With the global pandemic coronavirus, known as COVID-19, dominating news cycles and disrupting normal life, many are understandably worried about what the future may hold. There are still many unknowns about the novel (new) coronavirus, including when it is likely to peak in America; experts are saying it could be months before numbers of new cases begin to drop.
The unexpected emergence of COVID-19 has understandably led to anxiety, fear and uncertainty. While there is still much to be learned about the virus, ConvenientMD is committed to keeping our patients safe and informed with the latest information about the spread of COVID-19.
Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19, including how to say healthy and what to do if you think you or a family member may be infected.
What is COVID-19, and How Did it Start?
COVID-19 was first identified in December of last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It is a new form of coronavirus, which is a class of viruses associated with animal-human contact. Officially coined ‘SARS-CoV 2,’ the virus has thus far infected over 215,000 individuals worldwide.
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
One of the tricky aspects of identifying coronavirus infection without testing for the virus is that COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those associated with seasonal flu and cold viruses. Hallmark symptoms of COVID-19 include the following, and may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of Breath
Emergency signs for COVID-19 include the following, and if developed you should seek medical attention immediately:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Approximately 20% of those infected with the novel coronavirus will require some form of hospitalization. At this point in time, COVID-19 appears to affect individuals over the age of 60 more severely than younger patients, the majority of whom (though not all) end up with a mild case of the illness. Symptoms are believed to occur in affected individuals within 2-14 days of contracting the virus and may last for as long as two weeks before eventually subsiding.
What Can I Do to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19?
While there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, you can help prevent yourself and others from getting the virus by integrating the following practices into your day:
1. Wash Wash Wash Your Hands!
It’s perhaps the most basic tip to avoid getting sick, but practicing good hand-washing habits is truly the first line of defense against seasonal illnesses. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, especially after being in a public place. Make sure to lather your hands in soap, and scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Though soap and water is the best way to wash away germs, carrying hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is helpful if you don’t have access to a restroom. Per the CDC (Center for Disease Control), key times to ensure you are washing your hands include:
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the restroom
- Before eating and preparing food
- After contact with animals/pets
- Before and after providing care for someone who needs assistance (for example, a child or sick family member)
2. Clean and Sanitize Surfaces
Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces on a daily basis is important to protect and maintain good health. Surfaces that are frequently touched such as tables, door knobs, cell phones, counter tops, etc. should all be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis. It’s important to first clean, and then follow with disinfecting. Start by cleaning the surface to remove germs and dirt by wiping down the surface with soap and water. Disinfection uses chemicals to kill the germs on the surface, so it’s important not to skip this step. When disinfecting, use an EPA-registered (Environmental Protection Agency) disinfectant.
Here is a complete disinfection guide specifically addressing COVID-19 from the CDC.
3. Practice Social Distancing
It is crucial that all Americans and indeed all individuals throughout the world practice what is called “social distancing” in a global effort to halt the spread of COVID-19. By maintaining at least six feet of separation from others, avoiding large gatherings and staying out of restaurants, bars, movie theaters and similar venues, the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system can be reduced dramatically. Staying home and avoiding crowds will result in less infection and less deaths overall and is beneficial to everyone in the long run.
4. Cover Coughs and Sneezes
COVID-19 is believed to spread from person-to-person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, airborne respiratory droplets can be inhaled or make contact with another person’s nose or mouth, allowing the virus to spread to its new host. Even if you don’t feel sick, it’s important to cover coughs and sneezes at all times by coughing or sneezing either into a tissue or your elbow. Immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds after throwing away a tissue that you have coughed into.
5. Focus on Self-care
Self-care plays a key role in staying healthy when surrounded by others who are sick, and helps to boost your immune response. Here are a few things you can start to do immediately:
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the fastest ways to cause the immune system to suffer, as immune-boosting white blood cells actually grow in numbers as we sleep. To increase your chances of staying healthy, make sure that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Fast-food and other conveniences are easy to fall into, especially with a busy schedule, however these items often lack proper nutrients and are laden with salt, fat and preservatives. Instead, make efforts to stick to a diet of leafy greens, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains and starchy vegetables like peas and beans).
- Hydrate! Dehydration can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms including confusion, sluggishness and headaches; it can also affect your body’s immune response. The best way to determine that you are drinking enough water is to monitor the color of your urine. If your urine is dark, you need to drink more water. If it is light yellow to clear, you are well-hydrated!
- Manage Your Stress Levels. In addition to daily stressors, it can be increasingly difficult to keep calm when illness is spreading throughout the community. As stress can directly impact the immune system, it’s important to stay mindful of how you’re feeling and slow down when you are feeling overwhelmed.
What Should I Do If I Think I Might Be Sick?
If you or a family member begin to feel ill, watch your symptoms and stay at home, preferably in separate rooms from one another. Rest and take fever and pain reliever to control any potential fever, such as acetaminophen. If you begin to develop a dry cough or fever of 100.2°F, call your healthcare provider immediately to discuss how you should proceed. Wearing a mask and practicing self-isolation at this stage is crucially important to the people around you.
COVID-19 can be confirmed via laboratory testing—more test kits are expected to become available throughout the U.S. in the coming weeks.
There is nothing more important to ConvenientMD than the health and safety of our patients, team members, and communities. ConvenientMD is consistently updating our COVID-19 (coronavirus) policy and procedure to ensure we are evaluating patients safely and effectively. To learn more about ConvenientMD’s most current coronavirus policy and procedure, click here.