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COVID-19 Symptoms, Testing & Treatments

Updated 3/17/22

What are COVID-19 symptoms?

Symptoms usually appear gradually 2 to 14 days after exposure. Some people have had only mild symptoms while others have become severely ill. The CDC's list of symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of smell and taste, and congestion or runny nose. Some patients may have digestive issues such as nausea or diarrhea. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; and pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone. This list is not all possible symptoms. If you have these or other symptoms that are severe or concern you, you should get medical attention immediately.

What should I do if I think I'm sick with COVID-19?

If you have mild symptoms, there may be no need to see a doctor. If you are feeling sick and think you might have COVID-19, contact your primary care doctor by phone or email first before going in. Your doctor’s office will decide the next steps for your care. If you are elderly, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant, you may be at higher risk of serious illness and should contact your doctor early if you are sick. Call 911 if you are having a medical emergency. This information was obtained from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH).

In addition, if you are mildly sick, the CDC and LACDPH have issued guidelines on what to do to help prevent the spread to others. Visit the CDC website for more information. The LACDPH has provided downloadable PDFs with information about staying home and home isolation. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen.

If you are coming to Valley Presbyterian Hospital's Emergency Department or another entrance, and you have a fever, cough or problems breathing, please call ahead beforehand or let our care team know immediately upon arrival so that we can safely provide appropriate care. Please be advised that Valley Presbyterian Hospital has revised its visitor policy. More information is on our COVID-19 portal page.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

The City of Los Angeles is providing free COVID-19 testing to all Los Angeles County residents, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms. Priority is given to people with symptoms. For more information visit the City of Los Angeles COVID-19 Testing page.

Are there treatment options available?

Most people with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without needing special treatment. Treatments are available depending on the severity of the case, medical condition and medical history. On December 22 and 23, 2021, the FDA issued two Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for new oral anti-viral pills for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Visit the FDA website for a list of these and other treatments available. Summaries for some of these are below.

Antiviral Treatments

On December 22, 2021 the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Paxlovid, an oral antiviral drug made by Pfizer for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in certain adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 88 lbs) who are at high risk for severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death. It is available by prescription only. Paxlovid is co-packaged with nirmatrelvir with ritonavir and must be co-administered together.

According to the FDA, in clinical trials, Paxlovid significantly reduced the proportion of people with COVID-19 related hospitalization or death from any cause by 88% compared to placebo among patients treated within five days of symptom onset and who did not receive the therapeutic monoclonal antibody treatment (see below).

Click here for the Paxlovid Fact Sheet (revised February 23, 2022)

On December 23, 2021 the FDA also issued an EUA for Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral drug made by Merck for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in certain adults who are at high-risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and for whom alternative treatment options authorized by the FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate. It is available by prescription only for adults 18 years of age and older and should be provided as soon as possible after a COVID-19 diagnosis and within five days of the onset of symptoms. In the clinical trials, it reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 30%.

Click here for the Molnupiravir Fact Sheet (revised February 2022)

Monoclonal Antibody Treatments

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for the outpatient monoclonal antibody treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection who are at a high risk for progressing to severe disease and/or hospitalization.

Visit the NIH website for more information about monoclonal antibody treatments.

Visit the NIH website for a table comparison on monoclonal antibody treatments.

Clinical Trial of Repurposed Drugs

In addition, the NIH supports testing the effectiveness of existing drugs – repurposing drugs approved for other conditions - as potential at-home treatments to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms associated with mild to moderate COVID-19. A large ACTIV-6 clinical trial is underway to study Ivermectin, Fluvoxamine and Fluticasone.

Visit the NIH website for more information about repurposed drugs.

Click here for more information about the ACTIV-6 clinical trial.

Where can I get up-to-date information?

The information on this page has been obtained from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIAID), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. You may check back here as we periodically update this information.

Our Resources page also has links to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, City of Los Angeles, and World Health Organization for up-to-date information locally, nationally and worldwide.

The information on this page is provided for general, informational purposes and not personalized medical advice. Please contact your health care provider for medical advice specific to your situation. If you are having a medical emergency please call 911.

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