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Resources to Keep You and Your Family Safe from COVID-19

Part of the Trusted Messengers Project

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact families nationwide. Black and Hispanic American communities have been particularly affected, with higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths.

How can you and your family stay safe from COVID-19?

Get vaccinated. It’s your best protection against COVID-19. The vaccine is safe, effective and free. It can keep you from getting infected and becoming seriously ill if you do get infected. For most people, side effects are minor and last only a day or two. Side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection to COVID-19.

Learn about monoclonal antibody treatment.

If you do get COVID-19, monoclonal antibody infusion therapy can help lower the viral load in your body. People with lower viral loads tend to experience more mild symptoms. Monoclonal antibody treatment is free in most cases and can be used as an outpatient treatment. It works best when given early in the COVID-19 illness. The treatment is recommended for people who are at high risk for severe illness and have had symptoms for 10 days or less.

Continue to follow the three Ws

  • Wear a mask
  • Watch your distance. Avoid large crowds.
  • Wash your hands
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. For your health …and to protect those your family and friends… join the fight against COVID-19
Top Covid Articles
Covid FAQs
Tips for Doctor Visits
Covid Support Resources
Covid vs Flu vs Allergies

Shared Decision Making

COVID-19 Info Center -->

How do I avoid getting COVID-19?

COVID-19 can be passed from person to person, even by people who do not have symptoms. To limit your chance of catching COVID-19, remember the 3 Ws. You should continue to practice the 3Ws, even after you get a vaccine, until your doctor says it is safe to stop.

Graphic of hands washing well in soap

Wash

your hands frequently

Use soap and warm water for 20 seconds

Graphic of two people socially distancing

Watch

your distance

Keep 6 feet apart & avoid large crowds

Graphic of person putting on a mask

Wear

a mask over nose & mouth

Prevent spread of COVID-19 & protect others

Frequently Asked COVID-19 Questions

Are people with asthma at greater risk for catching COVID-19?

People with asthma are not believed to be at higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 — but if you do get infected you may be at higher risk of getting very sick.

COVID-19 can:

  • affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs)
  • cause an asthma attack
  • possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.
Are people with asthma at high risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19?

CDC says adults of any age with moderate to severe asthma may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

However, many studies examining the relationship between asthma and COVID-19 have found no increased risk of severe illness or complications, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

A few studies have revealed nonallergic asthma may be linked to more severe illness from COVID-19, AAAAI says. These studies are not conclusive, however, as it’s not clear if the patients had COPD, a known risk for severe cases of COVID-19.

What’s the takeaway for people with asthma? Keep your asthma under the best possible control at all times, take your daily controller medications as prescribed and follow your Asthma Action Plan. That way your lungs will be healthy and well prepared to fend off any virus or infection.

How do I find out when I can get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines are now widely available in all U.S. states. They are available for all adults and children ages 12-18. Here is how find a vaccination site near you:

  • Visit Vaccine.gov to find a location near you.
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination appointments are available.
  • Call your state or county health department to find vaccination sites in your area.

Widespread vaccination is a critical tool in stopping the pandemic.

 

What are recommendations for people with asthma?

More than 24 million people in the United States have asthma and 10 people die from asthma in the United States daily. It is important to practice COVID-19 prevention strategies if you have asthma due to the increased risk of severe complications.

If you have asthma, be sure to continue to follow your Asthma Action Plan or treatment plan.

Additional things you can do:

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself and others. Visit Vaccine.gov to find a location near you.
  • Know how to use your inhaler correctly.
  • Avoid your asthma triggers.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks daily to protect yourself against COVID-19.
  • Avoid disinfectants and scented hand sanitizers that may cause an asthma attack.
  • Take your asthma medication exactly as prescribed.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider, insurer and/or pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of prescription medications such as asthma inhalers. There is no need to hoard medications.
  • Make sure that you have 30 days of nonprescription medications and supplies on hand in case you need to stay home for a long time.
Who is at the greatest risk for severe COVID-19 complications?

Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. These groups include:

  • Older adults, with risk increasing by age.
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD
    • Weakened immune system from solid organ transplant
    • Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
    • Heart conditions including coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes

     

    People with the following conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

    • Asthma (moderate to severe)
    • Pulmonary fibrosis (damaged or scarred lung tissue)
    • Weakened immune system from immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medications and blood or bone marrow transplant
    • Smoking
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Hypertension or high blood pressure
    • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to brain)
    • Neurologic conditions such as dementia
    • Liver disease
    • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
    • Type 1 diabetes

    Research is ongoing involving whether asthma is a risk factor for more severe complications from COVID-19. While CDC says it MAY be a risk for more severe COVID-19, other studies suggest it is NOT a risk factor.

