General Information

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019, or more commonly known as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a coronavirus discovered in 2019.

The virus spreads from person to person mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
Adults 65 years and older and people of any age with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness. For severe symptoms, call your health care provider, nearest hospital, urgent care or, if it’s an emergency, call 911.

Emergency warning signs can include:

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

Vaccination and Boosters

The benefit of vaccination and boosters is that it helps the body prevent severe illness and lessens the likelihood of needing hospitalization. Free vaccines are available for residents of Erie County ages 5 years and older.

For list of local vaccination and booster sites, visit

For latest information and recommendations for vaccinations for children and teenagers:


Community members, vaccinated or unvaccinated, are advised to get tested for COVID-19 if they have been exposed to anyone who has COVID-19 even if they do not develop symptoms or if they have symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, difficulty breathing, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, vomiting or diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell. Testing results can help determine appropriate care and treatment if needed.

For list of local sites offering free testing, visit

Home Testing

Community members using home test kits who have questions or need guidance can call 814-451-6700.

For residents of Erie County to voluntarily report positive results of home testing, use this form.


Ask your primary healthcare provider about treatments.

LECOM Center for Health & Aging at 3910 Schaper Ave., Erie offers Test-to-Treat service.
For those whose results are positive, free treatment options are available at this location.
Call 814-812-9848 for details.

More information about treatments:


What COVID treatments can we get in the U.S.?

The FDA has approved two antiviral drugs for use.
• Veklury (remdesivir) is for adults and some children with COVID-19. This is an IV drug, meaning it is put right into your blood.
• Olumiant (baricitinib) is for certain hospitalized adults with COVID-19.

The FDA has also authorized the use of two antiviral pills that are taken by mouth.
• Paxlovid, made by Pfizer, is approved for high-risk Covid patients ages 12 and older. It is given as three pills taken two times a day for five days.
• Merck makes the second, called molnupiravir. This treatment for high-risk adults ages 18 and up is given as four pills taken twice a day for five days.

Do I qualify for antiviral treatments?

You may be eligible for antiviral drugs if you:
• Are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms.
• Have tested positive for COVID-19.
• Are not in the hospital but have mild to moderate symptoms for 5 days or less.

Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

If we have medicines to treat COVID, why do I need a vaccine?

Antivirals used to treat COVID work very well at keeping people who have mild or moderate COVID symptoms from getting severely ill and going to the hospital.

COVID vaccines, on the other hand, are safe and work very well to prevent you from getting COVID in the first place.

What is Paxlovid?

Paxlovid is an anti-viral drug that lowers the amount of virus in your body. It is given as three pills taken by mouth two times a day for five days. Take Paxlovid as soon as you can after you get a positive test, or within 5 days of your symptoms starting.

Paxlovid is for people who are:
• 12 and older,
• At least 88 pounds, and
• At risk of having to go into the hospital for COVID.

I have heard about something called "covid rebound" with Paxlovid. What is that?

This can occur for anyone who is sick with COVID, even those who did not take Paxlovid.

Some people who get better from COVID get symptoms again about 2 to 8 days later. They may also get a test result that says they have COVID after they got a negative result. Doctors call this a "COVID rebound." We do know that rebound symptoms tend to be milder.

Is COVID rebound the same as having Long COVID?

No. COVID rebound is when you get better from COVID and symptoms return about 2 to 8 days later. Rebound symptoms are usually milder.

Long COVID is when you have new or ongoing problems from COVID that go on for weeks, months, or years after the original infection.

Can Paxlovid cause a bad reaction because of other drugs I get from my doctor?

Yes, they can. Paxlovid can interact with certain other drugs, so it is not the best treatment for everyone. Some drugs, like statins and those that lower cholesterol could be a problem. Certain other drugs prevent you from being able to take Paxlovid at all.

Talk with your doctor for more information about possible drug interactions.

Does Paxlovid work against Omicron?

Yes. Pfizer has shown through clinical trials and follow-up studies that Paxlovid works for Omicron and its variants.

What are monoclonal antibodies?

Monoclonal antibodies are drugs that act like your own antibodies to fight the illness and help keep you from getting very sick or going to the hospital. They act as a distress signal to other cells to come and help destroy the virus. This stops COVID from getting inside our cells and making us sick.

Monoclonal antibodies are for people who:
• Are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms, and
• Have a positive COVID-19 test with symptoms for 7 days or less, or
• Have been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive

You get them through your bloodstream as an IV, as one shot, or as a series of shots. They can provide immediate short-term relief from COVID symptoms and work for 70 - 80% of people.

How can I get monoclonal antibodies?

You should contact your doctor to discuss this. If your doctor agrees that monoclonal antibodies are right for you, they will send you to an infusion center to get treatment.

