Coronavirus and COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Sterling Urgent Care created this FAQ for the benefit of our employer partners. We are sharing this information on coronavirus and COVID-19 for the communities that we serve.
The information we have compiled is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control as well as coronavirus guidance from Idaho, Utah and Wyoming health officials. State-specific guidance can be found on the following pages:
You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming on our Vaccination FAQ page.
Answers to Common COVID-19 Questions
Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fully approved the following vaccines:
- Pfizer/BioNTech, a 2-shot vaccine and 5-month booster approved for all individuals over the age of 16
- Moderna, a 2-shot vaccine and 5-month booster approved for all individuals over the age of 18
The FDA has given Emergency Use Authorization to the following vaccines:
- Pfizer/BioNTech, a 2-shot vaccine at a lower dose authorized for all individuals ages 12 to 15
- Pfizer/BioNTech, a 2-shot vaccine at a special dose authorized for all children ages 6 to 11
- Pfizer/BioNTech, a 2-shot vaccine at a special dose for for all 5-year-old children
- Moderna, a 2-shot vaccine at a special dose for all children ages 6 months to 5 years
- Pfizer/BioNTech, a 3-shot vaccine at a special dose for all children ages 6 months to 4 years
- Novavax, a 2-shot non-MRNA vaccine for all individuals over the age of 18
The FDA has also given Emergency Use Authorization to the following boosters:
- Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent booster, authoirized as a single dose for all people 12 and older
- Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent booster, authorized as a single dose for kids ages 5-11
- Moderna bivalent booster, authorized as a single dose for all people 18 and older
- Moderna bivalent booser, authorized as a single dose for kids ages 6-11
Bivalent boosters contain simulated spike proteins for both the original SARS-COV-2 virus and an Omicron variant, offering a wider spectrum of protection against infection and severe disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends boosters for these vaccines for some age groups. Please visit our Coronavirus Vaccine FAQ for details on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.
Vaccines from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, sold as Johnson & Johnson, are no longer available in the United States.
What Are Delta, Omicron and Variants of Concern?
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, undergoes mutations when it infects people. Almost all of these mutations are benign, but occasionally the virus can mutate into a form that makes it easier to spread or that changes its symptoms. When the virus shows a large number of mutations that concern researchers, it can be labeled a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is coordinating international response to the pandemic.
Both the Delta variant, first identified in India in early 2021, and the Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa in late 2021, have been labeled Variants of Concern because they have a large number of mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to enter human cells. These mutations suggest that the virus spreads more efficiently, making it easier to catch. The Omicron variant has mutations that may allow it to evade antibodies from vaccines or a past COVID-19 infection.
Neither variant is believed to cause more significant illness, but both are much more transmissable than earlier forms of SARS-CoV-2. People at high risk of severe complications and those who are unvaccinated, regardless of a past COVID-19 infection, are advised to get vaccinations or boosters as soon as possible, to avoid indoor gatherings and crowded outdoor spaces and to wear a protective mask when they are around people from outside their immediate households.
How can I help protect myself and others?
Get vaccinated. The best protection available against COVID-19 is vaccination. Vaccinated people may still become infected and can spread the virus to others if they become infected, but the chance of infection, hospitalization and death all decline significantly for vaccinated people.
Limit activities that can lead to exposure. You can take steps to slow the spread:
- Maintain social distance from others (about 6 feet).
- Wear a face covering. Masks prevent you from spreading the virus and help to control transmission in your community. They are not meant to prevent infection, but certain masks, such as N95 and KN95 masks, may provide some protection in low- to moderate-risk settings. Disposable surgical masks provide a lower level of protection. Cloth masks, neck gaiters and homemade masks should be avoided.
- Avoid crowds and indoor spaces. Whether you are vaccinated or not, you should avoid crowded indoor and outdoor spaces where you will be aroound people for extended periods of time. It is best to avoid being indoors with people from otuside your home, or to allow people to enter your home. Wear a mask if you must be indoors with others.
- Wash hands or use hand sanitzer. Wash your hands after touching door knobs, ATM screens, gas pumps and other surfaces frequently touched by others. Always wash your hands when you get home.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces. Use a disinfectant proven to kill coronavirus, such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray, on door handles, light swithces, faucets and countertop around your home. Disinfect at least once a day if there is high transmission in your area.
