Frequently asked questions about coronavirus, COVID-19

Confirmed cases have skyrocketed across the state.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new infectious disease, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. It is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. COVID-19 is the abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019. In COVID- 19, ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus and ‘D’ for disease. 


What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are mild symptoms, including sore throat, cough, and fever, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear 2 to 24 days after exposure. 

Can I get tested for coronavirus, COVID-19 on Island?

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital can collect samples for the test, but that testing is done by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It’s the same process that all hospitals in the state are following.


Should I go to the doctor or hospital to be tested?

The first step is to call your primary care physician. Don’t go in without calling ahead. The office will help make your plan for the next steps of care. If symptoms are severe (difficulty breathing), go to the emergency room with a mask (if one is available). If not, obtain a mask upon entering the building, and use hand sanitizer. Remember to avoid contact with others if you are ill.


How does the virus spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets (from coughs or sneezes) that can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, and possibly be inhaled into the lungs. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread may be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with COVID-19, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Additionally, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 


What is the risk in the U.S.?

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and the risk assessment may change daily. The latest updates are available on CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website.


Should I wear a facemask if I’m not showing symptoms?

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).


Source: This is a combination of information from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control.