Asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread of COVID-19


NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Not everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 develops symptoms. For some people, it takes days before they start to feel sick.

No cough, no fever, no muscle aches but Maribel Hernandez has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Physically she is fine, she doesn’t have any chest pain or anything like that.”

Maribel doesn’t want her face shown on camera so her son Alonzo is speaking on her behalf. 

While she’s asymptomatic, which means she has no symptoms, she believes she caught it from a coworker who also didn’t appear to be sick.

“She probably got it from the fact that at the place where she works, there isn’t much way to keep social distancing,” said Hernandez.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health said 40 to 45% of cases can be asymptomatic.

Dillaha said some people are actually pre-symptomatic when they take the test.

“It’s the period of time when they’re infected and they can spread the virus that causes the disease but they don’t have symptoms yet. They go on to get symptoms later.”

Dillaha urges people to wear a mask because in both cases you can still spread the virus.

This is why she said contact tracers are so important. They track anyone who has come into contact with a positive patient.

“Some people never develop symptoms so it’s hard to know when exactly their infectious period was. In that case, we back up two days from their positive test.”

Maribel is in quarantine at home. She wears a mask– even inside– to make sure her family doesn’t get the virus.

“She is encouraging people to take the test and being proactive about it. You don’t have to have symptoms to take the test,” said Hernandez.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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