Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts and Resources
COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus. The virus is spread when an infected person releases droplets through their nose or mouth while breathing, speaking, coughing, or sneezing. These droplets can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouths.
COVID-19 often causes respiratory symptoms (breathing problems) and can feel like a cold, flu, or pneumonia. It can attack other parts of the body too, in addition to the lungs.
Some people will become infected with COVID-19 and have no symptoms or mild symptoms. These people can still spread the infection to others.
Older adults and people with certain medical issues are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. Some people, including those who have no symptoms or mild symptoms, may still develop “long COVID,” meaning they continue to experience health issues months after their infection.
Mount Sinai is making it easy and safe to get care. You can set up an in-person or video visit with your health care provider easily through MyMountSinai® (MyChart).
Masks are optional, but encouraged, in most areas of our hospitals and health care facilities. Please view our visitor policy for additional information about visiting our facilities.
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Symptoms of COVID-19 may include the following:
- Fever (temperature greater than 100° Fahrenheit)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, or if you are experiencing possible symptoms, it is very important to get tested and to stay away from others. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19.
You can protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 by following these safety practices.
- Get vaccinated, including the most up-to-date shot. This is the absolute best form of protection for you and your family.
- Wear a mask when in public indoor spaces.
- Stay six feet away from others outside of your home.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, especially inside your home.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
- If indoors, open windows and doors if possible to let in fresh air.
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Monitor your health daily. Be alert for new symptoms. Do not go out if you’re feeling unwell.
If you have life-threatening symptoms such as severe shortness of breath, changes in mental status, severe dehydration, or other complications, dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
If you need a test due to milder symptoms, our Mount Sinai Urgent Care locations throughout New York City accept both walk-in and scheduled appointments 365 days a year. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing. It is especially important to wear a face mask on the way to your appointment to help prevent the spread of any respiratory virus you may have.
Take-home antigen tests available at drugstores, also known as “rapid tests,” are another option if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If your test is positive, you should schedule a follow-up virtual or in-person visit with a health care provider, especially if you are at risk for complications.
If you or a loved one has questions about COVID-19 symptoms, testing or treatment, you can text 4-SINAI (474624) from any mobile device to receive answers. For any questions after receiving negative COVID-19 test results, you can call 646-605-5959 for further guidance.
Most individuals who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccine do not need treatment. However, if you are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 based on your age, vaccination status, or other medical conditions, we recommend seeking treatment from your primary health care provider or through our ambulatory care or urgent care network.
Early treatment for those at increased risk for severe illness will reduce your risk for hospitalization or getting very sick from COVID-19. Treatment is not a substitution for vaccination, and we recommend all eligible people get the updated COVID-19 vaccine.
Oral antivirals like Paxlovid™ (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir) and Lagrevio™ (molnupiravir) are available for patients within five days after their symptoms begin. They work by stopping the virus from multiplying in the body. A health care provider can prescribe these medications for you if you test positive or if there is high suspicion that you have COVID-19, based on your symptoms and potential exposure.
Who should get this treatment?
People who should be treated with oral antivirals include those age 50 and older, those who have compromised immune systems, and those with underlying medical conditions who may be at higher risk for hospitalization from COVID-19. A list of high-risk medical conditions can be found here.
Most pharmacies have these medications available by prescription. Your health care provider will need to review your other medications and your kidney function to be sure you can take these medications safely. These oral antivirals are still effective against currently circulating variants of COVID-19.
Some patients experience a recurrence of symptoms and/or a positive test after a negative test, whether they take antiviral drugs or not. This is called “COVID-19 rebound.” The possibility of a rebound should not keep you from seeking treatment if you are at risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
Getting vaccinated—including a dose of the most up-to-date version of the vaccine—is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from COVID-19.
The vaccines currently authorized for use were designed to protect against newer variants of the COVID-19 virus. They are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people 12 years and older, and available under emergency use authorization for anyone older than six months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the updated vaccines for everyone six months and older. The CDC recommends that most people get one dose of the new vaccine, at least two months after their most recent vaccine dose. People who are immunocompromised, and parents of young children, should consult their doctor for recommended dosing. While people who had COVID-19 recently can get the new vaccine within 10 days of their infection, the CDC has stated that people may wait until 90 days after the infection to get the vaccine.
Please check with your health care provider if you are interested in getting the new vaccine. We are working to make the new COVID-19 vaccine available at our practices across the region. If your provider’s practice does not yet have the vaccine, you can also check with your local pharmacy or the New York State, New York City, or New Jersey websites for other locations that offer appointments or walk-in vaccination.
For information about Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Vaxmobile or to partner with it on a community health event, please email Vaxmobile@snch.org.
Patients ages 16 to 18 need parental/guardian consent for vaccination. Patients 15 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
We now know that many people who begin to recover from COVID-19 continue to experience heart issues, shortness of breath, fatigue, or cognitive difficulties—often for weeks or months. This has become known as “long COVID.”
Mount Sinai founded the Center for Post-COVID Care to help these patients. Recovery from COVID-19 is posing a new set of challenges for patients and physicians alike. We are committed to meeting these challenges with a team from a broad range of specialties. If you have had COVID-19, the Center will provide you the best care available, based on the latest understanding of the disease.
For more information, please contact the Center or view its web page.
The Mount Sinai Medical Legal Partnership provides free legal services for our most vulnerable patients, to address and resolve the legal and social issues that often contribute to poor health.
If you have questions about rights to unemployment benefits, visa extensions, public benefits, advance planning, and child custody, or other issues, the partnership can help.
The partnership has arranged for free, confidential legal services for low-income patients during the COVID-19 crisis. Patients can contact their providers to make an appointment to see an attorney.