Coronavirus Questions Answered: What To Expect If You Get It

CDC.gov has recommendations for what to do if you're sick. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

Updated on May 5, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.

What are your questions about the coronavirus?

ideastream is answering as many questions as possible, with help from local experts in a range of fields. You can send us your questions with our online form, through our social media pages and group or call us at 216-916-6476. We'll keep the answers coming on our website and on the air.

Jackie from Cleveland asks: “If you do get the coronavirus and are healthy and under 60, how long should you expect to be sick?”

The World Health Organization says 80 percent of people recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

MetroHealth’s Dr. Amy Ray says those people can expect several days of symptoms, including 4-5 days of high-grade fever, but it may take several days to develop symptoms. 

“From the time of exposure to an infected patient, until the time that one would manifest symptoms, is about five days,” Ray said.

This isn’t a hard and fast number though and can range from 2-14 days between exposure and symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, but keep in mind that not everyone experiences symptoms the same way. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seeking medical attention immediately if you have difficulty breathing or pain in your chest.

Bob from Kent wants to know how long a carrier might be contagious before symptoms manifest.

MetroHealth’s Dr. Amy Ray says people infected with coronavirus are most contagious when they are symptomatic, because they’re coughing and it’s spread through respiratory droplets. But according to the CDC, it is possible for those newly infected with the virus to spread it to others before they develop symptoms, which could take 2-14 days.

Ray says people are most contagious 2-4 days after symptoms appear, and then the risk of transmission diminishes daily thereafter.

You can find more information about what to do if you become infected at CDC.gov.

Kendall asks on Facebook what the recovery rate has been for people who have had the virus.

MetroHealth’s Dr. David Margolius says on average, the rate of recovery is over 95 percent for Ohioans. But he says this number will change as we get a better understanding of asymptomatic and mild cases that might have gone undiagnosed. 

The recovery rate also changes by age group. University Hospitals’ Dr. Keith Armitage says worldwide data show the mortality rate for people in their 60s is 4 percent, but that jumps to 8 percent mortality for people in their 70s and 14 percent for people 80 and up.

Surviving is just one way of looking at recovery rate, though, says University Hospitals’ Dr. Amy Edwards. She says we don’t yet know what long-term complications a person might have after surviving COVID-19, so saying someone fully recovered from it might not be accurate. 

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