    Several studies indicate people who have nonallergic asthma – symptoms caused by something other than allergies, such as exercise, air pollution, weather conditions or stress – may be at increased risk for severe COVID-19 compared to those with allergic asthma.

Should I wear a face mask?

As of Dec. 4, 2020, CDC recommends “universal mask use” when outside of your home. This includes both indoor and outdoor settings outside of your home. The reason is that the United States has entered “a phase of high-level transmission of COVID-19.” CDC says consistent use of face masks is critical to stop the virus.

The cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials. They are recommended to help slow the spread of the virus and keep people who may have the virus but not know it from transmitting it to others.

The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Medical face masks are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.

There is no evidence that wearing a face mask can worsen your asthma, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. However, some people with moderate or severe asthma may feel it is more difficult to breathe while wearing a face mask. If you don’t feel you can wear a mask due to your asthma, it may be best for you to stay home or avoid public places as much as possible. Ask family and friends to run errands for you. If you must go out, avoid large crowds and practice social distancing. Being in public without a face mask may increase your chances of getting COVID-19 or passing it on to others.

CDC recommends against using valved masks or vented N95 masks. These types of masks have openings through which air is exhaled. They are designed to filter out particles, but they may be counterproductive, causing the user to release respiratory droplets into the air. CDC says they do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.

For the latest information on mask recommendations, please see Why Face Masks are Critical for People with Asthma During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

COVID-19 can be spread from person to person. Similar to other colds and viruses, it spreads primarily by close contact with someone who is infected. Research reveals that COVID-19 can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Transmission can happen when respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and the virus is released into the air. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Droplets generally don’t travel more than a few feet before they fall to the ground, but there are cases – especially indoors and in places with poor ventilation – where they may travel further or linger in the air.

CDC defines “close contact” as spending a total of 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone who is infectious with COVID-19. The 15 minutes does not have to consecutive; it can occur in a series of brief encounters. It’s believed people need to be exposed to a certain level of the virus in order to get infected; the more exposure, the higher the level of the virus and the more likely people are to get COVID-19.

The risk of COVID-19 transmission indoors is highly variable – it can depend on the size of the respiratory droplets and the airflow in the room. The risk of transmission outdoors is safer than indoors, but there are cases of transmission in crowded outdoor locations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends social distancing, in which we stay at least 6 feet apart from other people, and that we wear face masks when around other people.

COVID-19 can also be spread by touching a contaminated surface or object. (A cell phone or computer keyboard and mouse, for example, are items that can be contaminated with COVID-19.) The virus can be transmitted if you then touch your mouth, eyes or nose.

Is COVID-19 airborne?

COVID-19 most commonly spreads through close contact with an infected person, however according to CDC there is evidence that in certain conditions, it may spread via respiratory droplets to people further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected. The virus may also linger in the air after the infected person has left, potentially infecting those still in the space.

This is called airborne transmission. CDC updated its COVID-19 guidance on Oct. 5 to reflect this assessment.

Transmissions that infect people who are further than 6 feet away have occurred in indoor spaces that have poor ventilation. It could be the infected person was speaking loudly, singing or breathing heavy after exercise.

To avoid exposure and minimize the risk of airborne transmission when indoors, CDC recommends staying at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible, avoid crowded indoor spaces and to cover your mouth and nose with a face mask when around others.

Why is there so much concern about COVID-19?

Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are reported in all states. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed to the virus. People in places where there is ongoing community spread of COVID-19 are at higher risk of exposure, with the risk level dependent on your location, according to CDC.

This is a health situation that continues to evolve. CDC also notes the following:

  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on location.

In addition, certain people are at higher risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19, according to CDC:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions
Is there a COVID-19 treatment available?

There are promising treatments for those who get sick with COVID-19. One is monoclonal antibody infusion therapy. Monoclonal antibodies are given intravenously as infusion therapy before patients need hospitalization. This therapy uses COVID-19 antibodies to help a person’s body fight off the infection. Research suggests these antibodies lower the amount of virus — the “viral load” — in a person’s body. This can help prevent hospitalization and death.

FDA has granted emergency use authorization to sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody treatment that prevents the COVID-19 virus from entering the body’s cells. Sotrovimab is proving effective against many of the COVID-19 variants.

There are also treatments available for people who are hospitalized with COVID-19.

In October 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved remdesivir for use in hospitalized adults and children 12 years of age or older who weigh at least 88 pounds.

