information and Advice Hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have questions.

Treatment

  • What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

    Under the latest CDC guidelines (12/27/2021) if your COVID-19 test result is positive, regardless of vaccine status: 

    • Stay home for 5 days.
    • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house.
    • Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days. (If you are unable to wear a mask, quarantine for 10 days total) 
    • If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.

    For asymptomatic people in your household:

    If they have been boosted, or completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months, or completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months, they will no longer need to quarantine according to the CDC, but will need to:

    • Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
    • Test on day 5, if possible.
    • If they develop symptoms get a test and stay home.

    For asymptomatic people in your household that are unvaccinated, or do not meet the vaccination criteria above, they will need to:

    • Quarantine for 5 days, after that, continue to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days.
    • If they are unable to quarantine, they will need to wear a mask around others for 10 days.
    • Test on day 5 if possible.
    • If they develop symptoms get a test and stay home.

    Telemedicine appointments are available at ARC and through NormanMD.com.

  • What should I do if I test negative for COVID-19

    Your COVID-19 test result is negative. However, this does not completely rule out infection with COVID-19. (Note: no lab test is 100% accurate. The COVID-19 is very accurate when positive, but a negative test is less certain). If you would like to consult with a doctor about your results, telemedicine appointments are available at ARC and through NormanMD.com.

    Negative test, no symptoms, exposed, vaccinated:

    If you haven't had symptoms and you were tested due to an exposure to a person with confirmed COVID-19 AND you have been boosted, or completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months, or completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months, you will no longer need to quarantine according to the CDC, but you need to:

    • Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
    • Test on day 5, if possible.
    • If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.

    Negative test, no symptoms, exposed, unvaccinated/or not boosted:

    If you are unvaccinated or completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted, or completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted, you should:

    • Quarantine for 5 days, after that, continue to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days
    • Test on day 5, if possible.
    • If they develop symptoms get a test and stay home.

    For asymptomatic people in your household that are unvaccinated, or do not meet the vaccination criteria above, they will need to:

    • Quarantine for 5 days, after that, continue to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days
    • If they are unable to quarantine, they will need to wear a mask around others for 10 days
    • test on day 5 if possible
    • If they develop symptoms get a test and stay home.

    Negative test, no symptoms, no known exposure:

    If you haven't had symptoms and were tested for another reason (i.e. travel, work, medical procedure, or visitation requirements)

    • A negative test does not mean that you have not been exposed or that you will not develop COVID-19. Make sure to wear a mask, avoid crowds, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash your hands, and watch your health for signs of illness.
    • Keep a copy of your test results with you during travel. You may be asked for them.

    Negative test, but with symptoms:

    You may return to work/school/daycare if you are fever free for 24 hours and your symptoms are improving. If your doctor is more concerned about COVID because of your symptoms or a high-risk exposure, he/she may recommend doing a second COVID test in 24 hours. Either way, you should wear a mask for a minimum of 10 days.

    • If they develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
    • You can treat your symptoms with over-the-counter medications.
    • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache, body aches, fever, and pain.
    • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your fever get better as your body is working to fight the virus.
    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids including broth, tea, or another warm beverage.
    • Use cough drops or an over-the-counter cough suppressant as needed.
    • Honey has been shown to help decrease coughing at night. The adult dose is 2 teaspoons (10 ml) at bedtime.
    • Avoid smoking to protect your lungs from infection.

    Call the ARC 24/7 COVID-19 hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have emergency warning signs so your doctor can determine if we can care for you in our clinic or if you need to go to the ER. Emergency warning signs include:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or excessive sleepiness
    • Bluish lips or face

    For more information:

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/10Things.pdf

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/sick-with-2019-nCoV-fact-sheet.pdf 

    Telemedicine appointments are available at ARC and through NormanMD.com.

  • Are there any treatments available for children and adults with COVID-19?

    The National Institute of Health (NIH) catalogs and summarizes the most up-to-date data on current COVID-19 treatments. It is best to speak to your doctor about available treatments in our community. Learn more.

    These treatments are available at this time in our area, all in limited quantity:

    • Monoclonal antibody treatment is available in limited supply at the Regional Infusion Center. You must be referred by your physician.
    • Paxlovid is currently available in very limited quantities, but we expect better availability over time. Paxlovid must be started within 5 days of symptom onset. 
    • Evusheld has Emergency Use Authorization for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in patients 12 and over with moderate to severe immune compromise. You must be referred by your physician. 

    Antibiotics are not effective to treat COVID-19 since it is caused by a virus and antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections.

