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We are all afraid of what will happen if we get sick. But you can get help if you are sick. Prepare yourself and your family in case someone gets sick. Learn how to find help if you are not a citizen.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are the signs that you are sick. Not everybody who has COVID-19 gets all the symptoms. Most people get sick and then get better without needing medical care. A few people have no symptoms. Some people get very strong symptoms.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Shortness of breath
Most people with COVID-19 also feel very tired. Other symptoms are: aches and pains in your body, a blocked-up or runny nose (like a cold), a sore throat, diarrhea, and losing your sense of smell.
IMPORTANT: Even your symptoms are mild, ask to have your oxygen levels checked. Many people with COVID-19 have low oxygen levels and do not know. Low oxygen levels are very serious. But if your oxygen levels are treated quickly, you can get better much more easily.
What should I do if I am sick?
Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home. You should call your doctor or public health office to get advice. They will ask you questions and tell you what to do. Go to the CDC website to find the health department in your state.
Here are tips from the CDC about how to take care of yourself at home:
- Stay home from work, school, and away from other public places.
- Monitor your symptoms and call your health care provider if they get worse.
- Get rested and stay hydrated.
- If you have a health care appointment, make sure to call and tell them in advance that you may have COVID-19.
- Cover your cough and sneezes.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often.
- Try to stay in a separate room from other family members so that they do not get sick.
- Avoid sharing personal items with other people in your household, like dishes, towels, and bedding.
- Clean all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs.
If you or your children have an illness that is not like COVID-19, you should do the same as you would usually. If you are not sure what to do, call your public health department before you go to a doctor or health center.
If a person’s fever is very high, or if they have trouble breathing, you must get help. If their face or lips are blue, get help. If they are confused or sleepy, get help. Call 911 or your doctor or hospital emergency room before you go in. Make sure to tell them you may have COVID-19. They will ask you questions and tell you what to do.
- Isolation means staying separate from other people if you are sick, so you do not infect them. You can be in isolation at home, and you can be in isolation in the hospital. If you are isolated in the hospital, you will not be allowed to have visitors.
- Quarantine means staying in one place away from other people for a period of time in case you are sick. This might be by yourself or with your family. For COVID-19, the quarantine period is usually 2 weeks.
- If you are sick or have been exposed to the virus, call your health department. They will tell you if you need to isolate or quarantine yourself.
- Find out your doctor’s name in case you need to speak to them.
- Tell the hospital staff the truth about your past illnesses, the medicines you take, and anything that may affect your health. They can help you better if they know everything.
- If there is something you do not understand, ask for it to be explained more clearly.
- You have the right to request an interpreter at the hospital. If one is not available, ask the hospital staff to use Google Translate or Tarjimly on their phone if language is a problem.
- If the medical staff is too busy and you are worried about something, ask for a patient advocate. An advocate is someone who speaks on your behalf.
- Ask the hospital to give updates to your family member or personal contact if you cannot speak to them yourself.
- Do you need help communicating because you are disabled? Read and download information about your rights and a form to take to the hospital in English and in Spanish.
Should I be tested for coronavirus?
You can take a test to see if you have COVID-19. A medical worker will put a small stick in your nose and take a sample of cells. Your sample is tested in a laboratory. A positive test result means you have COVID-19. A negative test result means you do not have the COVD-19.
CDC says that not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. But testing can help you decide what to do to take care of yourself and protect other people. If you have symptoms and want to get tested, call your health department or doctor. Go to the CDC website to find the health department in your state.
What if I am undocumented?
You can get healthcare if you are undocumented but call before you go to a medical center. If you have symptoms, call your public health department before you go to a doctor or health center. Health clinics and hospitals that help immigrants and low-income Americans are not required to report legal status, and patients are protected by US privacy laws. You can find more information for immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees during the emergency.
What if I do not have health insurance?
In most communities in the USA, you can find a health clinic that serves low-income and uninsured patients. You can search for an affordable or free health center near you.
This information comes from trusted sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. USAHello does not give legal advice or medical advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal or medical advice. Our health information has been reviewed by USAHello board member Tej Mishra, a US public health professional and epidemiologist.