Coronavirus cases have been spreading in the United States since early 2020 and cases have been on the rise since the fall months. Becoming informed and taking proper precautions is imperative in beating this disease.
What is COVID-19? COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has not been identified before. It is not the same as other coronaviruses that cause the common cold, for example.
Who is at risk? While everyone is at risk for catching and spreading the COVID-19 disease, those who are aged 65 and older, pregnant, or who have underlying health concerns are at higher risk.
How is it spread? The virus that causes the disease we now call COVID-19 is most commonly spread between people who are in close contact with one another, approximately 6 feet or less. It spreads through respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs, sneezes, talks, sings, or breathes.
These droplets can then be inhaled through the nose and mouth and make their way into your airways and lungs, causing an infection. Respiratory droplets can also land on objects and surfaces and then be transferred when a person touches that object or surface and then touches their face, nose or mouth. The main way believed to spread the virus is through human contact with an infected individual and not contaminated surfaces.
What are the signs or symptoms of COVID-19? Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to that of the seasonal flu with some exceptions and may range from mild to severe illness. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. The most common symptoms are:
- Sore throat
- Muscle/body aches
- Congestion/runny nose
If you experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of smell or taste you may have contracted COVID-19.
Is it possible to test positive for COVID-19 and the flu at the same time? Yes. Because signs and symptoms are similar, testing for the seasonal flu and COVID-19 may display similar readings. Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is an important way to protect yourself from illness and prevent a variable when getting tested for COVID-19.
When should I get emergency care from COVID-19 symptoms? If you or anyone in your family has contracted COVID-19, it’s advised to be alert to any change in illness or symptoms. If breathing becomes more difficult, the person shows confusion, or a blue-ish tint to their lips or face, call 911 IMMEDIATELY.
When you call emergency services, let them know that the patient has tested positive for COVID-19.
How can I protect myself and my family? The best way to protect you and your family are to:
- Wear masks/facial coverings
- Avoid crowds
- Social distance whenever possible
- Wash hands with soap frequently
Is it safe to get medical care? It’s important to keep your regularly scheduled appointments and screenings to optimize your health. However, if you are feeling unwell, it’s advised that you stay at home. Contact your clinic office to let them know you are unwell and to reschedule appointments and screenings for another time.
It is also possible that your clinic office may contact you to reschedule appointments and screenings if they have had an influx of more serious health concerns including COVID-19 cases.
How often should I clean? It’s advised that you wash your hands often throughout the day and after sneezing, coughing, going to the bathroom and preparing and eating food. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily including refrigerators, tech devices, door handles and knobs, counters and other highly uses services.
What should I use for products? Regular EPA-approved household cleaners are sufficient. It’s important to note that cleaning and disinfecting are different.
- Cleaning: using soap and water, removes dirt, germs and impurities from surfaces.
- Disinfecting: kills germs that are on surfaces.
For the best protection, clean and then disinfect surfaces.
If You or Someone You Know Gets Sick
What do I do if myself or someone in my family gets sick? If you or a family member gets sick, it’s highly advised that you stay at home whether you believe you’ve contracted COVID-19 or something different such as the seasonal flu.
Keeping washing hands and disinfecting surfaces. Monitor the individual’s symptoms and keep them isolated if possible.
What medical supplies should I have on hand? It’s best to have at least 14 days of prescription medications on hand at all times, if possible. It’s also helpful to have:
- A thermometer
- Pain/fever reducer
- Cough suppressants
- Soap/hand sanitizer
What do I do if I come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19? It’s imperative that you stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days. Stay alert for any symptoms that may arise. If you become ill, do NOT go to a clinic. This may increase the spread. If you develop serious symptoms as stated above, call 911 immediately.
If you have any further questions about COVID-19, please call your primary health care provider’s office or look to the CDC website for guidance at www.cdc.gov.
We all must do our part to limit the spread of this disease and keep ourselves and our communities safe.