Remdesivir, a broad spectrum anti-viral medication, is only administered in a hospital setting or a healthcare facility able to provide acute patient care.

Another COVID-19 treatment is dexamethasone, a type of corticosteroid. It’s used in hospitalized patients who are using ventilators to support breathing or require supplemental oxyten. It is recommended by the National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on people of color?

Racial inequities are central to the national conversation about COVID-19. CDC data reveals the rate of Black Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic/Latino communities who are hospitalized or die from COVID-19 is significantly higher than other races.

Inequalities in healthcare that existed before the pandemic have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities with majority Black and Hispanic populations face limited access to medical care and treatment. There are often fewer COVID-19 testing sites in these communities as well. Some live in substandard or overcrowded housing and are employed in front-line occupations, putting them at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.

The presence of underlying conditions, including asthma, obesity, heart disease and diabetes, may worsen COVID-19 symptoms.

Allergy & Asthma Network is working with partners to provide community-based health screenings and education so we can better address health disparities impacting underserved communities. The Not One More Life Trusted Messengers program offers free COVID-19, asthma and COPD online health screenings and telehealth support.

Learn more about racial inequities in healthcare here and uncover the path to achieving health equity.

What are COVID Long Haulers?

Some people continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms after the infection has passed and testing is negative. Sometimes these long-haul symptoms last for months. They often affect daily lives and the ability to work.

The National Institutes of Health reports between 10-30% of people infected with COVID-19 experience long-term symptoms.

Long-haul symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches and joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sleep problems
  • Nausea
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Some long-term issues become serious. Long haulers are reporting kidney problems, onset of diabetes, lung damage including scarring, and clotting issues that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Long-haul symptoms can occur in people who developed severe COVID-19 illness or had no symptoms at all. Learn more in our COVID-19 Long Haul post.

Types of questions I should ask my doctor during each visit

  • Ask what your vital signs are (blood pressure, weight, temperature), and if they are in the normal range.
  • If your doctor orders tests, ask why they are being ordered and how you should prepare for them.
  • Ask about the benefits and potential side effects of prescribed medicines and how to take and store them.
  • If your doctor recommends a treatment, ask why and if it is the only treatment option available.
  • If there are two or more treatment options, ask about the pros and cons of each and which is right for you.
  • Ask for a visit summary and patient education materials (pamphlets, videos) to learn more about a diagnosis.
  • Ask when you should schedule a follow-up visit. Make an appointment prior to leaving the doctor’s office.
Photo of Black woman wearing a medical mask. She's dressed in a sweater and hat. There's a yellow background behind her.

Tips for better doctor visits

Icon of a document Before a visit, write down your symptoms and questions. Bring all medicines you take with you.
Icon of a clockDon’t be rushed. Go over your questions at your own pace and be clear about what you need.
Icon of hands shaking hello to each otherBe honest about your health and habits so your doctor can provide the best care.
Icon of pencil taking notesTake notes during the visit. If helpful, ask someone to come with you to write down important information.
Icon of cell phoneAlways follow up. Call your doctor to ask more questions or get test results after your visit.
Icon of scales of justiceIf you are discriminated against during your visit, report it to your state’s medical board or health department.

Factors That Impact Your Heath

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Nearly 1/2 of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are among people of color

There are many factors in your daily life that impact your family’s health
  • where you live
  • the type of work you do
  • your level of education
  • whether or not you have health insurance
For people of color, systemic disparities can
  • limit access to healthcare
  • facilitate delays in diagnosis and treatment
  • increase the risk of you or your child getting sick or dying from preventable and treatable diseases
  • result in worse outcomes during infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19

We don’t believe this is right. Allergy & Asthma Network’s Not One More Life Trusted Messengers project aims to empower you with practical information and guidance so you can take charge of your family’s health.

COVID-19 Support Resources

We surveyed thousands of the black community to better understand the questions you need answered about COVID-19. As a result, we have developed the resources below to address your concerns.

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Know the Facts

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and there are finally vaccines that are effective at keeping people from catching the virus. Understandably, you may have a lot of questions about the vaccine and its safety. So, we have answered some of your burning questions. Learn about vaccine safety, side effects, benefits, how they work, when and where to get a vaccine, and the cost. Hopefully, with this information you will feel empowered to make an informed decision about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

More Facts on Covid-19 ➨

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Know Your Health

For people of color, there are inequities within the healthcare system that may put you more at risk. Navigating the healthcare system can be frustrating and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Partnering with your doctor is one way to empower you to take control of your health. But sometimes, walking out of the appointment may leave you with more questions than answers. We understand this and have created some ideas for you to prepare for visits, the types of questions you should ask, and tips to make visits better.