- Evaluate risks and try to minimize them. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads from person to person through exhaled breath. There is also some evidence that it can travel short distances through the air. You are most likely to catch COVID-19 if you are unvaccinated and in close contact with an infected person. That person does not have to be symptomatic to infect you. The risk of infection declines in outdoor settings, at greater distances from others, and when high-filtration masks, such as N95 or KN95 masks, are properly worn.
Will a mask protect me from coronavirus?
The United States Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends using nonsurgical N95 masks for the highest level of protection from the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. These masks are recommended for those at high risk of severe complications from COVID-19, those who work in public-facing jobs and those who care for unvaccinated or immunocompromised individuals.
N95 respirator masks are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NIOSH offers an online list of approved N95 respirator masks that have been tested to meet their safety standards.
If N95 masks are unavailable, KN95 resppirator masks may be used, but the CDC warns that about 60% of the KN95 masks they tested in 2020 and 2021 did not meet filtration standards. Buyers should excercise caution when purchasing KN95 masks made in China, and when buying masks from unfamiliar online retailers or third-party companies on well-known retail sites. Counterfeit masks from major U.S. suppliers, including 3M N95 masks, have been reported to the CDC.
Proper fit is essential. Review the CDC/NIOSH guide for proper respirator fit and removal.
People may also choose to wear procedure masks, also known as surgical masks, that are well-fitting, have a nose wire or bar for a custom fit, and do not have side gaps. The fit of a disposable prodcedure mask can be improved by wearing a cloth mask, fitter or brace over the procedural mask.
Procedure masks do not provide the same level of protection as N95 and K95 masks, but they may be easier to wear than a respirator for extended periods of time.
What is coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Most people with COVID-19 experience the following symptoms:
- Sore Throat
- Runny Nose
Loss of taste and smell have been reported with COVID-19, but there is some data suggesting that these symptoms are less common for reinfection, breakthrough infection and the Omicron variant. If you experience the common COVID-19 symptoms listed above, you should get tested even if you do not lose your sense of taste and smell.
Some people infected with the Delta variant reported nausea and diarrhea as their first or primary symptoms. These symptoms may also appear with other SARS-CoV-2 infections.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The understanding of how COVID-19 spreads continues to evolve as more data become available to researchers. As of May 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognizes three primary transmission methods for COVID-19:
Someone coughs or sneezes, and the droplets land in your eyes, nose or throat. The closer you are to the person coughing or sneezing, the greater the risk of infection.
You breathe contaminated air. COVID-19 is an airborne virus. Tiny particles can hover and concentrate indoors in poorly ventilated areas. You can be infected anywhere in an indoor setting where virus particles are present, but the greatest risk of infection exists within 6 feet of an infected person and with more than 15 minutes of exposure. Note that this does not need to be continuous, close exposure. Coming in contact with an infected person several times over the course of a day can add up to the 15 minutes needed to increase infection risk.
You touch contaminated surfaces and then touch your face. Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer for 20 seconds greatly reduces this risk.
Can I Get COVID-19 by Touching Surfaces or Objects?
Researchers cannot rule out the possibility that COVID-19 spreads from contact with contaminated objects, though the primary method of transmission is contact with infected droplets exhaled by infected individuals.
- Never share utensils, food, food containers or personal-care items with people who may be infected or people from outside your household.
- Always use hand sanitizer or wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds after handling items from outside your home.
- Always wash hands before handling masks and immediately after removing them.
- Clean high-contact surfaces frequently, such as doorknobs, refrigerators, cabinet pulls and faucets.
- Remove shoes when you enter your home and keep them away from children and pets.
Can I Get COVID-19 from Infected Animals, or Infect Animals with the Virus?
- The risk of COVID-19 spreading from animals to people and from people to animals is considered to be low; however, there have been cases of mammals, including pet dogs and cats, catching COVID-19 from their owners. People with COVID-19 should isolate from animals in their homes. People with COVID-19 who work with animals should stay home from work for a period of 10 days after symptoms appear.
- Current evidence suggests a unique vulnerability for mink. Three have been documented cases of transmission between humans and mink in Michigan, Utah, Denmark and The Netherlands. Those involved in mink farming and communities near mink farms must take precautions to limit transmission between mink and humans. The CDC has developed guidance to help protect mink and to limit outbreaks:Prevent Introduction of SARS-CoV-2 on Mink Farms