The following are answers to the most common questions our parent organization NAACP received during and after their tele-town hall on March 15, 2020. Please note, along with the NAACP, we are continuing to respond to questions and will update current responses as needed.
Risk, Prevention, Testing and Health Care
1. If a person contracts COVID-19, how long until that person is no longer contagious?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, who have isolated themselves at home can stop isolation under the following conditions:
If you will not be tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:
You have not had a fever for at least 72 hours without the use of fever reducers, AND
other symptoms have improved, such as cough and shortness of breath, AND
at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
If you will be tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home if you meet the following conditions:
You no longer have a fever without the use of fever reducers, AND
other symptoms have improved, like your cough or shortness of breath, AND
you’ve received two negative tests back-to-back and 24 hours apart. Your doctor will follow the CDC’s guidelines.
Please follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and your local health department; they should inform your decision to stop isolating at home. Note that local decisions regarding isolation will depend on local circumstances.
2. Once a person has been tested positive for the coronavirus and recovers can they be infected again?
Researchers don’t know yet if reinfection can occur. Even after their symptoms have dissipated, some patients still test positive for the virus for some time.
3. What is the plan for our communities of color to prevent the coronavirus?
While the administration and federal agencies work to address the pandemic in the US overall, the NAACP continues to focus on the needs of African Americans and other people of color during and after the crisis. As part of our efforts, we’ve developed Coronavirus Equity Considerations, a policy-making and advocacy framework that ensures communities of color will not be left behind or further marginalized at this critical time. For a summary of the document, click here.
4. Where are we with a vaccine and/or cure?
Currently, no approved vaccines exist to prevent coronavirus infection. In Seattle, the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) has launched a clinical trial to evaluate a vaccine that would protect against coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding the trial, which will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers 18-55 years of age over a six-week period. The first participant received the trial vaccine on March 16.
5. Will there be enough test kits for all states?
As of March 16, public and private labs in the U.S. have the ability to test more than 36,000 people a day and the number is expected to continue rising. However, testing capacity varies by state and doesn’t necessarily reflect how many tests are actually given to patients. To learn more, click here.
6. What are the underlying medical conditions that put you at risk, and do they include a respiratory condition?
COVID-19 is a new disease and experts are still learning about risk factors for severe disease. According to the CDC, based on current clinical information older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
The high-risk groups for complications from COVID-19 include:
People aged 65 years and older
People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
People who have heart disease with complications
People whose immune system is compromised, including those undergoing cancer treatment
People with conditions such as diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease, especially if it’s not well controlled
People who are severely obese, with a body mass index above 40 (In the USA, BMI is calculated as [weight ÷ height²] x 703)
People who are pregnant should be monitored given their higher risk for viral illness; however, data on COVID-19 have not confirmed increased risk so far.
7. What should we be doing to prevent the spread of the virus?
The coronavirus can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are spread when a person with the virus sneezes, coughs or exhales. These droplets land on nearby objects and surfaces, and others can catch the virus by touching these objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Because the virus can be airborne, people can also catch it if they breathe in droplets from an infected person who coughs, exhales or sneezes.
To prevent the spread of the virus, please follow these recommendations from the CDC:
Stay at home if you’re sick, except to get medical care
Keep six feet of distance between you and others and avoid close contact with people who are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze and throw away any used tissues in the trash
Wear a facemask around others if you are sick
Clean your hands often with soap and water, or with a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces daily, such as door knobs, tables, phones, faucets, and sinks