Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this document has been updated as of March 19, 2020. For the latest information about COVID-19 including how it spreads, prevention and treatment, and symptoms, visit the CDC’s website.
What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in both animals and people. The 2003 SARS outbreak, also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is a well-known coronavirus. In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new coronavirus outbreak, now called COVID-19, which was first detected in China. While it is still too early to fully understand COVID-19, our number-one priority is to support the health and safety of our team members and patients.
How does COVID-19 spread?
This is an emerging virus, so there are still many unknowns, including how easily or effectively the virus is spreading between people. As with all respiratory viruses, it is advisable to limit close contact (within six feet) with an infected person. Coronaviruses are also spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or by touching an infected surface or object and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes, but it is unknown if COVID-19 spreads in this way. For the most updated information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Share the Facts, Stop the Fear page.
What are the symptoms of the COVID-19?
Symptoms are similar to an upper respiratory infection and may include:
- Shortness of breath
More cases of COVID-19 are expected to be diagnosed, much like the other epidemics that we have experienced over the last 15 years. But it is important to know that 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild or without symptoms. Like the seasonal flu, COVID-19 infection is more severe in patients with chronic underlying health conditions and the elderly.
What if I think I was exposed to the COVID-19?
If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus, it is recommended you avoid public places, including public transportation. Call your primary care provider immediately to ask for guidance prior to making an in-person visit. This will help limit exposure to the general public.
Can I get tested for COVID-19 and, if so, where?
If you are experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath or other upper respiratory symptoms, call your doctor’s office and your provider will determine the best path of care. Due to limited testing supplies, only individuals with COVID-19 symptoms will be tested at this time.
Will my health insurance cover the cost of a COVID-19 test?
Many health insurance companies across the country have stated that they will cover the full cost of any testing for COVID-19. However, it is a good idea to check with your specific insurance company to ask about coverage of the test.
Is there a treatment for COVID-19?
At present, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. If you become infected, you will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. You can help prevent the spread of the virus by following the steps listed on the What to Do if You Are Sick page of the CDC website.
How can I protect myself from the COVID-19?
Until there are more answers, you are advised to follow good prevention practices, including:
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based
hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like your phone or computer
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the
tissue in the trash
- Stay home when you are sick
- While a flu shot does not prevent COVID-19, it’s still good to protect yourself against influenza
and schedule a flu shot.
Will wearing a mask prevent me from getting the virus?
Surgical masks are most effective at controlling spread of the virus from a source or infected person. Surgical masks should not be used by healthy people for “protection” from coronavirus – it is not recommended by the CDC and will deplete the limited stock needed for use by sick individuals.
Is there guidance related to international travel?
Currently, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Iran, Malaysia, and most of Europe.
This situation is evolving, so please visit the CDC Information for Travelers website for the latest guidance.
Are there other things I should do to prepare?
The CDC says that now is a good time to assess individual and family preparedness but advised that preparations do not need to go beyond what is needed for a natural disaster or an infrastructure disruption. Preparedness typically includes making a plan, making a kit, and staying informed. Resources are available from the US Department of Homeland Security, the CDC, and the Red Cross.
Where can I find more information about the COVID-19?
This situation is fluid and evolving quickly. For the latest information, guidance and travel alerts, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 homepage and the World Health Organization website. Understanding the facts around the virus will help reduce stigma and panic.
Need more information? www.nwphysicians.com/coronavirus