The outbreak of COVID-19 the illness that causes the novel coronavirus also known as SARS-Cov2 continue to be a global pandemic. This virus has already killed over 1,000 American lives to date. There are many things that we can do to help prevent the spread of this virus, and here are some tips to stay healthy during this time.
How is COVID-19 Transmitted?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is passed through coughing, sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, or touching a surface with the virus on it and then toughing your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands. It is passed just like the cold or flu.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of COVID-19 can range from none at all to severe breathing difficulty. Fever and cough are the most common symptoms, whereas shortness of breath is rare but indicates a more serious form of the illness. There has also been reports of patient's losing their sense of smell and taste during the course of a COVID-19 infection (although it is not a part of the recommended testing criteria). Symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure. The majority of the people infected have mild symptoms and fully recover.
I am at high risk and I do not have symptoms what should I do to reduce my risk?
Individuals over the age of 65, those that are pregnant, or on medications that weaken the immune system (chemotherapy, etc) are at higher risk of infection and complications of infection. If you fall into one of these categories, we recommend that you keep enough supplies at home to reduce unnecessary trips in public. This is especially if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in your area, it is important to stay home as much as possible.
It is highly recommended to practice good hygiene, the same as if you had a cold or the flu.
1) It is important to wash your hands with soap and water for at last 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available that the use of an alcohol based hand sanitizer will suffice.
2) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth at all times.
3) Avoid close contact with individuals that are sick. Close contact is considered to be within six feet of a known exposed individual and avoid kissing and sharing utensils.
4) Stay at home unless you are an essential personnel. Please follow federal, local and state guidelines.
5) Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
6) Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily.
7) Practice social distancing, avoid crowded places or group events.
If you are sick stay home! If you have a medical appointment or need to go to the emergency room, notify ahead of time so the proper precautions are in place for your arrival.
Should you get tested?
This is a questions that I get at least a dozen times a day, should I get tested? You may have heard that COVID-19 testing are more available. Although there are more testing available then a couple of weeks ago, it is still limited and the testing criteria is largely determined by local and state health departments. In addition, in order to get tested you must have an order from a health care provider.
Based on the CDC guidelines and given the limited capacity available, it is recommended that prioritized testing for those at highest risk which includes:
1. Hospitalized patients
2. Healthcare workers
3. Patients in long-term care facilities
4. Patients age 65 and older
5. Patients with underlying health conditions
6. First responders
... and if you have either of the following symptoms:
2. Cough or shortness of breath.
While testing was previously recommended for those who have been in direct contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or those who recently traveled to certain areas, the criteria is becoming less relevant as the outbreaks emerge across the U.S.
It is important that these recommendations will continue to change as we learn more about the virus.
What should I do if I think that I am at risk and want to get checked?
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, it is recommended to self isolate to prevent the spread. If you need testing, call our office to schedule an appointment or use this link: http://provoder.kareo.com/temeria-wilcox or call the St. Mary's County Health Department to discuss self-monitoring with public health supervision.
To protect yourself and others, please avoid coming to a health care facility unless directed to do so. There is only a limited number of health care facilities in the U.S. that are currently equipped to test for COVID-19.
If you do not meet the criteria currently required to be tested by the CDC, NP Family Practice is here to provide a care plan based on your symptoms, stay in close contact throughout your recovery and reevaluate needs for testing if your condition changes.
For more information, check out the www.cdc.gov or www.who.int