What can I expect from monoclonal antibody treatment?

After completing a health screening:
1. Staff will start an IV or give you one or more shots to get the antibodies into your system
2. You will stay so they can watch for allergic reactions or other side effects.
3. Once they are sure you are not having any problems, they send you home to isolate.

What do I need to do after getting monoclonal antibodies? Am I free to go back to my life as usual?

While monoclonal antibodies do work quickly to help you feel better, you still have virus in your body and you are still able to pass it to others.

You must still isolate yourself from others until all of these things happen:
1. At least 5 days have passed since your first symptoms of COVID-19
2. You have not had a fever in at least 24 hours, without taking any medicine that reduces fever
3. Your other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

• Be sure to follow what your doctor tells you. Depending on your personal health history, you may need to meet other conditions to leave isolation.
• Also, if you start to feel worse, get medical care right away.

Will monoclonal antibodies make me sick?

No. Monoclonal antibodies do not contain any live virus, so there is no risk of getting COVID from this treatment.

There are some possible side effects, including allergic reactions, minor pain for a short time, bleeding, bruising of the skin, soreness, swelling, and possible infection where they put the needle.

Rarely, serious side effects can happen. Talk to your doctor if you have any side effects that are not expected. Since antibodies are still being studied, it is not possible to know all the side effects. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.

Can I get a COVID shot if I have had antibody treatment?

If you were given antibodies, you should still get a shot to keep from getting very sick in the future.

You can get a COVID shot as soon as you recover and are no longer able to spread the virus. Talk to your doctor about how long to wait.

Can I be treated with antibodies if I already got the COVID shot?

Yes. No matter your vaccination status, you can get treatment if:
• You get COVID, and
• You are eligible to get antibodies.

My doctor will not allow me to get antibody treatments. Why would they do that?

Your doctor is the best person to decide which treatments are right for you. There can be many reasons for them to decide this.

You may not meet all eligibility criteria, or you may have an underlying health condition that disqualifies you.

There are other options, including antivirals that you can take.

There are many options for treating COVID. How do I know which is best?

The CDC recommends Paxlovid and Remdesivir as the first options. Lagevrio and antibodies are the next best treatments. You should discuss your options with your doctor.

Treatment can depend on:
• How sick you are
• Your age
• Other drugs you take
• Whether you are pregnant
• How seriously ill you are

Your doctor needs to consider all of these before suggesting a treatment.


Preventing the spread of COVID-19

Guidance on Quarantine and Isolation

For questions or additional guidance, call 814-451-6700.


The information below can also be downloaded as PDFs:


What to do if you have been exposed to COVID-19


If you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 or have been told by a healthcare provider or public health authority that you were exposed, here are the steps you should take, regardless of your vaccination status or if you have had a previous infection.


After being exposed you must wear a mask for 10 full days after your last exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Take Precautions

Wear a high-quality mask or N95 any time you are around others inside your home or indoors in public.

*Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask

Watch for Symptoms

If you develop symptoms

  • Isolate immediately
  • Get tested
  • Stay home until you know the result (if your test is positive follow the instructions for isolation)

Get tested at least 5 full days after your last exposure. Test even if you don’t have symptoms.

  • If you test negative continue taking precautions through Day 10 – continue wearing a high-quality mask when around others at home and indoor public spaces. You can still develop COVID-19 up to 10 days after you have been exposed.
  • If you test positive, isolate immediately


What to do if you test positive for COVID-19


Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19You should also isolate if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. If your results are positive, follow the full isolation recommendations below. If your results are negative, you can end your isolation.

If you had no symptoms:

  • Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive test result)
  • Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested
  • If you develop symptoms within 10 days of when you were tested, the clock restarts at day 0 on the day of symptom onset

If you had symptoms:

  • Day 0 of isolation is the day of symptom onset, regardless of when you tested positive
  • Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started

Stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home. You are likely most infectious during these first 5 days.

  • Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around others at home and in public.
  • Do not go places where you are unable to wear a mask, including travel and public transportation settings.
  • Stay home and separate from others as much as possible. Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.


End isolation based on how serious your COVID-19 symptoms were.

  • If you had no symptoms: You may end isolation after day 5.
  • If you had symptoms: You may end isolation after day 5 if:
    • You are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication)
    • Your symptoms are improving

If you still have fever or your other symptoms have not improved, continue to isolate until they improve.

If you had moderate illness (if you experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing), or severe illness (you were hospitalized) due to COVID-19-, or you have a weakened immune system, you need to isolate through day 10.

If you had severe illness or have a weakened immune system, consult your doctor before ending isolation. Ending isolation without a viral test may not be an option for you.

If you are unsure if your symptoms are moderate or severe or if you have a weakened immune system, talk to a healthcare provider for further guidance.

