More Covid-19 FAQs

  1. Symptoms: allergies v. Covid-19

Q: Each Spring, I suffer from hay fever and allergies.  How do I know that my sneezing and stuffiness are not symptoms of Covid-19?

 A:  The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology points out that allergies generally occur when an immune system overreacts to something that is typically harmless in others.  Pollen, grass and ragweed are typical triggers each Spring.  One main difference between these conditions is that Covid-19 can cause a fever – allergies don’t.  Another difference is that allergies can come with some level of itchiness – Covid-19 does not.  Sneezing can occur with Covid-19 but is usually doesn’t last long.  Sneezing due to allergies is usually constant and long term.  Allergy sufferers usually are aware of their symptoms from previous episodes.  If anyone has concerns or questions, they should call their physician.

 27. Isolation vs. Quarantine

Q: Is a lockdown and a quarantine the same thing?

A:Many people use these terms interchangeably. But there is a difference.  Isolation is when someone is tested positive and known to be infected with Covid-19 – with or without symptoms – is kept away from others who have not tested positive for the disease. The purpose is to prevent others from being infected.

Quarantine is when someone who has been in contact with an infected person is kept away from others for a period of time.  The purpose is to determine if the quarantined person has actually been infected.  If so, separation from others prevents new infections from occurring.  If not, they can return to normal activities.

A Connecticut state law exists to make either enforceable.  “In the event or a statewide or regional health emergency, the Governor may authorize the public health commissioner to quarantine or isolate individuals reasonably suspected as being infected or exposed to a communicable disease.”  “Anyone who violates the provisions of a quarantine order… shall be fined no more than $1,000 and/or imprisoned for no more than one year.”  One can expect that strict enforcement would only take place once Covid-19 has been nearly eliminated and a person flagrantly violates an order in a way that could cause the pandemic to resurge.


  1. Children and Covid-19

Q: What is this I am hearing about children can be affected by Covid-19?

A: In January 1961, a syndrome (defined as a group of pathological conditions) was identified by a physician in Tokyo, Japan.  The patient was a four-year old child, and the physician was Tomisaku Kawasaki (that’s his name, not his location).  He later published a report on 50 similar conditions.  As a result, this condition is named the “Kawasaki syndrome.”  This is a rare condition in children from ages 5 to 18.  Only about 3,000 cases are diagnosed in the US each year.   80% of the cases are under the age of 5.  It affects boys more than girls, and Asians have an increased incidence.  It does not appear to be contagious.  There is no single cause identified for this syndrome.  It is often correlated with a diagnosis of other diseases such as scarlet fever, measles, and Rocky Mountain fever.  Concern is now being expressed that the COVID-19 may be another disease correlated with the Kasasaki syndrome.  The CDC is investigating this possible link.

The syndrome’s presentation is inflammation of blood vessels and multiple organs and bodily systems.  It can include any, but not necessarily all of the following: a prolonged fever, extremely red eyes (conjunctivitis), a rash on the body, red and dried cracked lips, swollen red palms of the hands and soles of the feet, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.  The most threatening delayed condition is an inflammation of the blood vessels that can sometimes lead to an aneurism (rupture) of the aorta resulting in death.  Consultation with a physician is necessary for an accurate diagnosis, and treatment usually must be undertaken in a hospital but is quite successful if diagnosed early.

In New York, it was recently reported that 73 Covid-19 infected children have been diagnosed with “symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease.”  Most were toddlers and elementary-age children.  Recent deaths in this group include a 5-year-old boy, a 7-year-old and a teenager.  The Connecticut Children’s Hospital on Tuesday of this week has reported they are treating two children with the Kawasaki syndrome.


  1. CDC “Extended Guidelines”

Q:  Wasn’t the CDC preparing specific guidelines to help churches open up to more normal activities?  What happened?

A:  Earlier, the CDC submitted a 17-page guideline to the White House prior to releasing them publicly.  Later reports showed that these guidelines were approved by the CDC for release.  Six types of organizations are covered:

  • Child care programs,
  • Schools and day camps,
  • Communities of faith,
  • Employers with vulnerable workers,
  • Restaurants and bars, and
  • Mass transit administrators

It was publicly announced on May 7 that the White House had “shelved” this document.  It was reported that federal officials felt many of the recommendations were “too restrictive.”  Most of the concern apparently focused on businesses opening up.

This embargoed document defines several steps for churches to follow as state governments move into each of the 3 stages of loosening restrictions.  Connecticut is planning to begin Phase 1 as early as May 20.  The Interim Guidelines relevant to our congregation includes what we are already doing:

  • Coordinate with state and local mitigation strategies, and
  • Conduct meetings and services virtually, and
  • Provide spiritual and emotional care virtually,

In a word, we are already in compliance with these CDC guidelines, even if they were not formally approved.  And this compliance will continue into the near future.  The document offers excellent suggestions for church functions and activity as we move toward meeting as a group  These will be reviewed by our leadership and will guide us in steps to  be announced in the future.


  1. Slowing the spread of the disease

   Q: How do we slow the infection of new Covid-19 patients?

A: The long-standing public health approach to eliminating a disease is wide-spread testing to find those who are infected.  When a person tests positive, a public health investigator conducts an interview to identify past contacts with others.  The infected patient is then ordered to remain in isolation to prevent further contacts.  Evaluating the duration and situation surrounding each encounter reported, the investigator reaches out to these people and explains they may have been infected.  Each contact is then tested and if positive, they are ordered into isolation.  If any tested negative, they can expect they might be ordered into quarantine.   Of course, rapid turn-around for test results is essential for this process to work.  Waiting several days or a week for results to come back would leave an impossibly long list of contacts to be reached, many of whom may already be showing symptoms.

Public health investigators do not currently exist in the numbers required to participate in this approach for COVID-19.  Tens of thousands will be needed!  Funding has been requested and opportunities soon will exist for hiring lay people to do this.  Currently, some states doing case tracking are focusing on telephone calls to contact these people.  John Hopkins University has developed a training program describing and offering instruction for this role.  This free course is available for anyone who wants to learn more: