Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 is a new strand of coronavirus to infect humans. It was first detected in China and has now spread around the world, including the United States. While the outbreak levels have started to increase in the United States, information on COVID-19 is constantly changing. As the CDC continues to update information, here are five basics facts you should know about COVID-19.
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19? COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. Some symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, headaches and possibly fever. For people who have a weakened immune system, such as the elderly, the very young or immunocompromised patients, symptoms can become severe quickly and can cause serious respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Should I buy a mask to protect myself from contracting COVID-19? The CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. Cloth masks should be regularly washed with detergent and the warmest water the fabric allows. Be sure to wash your hands after handling used masks and avoid touching your eyes, nose and face when removing or putting on your mask. It is important to note that these face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Additionally, surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC guidance.
- What preventions and treatments are available? Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent contraction is to avoid being exposed to the virus. There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. People who contract the virus should receive supportive care from their healthcare team to help alleviate symptoms. People with a severe case will need care that involves support for vital organs. Some everyday preventions the CDC recommends are:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneezes with a tissue and immediately throw it away in the trash.
- Disinfect objects that you frequently use, such as your phone, computer, purse, remotes, chargers, kids’ toys, water bottles, etc.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating or after you cough or sneeze.
- Can I still travel? The CDC currently lists China, Iran, most European countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland as having widespread ongoing transmissions. People traveling to these areas can expect restrictions on entry to the United States and quarantines upon return. The CDC also list a global pandemic having widespread ongoing transmission globally. The CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential travel, especially those that are older adults or those who have chronic medical conditions. The status of COVID-19 is changing every day, so continue to monitor the CDC’s list of travel notices before traveling.
- What should I do if I think I have COVID-19? If you are an Ochsner patient and think you contracted COVID-19, reach out to the Ochsner COVID-19 Info Line, our free nurse care line. Our specially trained registered nurses are available to discuss your health care concerns, recommend self-care techniques and help you decide if your symptoms require a visit to urgent or emergency care. The service is free and available by calling 1-844-888-2772. For general information, dial the Louisiana hotline, 211, or text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211. Or see a provider from home with an Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual visit.
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.