  • What is Paxlovid and who can get it?

    Paxlovid is an investigational medicine used to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 with the following guidelines:

    • Adults and children -- 12 years of age and older weighing at least 88 pounds (40 kg)
    • Confirmed COVID-19 infection
    • Within 5 days of symptoms onset
    • High risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, irrespective of vaccination status (For example: Immune-compromised, cancer, multiple advanced medical comorbidities, > 60 years old ...)

    Paxlovid is investigational because it is still being studied. There is limited information about the safety and effectiveness of using PAXLOVID to treat people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. There are guidelines of who should not take Paxlovid and important possible side effects as well. The FDA has authorized the emergency use of Paxlovid under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Download the FDA Paxlovid Fact Sheet.

    ARC doctors will begin prescribing Paxlovid when it becomes available in our community.

    Paxlovid is currently available in the area. ARC doctors can prescribe it for you if you meet the criteria listed above.  

  • How should I take care of myself or family members if I suspect COVID-19 or test positive?

    Treating yourself:

    If you display any signs of COVID-19, the best course of treatment in the majority of cases is to stay at home and treat your symptoms with over the counter medications. Here is what our ARC doctors recommend:

    • Follow CDC recommendations.
    • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache, body aches, fever, and pain.
    • Use the lowest amount of a drug that makes your fever get better as your body is working to fight the virus.
    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids including broth, tea, or another warm beverage.
    • Use cough drops or an over the counter cough suppressant as needed. (Ask the pharmacist what over-the-counter cough medicine is best for your cough. There any many options and your pharmacist can give you good advice).
    • Honey has been shown to help decrease coughing at night. The adult dose is 2 teaspoons (10 ml) at bedtime.
    • Avoid smoking to protect your lungs from infection.

    Read more about what to do if you get sick

    Keeping household members safe:

    • Practice heightened home hygiene to avoid spread in your household by doing the following:What is the ordinance for people who are sick with coronavirus disease?
    • Stay in a specific "sick room" or area and use a separate bathroom (if available).
    • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
    • Don't share household items like cups, towels, utensils. Sanitize those surfaces in common areas such as kitchens.
    • Wear a mask around other people if you are able.

    Call the ARC 24/7 COVID-19 hotline at 866-453-4525 if you have emergency warning signs so your doctor can determine if we can care for you in our clinic or if you need to go to the ER. Emergency warning signs include:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or excessive sleepiness
    • Bluish lips or face

    For more information:

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/10Things.pdf 

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/sick-with-2019-nCoV-fact-sheet.pdf 

  • Would you like to become a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor?

    We Are Blood is actively collecting convalescent plasma donations from individuals who have had a lab-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 and have fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection. This plasma is being used to treat patients currently fighting COVID-19. To qualify as a convalescent plasma donor you must have had a prior lab-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, have experienced no COVID-19 symptoms for at least 14-28 days, and meet standard donor eligibility criteria.

    COVID-19 convalescent plasma has not yet been fully tested for its effectiveness in treating the virus. However, before a vaccine is developed, COVID-19 convalescent plasma is an option for treating current COVID-19 patients and has been used successfully in the past to treat diseases like SARS and Ebola before vaccines were available.

    If you are a fully recovered COVID-19 patient and want to be considered as a convalescent plasma donor, please visit the We Are Blood website for more information. We Are Blood is the provider and protector of the Central Texas blood supply since 1951.

  • Where can I get monoclonal infusion treatment for COVID-19?

    There is one type of Monoclonal Antibody Therapy (Sotrovimab- MAB) that is still presumed to be effective against Omicron. 

    MAB is available in the larger Austin area, but in limited quantities.

  • What is monoclonal infusion treatment and who can get it?

    The FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for monoclonal antibody treatment to treat non-hospitalized adults and children 12 years of age and older. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced molecules that act as substitute antibodies to restore, enhance, or mimic the immune system’s function to attack foreign cells, in this case the COVID-19 virus. These treatments attack a COVID-19 protein making it more difficult for the virus to attach to and enter human cells.

    Monoclonal antibody treatment is available in limited quantites in the Austin area. If you are at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization, it is best to speak to your physician to determine the best course of action.

  • What is Evusheld and who can get it?

    Evusheld is an investigational medicine that has Emergency Use Authorization for use in adults and adolescents (12 years of age and older who weigh at least 88 pounds [40 kg]) for preexposure prophylaxis for prevention of COVID-19 in persons who are:

    • Not currently infected COVID-19 and 
      • Who have moderate to severe immune compromise or 
      • For whom vaccination with any available COVID-19 vaccine is not recommended.