Tips for Better Doctor Visits ➨

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Know the Difference

Are you asking, “are these symptoms COVID-19, allergies, or the flu?”. If the answer is yes, then you are at the right place. Learn about the difference in symptoms, prevention, and treatment for COVID-19, allergies, and the flu. Then let’s look at those most at risk for COVID-19, getting hospitalized, and dying from the disease. People of color have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19 and we want to make sure you understand the difference between COVID-19, allergies, and the flu and what to do if you do get COVID-19.

Learn the difference ➨

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Know Your Risks

COVID-19 is hurting families of color more than any other group in the U.S. Over ¾ of all deaths from COVID-19 in people under 21 are in people of color. What may be causing this? Learn about pre-existing conditions that may put your child or adolescent more at risk from COVID-19. We also know that the pandemic has been tough on children and adolescents. In addition to health concerns, they may be struggling socially, emotionally, and mentally. So, let’s look at tips to support your child or adolescent’s physical, social, emotional, and mental health during the pandemic.

More Covid-19 Risks ➨

For 80% of people, COVID-19 symptoms are mild, and feel like the flu. So what’s the difference?

It’s important to know how you can tell the difference between COVID-19 symptoms, the flu and seasonal allergies and what can put you at risk for COVID-19. Use this table as a guide.

Covid-19

Symptoms

Spread-person-to-person
Fever (100.4° F or higher)
Sore throat
Headache
Fatigue (tiredness)
Muscle or body aches (or chills)
Runny or stuffy nose
Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Nausea or vomiting
Diarrhea
Loss of taste & smell

Flu

Symptoms
Spread person-to-person
Fever
Sore throat
Headache
Fatigue (tiredness)
Muscle or body aches (or chills)
Runny nose or stuffy nose
Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Allergies

Symptoms
Not spread person-to-person
Itchy nose, sneezing
Itchy, watery eyes, redness
Itchy, sensitive skin, rash or hives- swelling
Wheeze, chest tightness
Runny or stuffy nose
Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Covid-19

Prevention

Wear a mask over your nose & mouth

Wash your hands frequently

Watch your distance: avoid close contact with others – keep six feet apart and avoid crowds

Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth

Avoid exposure whenever possible

Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if needed

Flu

Prevention

Wash your hands frequently

Watch your distance: avoid close contact with others – keep six feet apart and avoid crowds

Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth

Avoid exposure whenever possible

Get the flu vaccine

Allergies

Prevention

Avoid your allergy triggers

If you’re not sure what your triggers are, ask your doctor about allergy testing

Medicate for allergies before pollen season or potential exposure

Covid-19

Treatment

Stay home and rest, except to get medial care

Call your doctor if you think you were exposed

Call ahead before going to the doctor

Request a COVID-19 test

Stay away from others

Flu

Treatment

Stay home and rest, except to get medical care

Contact your doctor early if you’re at high risk

Antiviral drugs may be an option for people at high risk for complications and people with lung conditions

Most people don’t need to go to the emergency room

Allergies

Treatment

Take prescribed or over-the-counter allergy medications

Antihistamines

Nasal sprays

Allergy shots

Allergy tablets

Nasal wash/rinse

Shared Decision Making Benefits Patients

Shared Decision Making (SDM) encourages patients and families to take a more central and active role in their healthcare. Patients work together with their doctor to decide treatments and medication options. It’s evidence-based and balances risks and results with a patient’s preferences and values..

Benefits of Shared Decision Making (SDM) include:

  • Increased patient knowledge
  • Improved patient self-management skills
  • Improved treatment and medication adherence
  • More certainty and less anxiety about treatments
  • Increased follow through on treatment plan
  • Alignment with patient preferences and cultural values
  • Improved patient health outcomes
  • Improved patient satisfaction with care
  • Builds a trusting relationship with one’s doctor
Several SDM tools are available to support this decision-making process. Clinicians and patients work collaboratively within the tool. The patient identifies preferences and values while the clinician guides the conversation. The clinician’s expertise helps to narrow the patient’s personalized options.

Patients can complete part of the tool at home and bring the results to an office visit with their healthcare provider. Providing printed information about their preferences helps to expedite the process.

When you work with the SDM tools, you will find:

  • an introduction
  • short-term and long-term goal setting
  • a treatment survey to identify current approaches to treatment

Trusted Messengers is a program of the Allergy & Asthma Network and partners Sanofi and Self Care Catalysts. Trusted Messengers is a holistic project built on trust to address health inequities, increase access to important health information and screenings for people of color and improve long-term health outcomes, especially for those with respiratory conditions.

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