Robin Schoenthaler, MD
5 min readNov 30, 2020


Dr. Robin’s Covid-19 Updates

Creating a Covid Kit

Back to Basics as the Numbers Rise

Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash

With the kinds of Covid numbers we are seeing this month, soon all of us are going to know someone who is sick, and it’s going to feel as though the noose is tightening. Those days can feel really dark.

Fact-based knowledge is my light in the darkness.

So let’s review the basics.

Q. How do I catch Covid?

A: The vast majority of the time you catch Covid from respiratory droplets coming directly from the mouth or nose of a person with Covid into your mouth or nose. Some transmission might also come from air-floating aerosols and maybe a bit of illness comes from some recently super-contaminated surface, but the vast majority of cases come from infected people with whom you have unfortunately had close contact.

Q. How long does it take to get sick from Covid?

A: It typically takes 4–6 days to get symptoms after being around somebody with Covid. It can happen in one day or after 14 days (both rare) but on average it’s under a week and 97% of the time you get symptoms by 11 days.

Q. Three friends were under the weather for just a couple of days but another friend was hospitalized for a month! Is that all the same Covid?

A: Yes, Covid has basically three ways of hitting us:

— 80–85% mild, moderate, or no symptoms (home, either mildly to medium ill or wicked super sick)

— 10–15% severe symptoms: “the sickest I’ve ever been in my life,” sometimes at home but frequently in the hospital; often with bad pneumonia or blood clots in brain, legs; heart, kidney or brain issues

— 5% critically ill, often in the ICU, sometimes on a ventilator

Q. What are the most common symptoms?

A. Let’s not forget — many people have no symptoms at all (but are still contagious! and this is a huge problem). Many other people have mild to moderate symptoms, sometimes very mild.

The most common early symptoms are:

loss of smell

body aches




Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom., @robinshome,