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 eriecountypa.gov/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine.
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 eriecountypa.gov/covid-19/covid-19-testing-information.
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:
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.
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
- Shortness of breath
- Other COVID-19 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-19. You 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
Graphics from Publichealthcollaborative.org
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:
- Latest Updates on Mask Guidance
- Different Types of Masks
- Who Should Wear a Mask
- Your Guide to Masks
- When to Wear
- How to Choose
- How to Wear
- How to Clean Reusable Masks
Fact Sheets and Information Resources
- Public Health Terminology – COVID-19
- Rumor Control from FEMA – COVID-19
- Communication Card for Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- American Sign Language (ASL) video series on COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Translated and Non-English COVID-19 Resources