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Teens: Your COVID-19 FAQs Answered

The Story on the Coronavirus

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection caused by a type of coronavirus that started in the year 2019.

A respiratory infection is an illness that affects:

  • The nose
  • Throat
  • Airways
  • Lungs

COVID-19 is very contagious, spreading easily from person to person. There are effective vaccines for COVID-19.

COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019. It is a respiratory infection caused by a new type of coronavirus that started in the year 2019.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person. This may happen in different ways:

  • It can travel through the air in respiratory droplets from a sneeze or a cough and can be inhaled into the lungs.
  • It can live on surfaces like phones, doorknobs, or countertops. If you touch something the virus has been on, it can be carried from your hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • It can spread through direct contact, such as through a handshake.

If people have COVID-19, they must be isolated from other people to prevent spread of the virus. The CDC regularly updates guidelines about quarantine and isolation. 

Droplets from a person's cough or sneeze can travel over a distance of several feet. Staying at least 6 feet away from others helps keep you safe.
A pandemic is a disease outbreak that happens all over the world and affects a large number of people.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 might have:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of smell or loss of taste

Some people who get COVID-19 do not have any symptoms.

Primary symptoms of coronavirus disease include fever, cough, body aches, runny nose, shortness of breath, and sore throat. Some people with COVID-19 notice a decrease in their sense of smell or taste.

How Is COVID-19 treated?

Most people have only mild symptoms and can be cared for at home. But some people can become very sick and need to be treated in the hospital. For people who need care in the hospital, the medical team can monitor and treat their lungs to make sure their bodies continue to have enough oxygen. 

In more severe cases, patients have needed more breathing support, such as a breathing tube or ventilator.

How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

Get vaccinated if your doctor recommends it.

To prevent COVID-19, it is important to limit potential contact with the virus.

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after sneezing, coughing, or being in public places. 
  • You can also use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Keep your hands away from your face, eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid close contact with others and try to distance yourself from others by at least 6 feet.
  • If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay away from other people and call your doctor.
  • Wear a face mask as recommended by your doctor. Make sure to wear it properly.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often, such as doorknobs, handles, light switches, phones, countertops, and keyboards.
Wear a face mask if you are sick or if your medical team recommends it. Make sure to wear it properly.

How does social distancing help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

The term social distancing, or “physical distancing,” means staying at least 6 feet away from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The 6 feet of distance lessens your chance of breathing in coronavirus from someone around you. It is also important to avoid meeting in groups and limit the number of people you are around.

The dos and don'ts of social distancing.

Social Distancing to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus

Read about Social Distancing

What can I do to help cope with social distancing and stay connected to friends?

Social distancing doesn’t have to be boring or lonely! There are a lot of things you can continue to do.

  • Take advantage of the opportunity to explore topics and hobbies that are of interest to you. 
  • It’s also important to continue to touch base with friends and classmates by phone or virtually. 
  • It’s common for people to use humor when they are stressed. Memes and sarcasm are a common way for people to cope to make things seem not so bad. 
  • You might try online games with your friends, such as Instagram Bingo or challenge your friends with the Wikipedia Game.
Wikipedia game
Instagram Bingo

It’s also okay to use this time to SLOW DOWN and PAUSE for a moment. This is an overwhelming and stressful time for many people. It can be hard to focus. 

Your hospital can help!

  • If you need support, talk to your medical team.
  • Ask if team members, including child life, social work, psychology, and chaplains, are available through telehealth. 
  • If you have questions about health insurance, looking for a job, or filing for unemployment, contact your social worker.
Ask your medical team about online support groups or telehealth options at your hospital.

Right now, you may be feeling some uncertainty with COVID-19. If you have any questions, talk to your care team.

Coping during COVID-19. It is OK to use this time to slow down and pause for a moment. This is an overwhelming and stressful time for many people.

Tips for Self-Care During Coronavirus

It is important to take care of yourself to help you stay strong physically and emotionally.

  • Be sure to continue to eat healthy, exercise according to your medical team’s recommendations, reduce stress, and get a good night’s sleep every night. This will help your body and immune system stay strong.
  • Try to keep a routine and spend time doing things you enjoy or find relaxing. This can help you feel more normal.
  • To help manage anxiety you might try to listen to music, talk to friends, write about your feelings, play a game, or take deep breaths.
  • You can also learn and practice stress reducing strategies, like mindfulness or grounding activities. One example is focusing on your 5 senses (e.g., focus on 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste).

Remember that we cannot control everything, so it’s important to focus on what we can control, like taking care of ourselves. 

A sticker challenge to help calm stress.

Reviewed: January 2022