After you have ended isolation, when you are feeling better (no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and symptoms improving),

  • Wear your mask through day 10.


  • If you have access to antigen tests, you should consider using them. With two sequential negative tests 48 hours apart, you may remove your mask sooner than day 10.

Note: If your COVID symptoms worsen after ending isolation, restart your isolation at day 0.

Guidance on Masks

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The use of masks help slow the spread of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly. This includes:
    • Cloth Masks
    • Surgical Masks
    • High Filtration Masks
  • Any mask is better than no mask.
  • Wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
  • Choose a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.

Here is more information from the CDC:


Fact Sheets and Information Resources



What is Long Covid?

Most people who get COVID fully recover in a few days, or in weeks for more severe cases. However, some people can have health problems that go on for weeks, months, or years.

Long COVID is when:
• People have health problems that go on for more than four weeks after they were infected.
• Symptoms go away and then return later.
• New symptoms appear that they did not have before.

You may also hear it called other names, including:
• Long-haul COVID
• Post-acute COVID-19
• Post-acute sequelae of SARS CoV-2 infection (PASC)
• Long-term effects of COVID, and
• Chronic COVID

Can the COVID shot cause Long COVID?

No. The COVID virus causes long COVID; not the COVID shot. Long COVID occurs when people, who have been sick with COVID, have long-term symptoms. The shot does not contain any live virus so your body will not have the same reaction as it would if you were sick with COVID.

Do you have to get COVID to have Long COVID?

Yes. Long COVID is found more often in people who had severe COVID symptoms. However, anyone who had COVID can have Long COVID. This is true for people who had mild illness or no symptoms at all from COVID.

Is there a test for Long COVID?

There is no test just for Long COVID and people may have many symptoms that could come from other health problems. Your doctor can decide if you might have Long COVID based on your health history and whether you had a past COVID infection.

Is there anything I can do to help my doctor figure out all these symptoms I am having?

Yes. The CDC has a list of tips to help you prepare for a doctor visit to talk about Long COVID conditions. See

Why should I get the shot if I can still get COVID and Long COVID?

We know that some people who got the shot still get sick, but the data shows that those who do not get the shot are at much greater risk of severe illness. Also, having had COVID makes you more likely to have Long COVID.

What health conditions can be part of Long COVID?

Some people get new illnesses after having COVID, such as diabetes, heart problems, or nerve conditions. Those who were very ill may get them more than others. Some people see health issues that affect many organs, like the heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, and brain. Others may see autoimmune issues they did not have before.

Are some people more likely to develop Long COVID?

Yes, some people may be more at risk for Long COVID.

Those who may be more at risk include:
• People who have had worse cases of COVID, especially if they were in the hospital.
• People who had other health problems before getting COVID.
• People who did not get a COVID shot.
• People who have multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after COVID.
• Some people are at higher risk because of where they live or work, or because they cannot get health care.

How can I keep from getting Long COVID?

The best way to not get Long COVID is to not get COVID in the first place.

If you are able, stay up to date with your shots and boosters. This will help keep you and others from getting sick and protect against severe illness.

Can I still get Long COVID even though I am fully vaccinated and boosted?

Yes, but it is much less likely. We know that the shots do not fully keep everyone from getting COVID, but we also know that getting a shot keeps you from getting very sick if you are infected. People who have gotten the shot are much less likely to have long-term health problems.

Can I spread Long COVID to others?

No, you cannot give Long COVID to others.

I cannot work due to symptoms of Long COVID and have no paycheck. What can I do?

Long COVID can be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Simply having Long COVID is not a guarantee you will qualify for disability. A doctor must decide if you qualify.

To learn more about Long COVID as a disability, see

My doctor said I have Long COVID and it is bad enough that it qualifies as a disability. What does this mean for me?

It means you have the same protections from discrimination as any other person with a disability under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557.

You can visit to find more information about your rights under the ADA.

Can my child have Long COVID?

Yes. Long COVID increases children's risk for several serious heart and lung conditions that are normally quite rare in children. Children who get COVID are twice as likely to get these serious conditions as those who do not get COVID.

We do not yet know how long children will have these conditions or if they will have them for life.

I keep hearing about people getting COVID and then having something called "brain fog." What is that?

Brain fog refers to trouble with memory, attention, and slower thinking. Experts are trying to learn more about how COVID affects the brain and people's mental health.

I am worried that my child has Long Covid. How can I tell?

Watch your child in the weeks and months after being sick with COVID.
Look for signs your child may be:
• Struggling to feel "normal"
• Being tired a lot
• Having trouble with focus, or
• Having mood swings that are not normal for them

I think my child may have Long COVID. Should I take them to a doctor?

Yes. If you or your child have noticed they're not feeling right in the weeks since having COVID, take them to a doctor.