So You Think You Have a Cold (or Allergies)?

COVID-19 is so much more than fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

In the early days of 2020, as a novel coronavirus epidemic emerged in China and proceeded to attain pandemic status, public health officials tried to educate the public on the three cardinal symptoms of the new disease: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The simple messaging, combined with a heightened collective anxiety, was quite effective. But here’s the problem: fever, cough, and shortness of breath represent only a fraction of COVID-19’s possible symptoms. Fever and cough are extremely common presenting symptoms among individuals requiring hospital admission due to COVID-19 (as well as shortness of breath, though to a lesser extent}, but early cases, mild cases, and even moderate cases can consist of an array of symptoms.


• chills

• cough

• shortness of breath

• sore throat

• muscle or body aches

• headache

• new loss of taste or smell

• fatigue

• congestion or runny nose

• vomiting

• diarrhea

Most symptomatic cases of COVID begin with a person feeling just the slightest bit ill, as if they have a common, familiar ailment. Nearly everyone who contracts COVID-19 reports being “very careful”. They wear masks, socially distance, avoiding gatherings and never know the source of their exposure.

If you can catch a common cold, you can catch COVID, because these viruses transmit the same way (primarily through respiratory droplets). It is extremely tempting (though irresponsible) to disregard mild symptoms, especially if you’ve generally exercised appropriate COVID-19 mitigation strategies in your daily life. Please don’t risk the health and safety of those around you.

If you start to feel a bit under the weather and suspect that you may have a cold, a gastrointestinal virus, allergies, or even the flu, you need to quarantine and (probably) get tested for COVID.