Protect yourself & others
Wear a mask
Wash your hands
Stay 6 ft apart
COVID Testing sites
Find a list of walk-in and by- appointment COVID testing sites in Cambria County and the surrounding areas.
Find up-to-date information about the COVID vaccines, including vaccine eligibility, providers in Somerset and Cambria County, and more.
What YOu Need to Know about COVID-19
What is a novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can affect animals and humans. Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface (“corona” is Latin for “crown”).
Some coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause upper respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, although some can cause more serious illness.
There are seven coronaviruses that can infect people, four of which are common, which means that our bodies have built up immunity to them and they are less likely to make us seriously ill. The other three are MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus), SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus), and SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19). These three viruses evolve from viruses that initially only infected animals.
A “novel” coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. A novel coronavirus like COVID-19 is more contagious than the viruses that cause influenza and common cold because it is new to humans. Humans have no way to prepare for it, and their immune systems are not ready to fight it. This results in the virus causing more cellular damage and producing more inflammatory cells, thus making it more dangerous to many humans.
How does COVID-19 spread in the body?
Viruses have spike proteins on their surface to allow them to attach and enter our cells. The spike protein on SARS-CoV-2 is used to attach to the ACE2 receptor. This receptor can be found on many cells of our body (alveoli of the lungs, heart, brain, blood vessels). If a cell has the ACE2 receptor the virus can use it’s spike protein to attach and enter the cell. Think of the ACE2 receptor as the lock and the spike protein as the key. If you have the right key, you can enter the structure.
Once inside a few initial host cells, the virus hijacks the cell’s machinery and sets those host cells to work churning out copies of itself. Within hours, thousands of new virus particles begin bursting forth, ready to infect more cells. As the virus multiplies, an infected person may shed copious amounts of it, especially during the first week or so. Symptoms may be absent at this point.
Although SARS-CoV-2 is less deadly than the original SARS virus, which emerged in 2002, it replicates more rapidly. Also unlike SARS, which primarily infects the lungs, SARS-CoV-2 replicates throughout the airway, including in the nose and throat, making it highly contagious – like the common cold.
How does COVID-19 spread between people?
Respiratory droplets and aerosols
Since it is a respiratory virus, you can spread coronavirus through your nose and mouth. Sneezing, coughing, yelling, and even talking (yes, just talking!) could expel respiratory droplets, which can contain the virus if you’re infected.
More importantly, tinier droplets called aerosols can also come out of your mouth. Viruses can hitch a ride on these tiny, invisible droplets, being suspended in the air for hours, floating throughout a room like smoke. In fact, coronavirus can live for up to 3 hours in the air in aerosols, meaning you could breathe in the virus from the air in a room where an infected person breathed/coughed/sneezed up to 3 hours before. This is similar to other contagious respiratory diseases, like flu (which can live in the air for 2-3 hours) and measles (which can live in the air for up to 2 hours).
Contact with an infected person can transfer the virus from them to you. An infected person may touch their nose or mouth, picking up some virus on their hands – the same hands they use to shake yours. Then you touch your nose or face – boom, you’ve infected yourself.
Virus-containing respiratory droplets from someone’s nose or mouth can land on nearby surfaces, such as doorknobs, handrails, and tables, creating contaminated objects (called fomites). The virus can live on surfaces for hours or days, up to 5 days on certain objects. If you touch an infected surface then touch your face, nose, or eyes, you could indirectly infect yourself.
Transmission through respiratory droplets or aerosols is much more common than through contaminated surfaces.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are wide-ranging and vary from case to case. Generally speaking, however, the most common symptoms include:
Less Common Symptoms:
When to seek emergency medical attention:
Many cases of COVID-19 will not require it, but it is recommended patients seek emergency medical attention if they have difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, exhibit confusion, the inability to wake up or remain awake, and/or bluish lips or face.
While severe symptoms most often occur in older patients or those with underlying medical conditions, anyone who exhibits these symptoms should immediately seek emergency attention.
About those asymptomatic cases…
While most cases will exhibit symptoms within two to fourteen days after contraction, those that contract COVID-19 may not exhibit any or relatively mild symptoms. It is suggested you quarantine for at least 10 days after close contact with any confirmed case even if you show no symptoms to prevent the spread of the disease.
There are three important steps to remember in preventing the spread of COVID-19:
Wash your hands often, especially after contact with others that do not live with you. If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
When you do go out in public, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth completely. Masks have been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of transmission of the disease. Wearing a mask protects yourself and those around you. Face masks reduce the chances of infection by more than 80 percent.
Avoid crowds and groups. Stay home when you are able, as increasing the number of people which whom you have contact increases your chances of contraction. When in public, keep a distance of six feet apart from others when possible. Because of the disease’s method of transmission, maintaining a physical separation of six feet helps to keep you and those around you safe.
Contact tracing helps protect you, your family, and your community by:
If someone from the health department calls you,
answer the call to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Learn more about how contact tracing works at the CDC page on Contact Tracing.
Cambria County COVID Statistics
Cambria County COVID statistics have been compiled and graphed by Paul Ricci, a freelance statistician in Johnstown, PA. He holds a Master’s degree in biostatistics from the University of Pittsburgh. For more information about Paul and his insightful statistical work around public health, visit his website.
COVID Questions: By The Numbers
Review the slides from the COVID Questions: By The Numbers event held on January 26, 2021 below.
The sites listed below will provide you with up-to-date, reliable information about COVID-19.
COVID-19 Informational Resources Playlist on YouTube
We put together a playlist of useful and reliable videos that cover a wide variety of topics related to the pandemic. Select the icon in the upper right side of the video below to view the whole playlist.
This American Life: The Other Extinguishers
For years one group of people has been trying to push a giant boulder to the top of a hill, like Sisyphus. But in this case, it looks like they’ve actually succeeded! David Kestenbaum spoke with four scientists who have been working on a coronavirus vaccine, one that was just shown to work. (-28:48)