    Austin Public Health administers Evusheld and has very strict criteria – check with your physician for more information. 

    Evusheld consists of two investigational medicines, tixagevimab and cilgavimab. It is administered as 1 dose consisting of 2 separate intramuscular injections.

    Learn more.

Prevention

  • Should I wear a face covering when I go out?

    Austin and Travis County on Monday extended stay-at-home orders until May 8 in new mandates that include requirements for people to wear facial covers when in public. The orders, issued simultaneously by Travis County and the city of Austin, require people over the age of 10 to wear facial coverings when in public, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exceptions can be made for when people are exercising, are outside only with members of their household, or are eating or drinking.

    Facial coverings are required while using public transportation, ride shares or taxis and while pumping gas. But they are not required while riding in a personal vehicle. The recommendation is for use of cloth face coverings and not medical-grade masks or N-95 respirators, which, while better, are in short supply and should be conserved for healthcare workers and first responders.

    Remember, it is critical to understand that a face covering does not substitute for the need to maintain physical distancing and the Stay Home-Work Safe Order. Instead, face coverings — coupled with physical distancing — are seen as important tools to decrease the risk of illness spread.

    Read the CDC recommendation for face coverings
    View the fabric face covering flyer

  • How can I protect myself and my family?

    The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Everyday preventive measures are effective; the same ones that prevent the spread of colds and the flu:

    • Stay home if you are sick and self-isolate until fever is resolved for 72 hours AND symptoms improve AND it has been at least 10 days since symptom onset.
    • Avoid contact with those over 60 and with anyone who has any serious chronic medical conditions.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in a waste basket and wash your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
    • Practice social distancing by avoiding large crowds.
    • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses.
    • Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and anyone else.
    • Avoid non-essential travel.
  • Is a valve mask as safe as other masks?

    No. A "valve mask" only protects the wearer but does not protect people around the person wearing the mask. The valve is one-way, filtering air breathed in, not breathed out. It does not protect people around the wearer because droplets from breath, sneezes, and coughs still spread through the valve. Valved masks do not prevent transmission from infected individuals (with or without symptoms) to people around them. During this pandemic, a surgical mask or cloth mask is far superior. Surgical mask is preferred when you come into the clinic; cloth mask is acceptable. Please ask for a surgical mask from the greeter to replace or wear with your valved mask.

  • If I wear a mask do I still need to social distance?

    Yes, it is critical to understand that a face covering or mask does not substitute for the need to maintain physical distancing. Instead, face coverings — coupled with physical distancing — are seen as important tools to decrease the risk of illness spread.

    Read the CDC recommendation for face coverings

  • How can I talk to my kids about Coronavirus?

    Dr. Elizabeth Knapp, Co-Chief of ARC Pediatrics, suggests that before starting the conversation, parents should first check their own anxiety level. If you are anxious about this conversation, perhaps the other parent or a grandparent or another adult should be the one to have the conversation. Start by asking kids of any age about what they already know. Listen to what they say and correct any misinformation. Start with a question like, “Have you heard grownups talking about a new sickness going around?”

    Read the full article here

  • What can I do to reduce stress and anxiety?

    A few things to reduce stress and anxiety include:

    • Give yourself a break from screens: watching the news, social media, your smart phone.
    • Take deep breaths, eat healthy, outdoor exercise, and get plenty of rest.
    • Do activities you enjoy (keeping in mind the social distancing measures above).
    • Connect with friends and family online or by phone, or in person if everyone is feeling healthy and symptom-free
  • Is it safe to attend local events?

    A few tips for attending local events include:

    • Being in crowded places like restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters puts you at higher risk for COVID-19. Remember to mask, distance, and wash or sanitize hands frequently.
    • Avoid indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors as much as possible.
    • If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.

Returning to Work After COVID-19 Illness

  • Do I need to require a doctor’s notes for my employees to return to work?

    No. As long as your employees have followed CDC Isolation protocol, they can return to work without a doctor’s note.

  • Do the EEOC and CDC recommend doctor’s notes to return to work?

    No. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise that, practically speaking, doctors and other healthcare providers may be too busy to provide such documentation, so employers should consider allowing these employees to return to work as they see fit. Because of this, the CDC does not recommend that employers require their employees to provide communication from a physician or healthcare provider, "clearing," them to return to work.

    Download the Austin Public Health Return to Work Guidance flyer.