Before the pandemic, Ms. Locke planned to fly to Seattle from Minnesota with her husband and children, but as the coronavirus spread across the United States, she decided that she would rent an R.V. and drive there. She soon realized that the cost of the R.V. would be prohibitive, and felt that some states between Minnesota and Washington weren’t taking the virus seriously enough. In the end, both sisters decided to stay home.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 24, 2020
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, though some people don’t show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
“Weighing all these contingencies made me wonder what I would be bringing to my parents even if I traveled as responsibly as possible,” the older Ms. Locke said. “There have been a lot of texts between us, and we both got so worked up and frustrated.”
Ms. Locke’s sister said that she didn’t take the prospect of traveling lightly and has been following guidance to not travel during the pandemic. Nonetheless, she felt that it was important that she see her aging parents sooner rather than later.
“At the time, I felt like ‘if we don’t go see our parents now, then when will we?’” the younger Ms. Locke said. “That’s been the gutting thing: Not knowing the answer to that. It feels like time is being stolen from us.”
Lindsay Chambers, a writer and editor who lives in Nashville, said that she has been surprised by the ways people are justifying going on vacation this year, including saying that they can’t pass up cheap flights and those who would not reschedule bachelor and bachelorette parties. Ms. Chambers said she has barely left her home since February, but she has been following local news and seen images of people gathering at bars and popular tourist spots in downtown Nashville. These tourists, she said, are not being considerate of others. She was stunned to learn that her own friends were going on a beach trip this summer.
“I had to stop myself from shouting at friends who told us they’d be ‘quarantining at the beach,’” she said. “Traveling to another state and staying in a rented condo in the middle of a raging pandemic is not how quarantine works. At all.”
Ms. Chambers, 41, also described being confounded and upset by how some people manage to make her feel, like she’s overreacting by following the recommendations from doctors on health and safety. Other people have also said they experienced this when they stay home while their friends and family interpret the rules more loosely.