As you know, the coronavirus is in our community. As testing increases, more cases will likely be identified in the coming days. Please do not panic. The prevailing opinion is that while community spread is inevitable, most cases will be mild; the majority of COVID-19 infections do not require hospitalization. However, the risk of more severe infection does increase with age and among those with weakened immune systems.
I want to share the following important information with you.
Call your healthcare provider to see if you should be tested for COVID-19 if:
- You are over 65, have serious chronic medical conditions or a compromised immune system, and experience symptoms of respiratory infection, even if mild.
- You have symptoms that include shortness of breath, fever, cough and have had close contact with a COVID-19 patient or a history of travel from an affected geographic area in the past 14 days. Affected areas include China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.
- If you are currently a member of my practice, please call the office for instructions – no walk-ins please. We ARE NOT equipped to provide swab testing or to treat the virus at this time.
Please note that not all people will or should be tested, as tests will be reserved for those deemed to be most at risk for having contracted the virus.
Updated recommendations include:
- Practice social distancing: Avoid activities where you have a lot of exposure to the general public. Pregnant women, elderly individuals and those with underlying health conditions who are at most risk for developing serious effects from the virus should stay away from mass gatherings such as religious services, concerts or sporting events.
- Senior travel advisory: High-risk seniors - individuals over age 60 who have chronic lung, heart or kidney conditions, those with diabetes, those using chronic immunosuppressants or on chemotherapy – should avoid travel and stay home whenever possible.
- Prepare yourself: Have groceries, household items, over-the-counter medicines and supplies like tissues on hand so you will be able to stay at home for a period of time if needed. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home. Although we should prepare to isolate for 14 days, stockpiling supplies is not recommended as it takes away from those in need of supplies and can’t travel.
Treatment: Treatment consists of isolation and supportive care to relieve symptoms. There are currently no antiviral medications that have been proven to be effective.
Prevention: There is no vaccine yet available for COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC urges all to do their part to help respond to this emerging public health threat. Most essential is to stay healthy by getting your flu shot if you haven’t already done so, and take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, including:
- Stay home when sick.If you have a fever, mild cough or other mild symptoms of respiratory infection, self-quarantine in your home, and use over-the-counter medications to treat.
- Wash hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Please note: do not purchase facemasks to protect yourself. Facemasks are in short supply now, and should be used only by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 and by health workers and others who are caring for COVID-19 patients.
For regular updates, please keep checking this website and these other trusted sources of information:
Let’s continue to be vigilant and look out for each other. We will get through this together.
Monica D. Sarang, M.D.