About 8 in 10 people who get COVID-19, the disease caused by a coronavirus will have only mild illness and the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 will survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number, those who have recovered. In mid-March 2020, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero but now it’s in thousands and is climbing every day.
Recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too because once a person is exposed to the coronavirus, the body starts producing proteins called antibodies to fight the infection and as they start to successfully contain the virus, symptoms usually begin to lessen which makes you start to feel better.
For those who experience COVID-19, recovery can be a slow journey. And even after you’re feeling better, there can be a period of uncertainty.
After days or weeks of isolation, you may be eager to see family again and step foot into the outer world. But how soon is too soon? And how do you know when you’re no longer infectious?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance saying people with COVID-19 can stop isolating themselves when they’ve been fever-free for 72 hours — that’s three days after the fever ends. And to note, that is without the use of fever-reducing medicine. This should accompany an improvement in respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, and should be at least seven days from the onset of initial symptoms.
The CDC further recommends ”testing” which can also inform the decision, which is taken twice in at least 72-hour intervals. After self-isolation, recovered patients who are returning to work and public spaces should still follow the mitigation recommendations for everyone, such as avoiding groups and washing hands. Right now, most people are under stay-at-home orders, so trips outside may be limited.
In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system but unfortunately, this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don’t know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are immune to future infections of the virus.
Although there’s no treatment for COVID-19. Some of the things you can do to speed your healing are similar to how you might take care of the flu or a bad cold.
Continue to Be Conscious of Those Around You
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dry them thoroughly with an air dryer or clean towel. If soap isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Use a household wipe or spray to disinfect doorknobs, light switches, desks, keyboards, sinks, toilets, cell phones, and other objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
- If possible, use a separate bathroom.
- Wears a cloth face covering or mask (that covers the nose and mouth) when surrounded by people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth frequently.
- Each day clean all surfaces that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs, Use household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label instructions.
- Wash laundry thoroughly. If the laundry is soiled, wear disposable gloves and keep the soiled items away from your body while laundering. Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
- Avoid having any unnecessary visitors.
For any additional questions about COVID-19 patient care, mitigating spread of the virus, and recovery protocol, contact your healthcare provider or state or local health department.
Emergency Care for COVID-19 Patients
Our Board-Certified ER Doctors are in close contact with state and local governments working hard to contain COVID-19. If you suspect you may have the virus, seek emergency care immediately.
Press, The Associated. “What Does ‘Recovered from Coronavirus’ Mean? 4 Questions Answered about How Some Survive and What Happens Next.” Syracuse, 12 Apr. 2020, www.syracuse.com/coronavirus/2020/04/what-does-recovered-from-coronavirus-mean-4-questions-answered-about-how-some-survive-and-what-happens-next.html.
“Disposition of Non-Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html.
Aubrey, Allison. “How Long Does It Take To Recover From COVID-19?” NPR, NPR, 13 Apr. 2020, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/13/833412729/how-long-does-it-take-to-recover-from-covid-19-and-how-long-are-you-infectious.
“Clinical Questions about COVID-19: Questions and Answers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html.