What You Should Know About COVID-19

What You Should Know About COVID-19

By Marc R. Watkins, M.D., MSPH, FACOEM - Kroger Health Chief Medical Officer

Last Updated: January 29, 2021

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first detected in China in December 2019. As we’re all aware by now, this highly contagious respiratory virus has rapidly traveled around the world, infecting more than 90 million people and killing more than 2 million as of January 2021.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? How does it spread?

As community spread of the virus continues, expect symptoms to include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Up to 80% of individuals have relatively mild symptoms and can recover at home. The virus spreads mainly from person-to person via respiratory droplets (when someone coughs or sneezes).

Who is at high risk for COVID-19?

Most of what we know about the disease shows that older adults (≥ 65 years of age) are more likely to get very sick from this illness. In fact, 8 out 10 COVID-19 deaths in the US are adults 65 and older. In addition, those individuals who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and lung disease are also at greater risk for getting very sick from this virus.

If I am high risk, what should I be doing?

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you and your family.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others. This will help stop the spread of the virus.
  • Social distance: avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone you do not live with.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stock up on supplies such as prescription medications and over-the counter medications to treat fever and other symptoms.
  • Take everyday precautions. Clean and wash hands often, avoid crowds, avoid all non-essential travel (including plane trips) and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.
  • Know that COVID-19 is spreading in every community. Stay home as much as possible.
  • Call your health care provider if you are not feeling well.

How can I protect myself and my family?

Currently, approved vaccines are being made available in phases, prioritizing health care personnel, long-term care facility residents, frontline essential workers, those over 75 years of age and those with underlying medical conditions, though phases and availability vary by state. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of this respiratory disease (many of which are also included in the recommendations for high-risk individuals listed previously):

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you and your family.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth to prevent spreading the virus.
  • Social distance and stay away from those who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick (do not go to work or school).
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

For more information on COVID-19 please visit:




Disclaimer: This information is educational only and does not provide healthcare recommendations. For any concerns, please see a healthcare provider.

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