What to Do If You Suspect You’re Sick from COVID-19?

Joseph R. Anticaglia MD
Medical Advisory Board

Americans have been bombarded with information about COVID-19. There have been mixed messages as to what you should do to protect yourself from getting it and how you should behave to prevent transmitting the disease to others.

If I have flu-like symptoms; “When should I contact my doctor or get tested for Covid-19? When will it become safe to get a haircut, swim in a pool, go to a sporting event or return to my house of worship? Will antibodies obtained from cured COVID-19 people offer me immunity to the disease?”

People have opined about containment and mitigation, physical distancing, facial masks or a saliva — “spit test” to diagnose the disease. Some have promoted Remdesivir, an investigational antiviral agent, as having great potential to treat this disorder. A recent report downgraded its effectiveness.

Others have hyped hydroxychloroquine, the drug to treat malaria, as a panacea for COVID-19. Recent studies suggest that hydroxychloroquine instead of helping COVID patients may be more harmful to them. Utterances about the potential benefits of bleach, disinfectants or sunlight to treat COVID-19 have staggered the body and stupefied the mind.

Messages have been misleading. What follows are several aspects of the disease and how they may help you decide what to do if suspect you might be sick from the new coronavirus.

This virus is particularly worrisome when it affects the lungs. Most of the time, p eople who test positive for the virus fully recover with no complications. Approximately 15% of the time COVID-19 is severe and it may lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia or hospitalization with dire consequences.

Symptoms to Watch for:

  • Fever — 100.4F or higher
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath (bilateral pneumonia)

Other Symptoms Include:

  • Recent loss of smell and taste
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea

If You’re Sick

If you have, in particular, symptoms in the “watch for” category without a preexisting pulmonary condition such as asthma or emphysema, you may have contracted COVID-19. It’s strongly recommended that you self-quarantine yourself at home.

Take your temperature at least two times a day, eat as best you can and drink enough fluids. If after 2 to 3 days you’re not improving, contact your physician. If your symptoms are worsening and you’re experiencing difficulty breathing, go to the emergency department immediately!

Chronic Risk Factors

People especially at risk for COVID-19 are adults aged 60 or older and persons with chronic health conditions, such as:

  • Lung disease asthma, emphysema, chronic lung conditions)
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • People with a weakened immune system

If you’re elderly and have any of the chronic health conditions listed above, it is especially important for you to protect yourself from this viral infection. A new JAMA study published in April of this year looked at 5,700 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the New York City area.

The authors reported that 88% of these patients had comorbidities. This means that almost 9 out of 10 patients were being treated for two other conditions beside COVID-19.

The four most common comorbid conditions were hypertension (53.1%), ob esity (41.7%), and diabetes (31.7%) and morbid obesity (19%). Besides being elderly, chronic risk factors (e. g. obesity) place you in danger of having the most severe hospital course and death.

How to Protect Yourself from Infection

  • Use masks, preferable n95 masks when in public
  • Practice physical distancing (keep 6 feet away from another person)
  • Avoid all unnecessary gatherings and events

Practice Personal Hygiene

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash or cough into your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

There’s much we don’t know about Coronavirus Disease-19. We don’t fully understand its origin or its long-term effects on the body. We don’t have drugs to treat the virus successfully, nor a vaccine to prevent it. “Does it grant immunity if we’ve recovered from a bout of this disease? If yes, for how long?”

What every mother and father do know is NOT to place bleach or disinfectants within the reach of children to prevent them from drinking these poisons. It’s seems incredible to say this, but there is NO evidence that putting bleach or any disinfectant in the body can cure coronavirus disease-19. Quite the opposite, it can and has killed people and has been used in suicide attempts!

Until scientists validate treatments for COVID-19 or until we have access to a vaccine to prevent it, we need to protect ourselves from contracting and transmitting this infection.

To get legitimate answers to the many questions about COVID-19, we depend on evidence-based information reported by respected scientists. To do our part, if we have flu-like symptoms, we need to be well informed and follow the advice of leaders in the field of infectious diseases and not to listen to people who hype “snake oil” cures for this disease.


Obesity: Approximately 6 out of 10 people treated in the U. S. for COVID-19 were overweight or morbidly overweight (obesity — 41.7% plus morbid obesity -19% = 60.7%).

Nomenclature used for the 2019 coronavirus:

  • 2019 novel coronavirus
  • 2019-nCov (novel coronavirus)
  • SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2)
  • COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019)


  • CDC Center for Disease Control and Prevention; 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019 -nCoV) Situation Summary; Updated January 31, 2020
  • Safiya Richardson MD, MPH; et al; Presenting Characteristics, Comorbidities, and Outcomes Among 5700 Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 in the New York City Area; JAMA, April, 22, 2020
  • Joseph R. Anticaglia MD; The 2019 New Coronavirus Outbreak What You Need to Know What to Do; Doctor’s Column, HC Smart, 2020
  • Joseph R. Anticaglia MD. Viruses 101 and the Body’s Battle Against These Relentless Invaders; Doctors Column, HC Smart, 2020

This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.