Important Guidelines and FAQs for COVID-19
Posted March 24, 2020. Due to the changing nature of the virus, some information may be outdated. Always consult reliable sources for the most up-to-date information. We have listed a few reliable sources at the end of this article.
We know you are concerned during this time of uncertainty.
We understand that it’s stressful to see your world transformed due to a serious virus that is impacting the entire globe.
But we want to emphasize that this is a time for preparation, not panic.
Rest assured, we are always placing your health at the forefront of all that we do. That’s why we’ve implemented some measures to ensure the safety of you and our health care team.
We’re not only concerned about the spread of COVID-19, we’re also concerned with the spread of influenza, which is also active in our area.
Before Coming to Our Office
You should call our office BEFORE visiting if:
- You’re having symptoms of a possible coronavirus. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- You’ve traveled internationally in the past 14 days or have been in a U.S. “hot spot”
- You’ve had close contact with someone who was either confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19
When you call, we’ll assess the situation and provide information for you on what to do.
We ask that you review our full notice on this matter.
We know that this is an inconvenience, but we appreciate your cooperation in helping keep our patients and our staff members safe.
We recognize that there are certain conditions in which treatment should not be delayed, even during this time of social distancing. We have taken steps to limit exposure in our office.
- The phone triage mentioned above
- We are postponing routine screening exams
- We are offering telemedicine appointments for patients who need to consult with us but do not require a physical examination.
When you call to make your appointment, our staff will help determine what type of appointment best suits your needs.
Important COVID-19 Information You Can Use
Because we have an unwavering dedication to your health, we want to provide this useful information about COVID-19, how you catch it, how to keep yourself safe, and what to do if you think you have it.
We also want to emphasize that this situation is constantly changing, and for that reason, you should always be up-to-date on the latest reliable information. To assist you, we’ve compiled a list of resources at the end of this article.
We follow all instructions given to us by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). We do this because they have the most recent, updated information and have established protocols that all health care providers follow to ensure both patients and employees are safe.
We’ll also tackle some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID 19.
In the meantime, if you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should take measures to protect others by isolating yourself. The CDC provides these guidelines.
- Stay at Home Unless You Need Medical Treatment
Those with healthy immune systems, those who are mildly ill and those without serious medical conditions can typically recover at home. However, if you have COVID-19, it’s important to isolate yourself. The exception is that you can leave your home for medical treatment. Please avoid public areas.
- Keep in Touch with Your Doctor
Remember to call before going to your doctor’s office. If you get progressively worse or believe you have an emergency, get medical help.
- Avoid Public Transportation
This includes ride-sharing services in addition to buses or taxis.
Who Should Get Tested for COVID-19?
People who do NOT have any symptoms should NOT be tested for COVID-19.
The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has outlined guidelines for those who qualify for COVID-19 testing. You should get tested if:
- You have either a fever OR lower respiratory symptoms AND you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days. These symptoms include cough and shortness of breath.
- You have fever, cough, shortness of breath AND you have been found negative of a rapid flu test.
If you have these symptoms, you should contact us BEFORE coming to our office.
The NCDHHS is continuing to work closely with health care providers and health departments around the state to provide information on when testing is appropriate.
Please realize that these guidelines may change as the situation continues to develop. The latest information will always be on the NCDHHS website.
The NCDHHS website also has more information on COVID-19 testing you’ll find useful.
How Do You Catch COVID-19?
COVID-19 is showing signs of being a very contagious virus, although scientists are still looking into details about how COVID-19 spreads. Currently, they believe it is spread through coughing or sneezing and person-to-person contact.
It can be spread between two people who are closer than six feet apart or through droplets that are created when someone with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes. These droplets enter the mouths or noses of those nearby, which can spread the virus.
You are most contagious when you are exhibiting symptoms.
It’s also believed that it can be possible to spread the virus if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face, particularly your mouth, nose or eyes.
Can You Spread the Virus If You Don’t Show Symptoms?
As we mentioned earlier, researchers are still learning more about how the virus spreads. For now however, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states:
“Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
Can My Pet Catch COVID-19?
It’s not clear how your furry friend will react in the face of COVID-19. While the CDC says there haven’t been reports of pets or animals coming down with COVID-19, the organization recommends caution. Those with COVID-19 (or those suspected to have COVID-19) should limit contact with pets.
Even if pets don’t get infected, they can carry droplets on their fur. When you pet them, the droplets could transfer to your hands.
If possible, have another member of the family or a friend care for the pet. If that’s not possible, wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet.
Is COVID-19 Spread Through Food?
Currently, the CDC does not think it’s transmitted through food. However, it’s still important to wash your hands before eating and preparing food.
It’s important to note that it is possible to get COVID-19 if you touch a surface that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.. The CDC says there is a very low risk of it spreading from food products or packaging that is shipped over a period of days.
Will Warm Weather Stop COVID-19?
While the flu and common cold don’t spread as much during the summer months, it’s not clear if temperature and weather patterns can affect the spread of COVID-19. Research is continuing into this matter, according to the CDC.
Simple Measures to Prevent Getting COVID-19
While the spread of COVID-19 can be overwhelming, there are actually some very simple measures you can take to dramatically reduce your risk of getting it.
- Practice social distancing
This means staying at least six feet away from others in community gatherings.
- Wash your hands
This remains one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Hand Sanitizer
If you do not have soap and water readily available, you can use a hand sanitizer. However, remember that to be effective, a hand sanitizer must be at least 60 percent alcohol. Be sure to rub your hands together until they feel dry.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth
If you’ve not washed your hands, avoid touching these areas. Wash your hands first.
Remember, if you are healthy and you are not exhibiting any symptoms, you do NOT need to wear a facemask. The only exception is if you are caring for someone who is sick and, for some reason, that person is not able to wear a facemask.
Facemasks should be saved for caregivers.
More information is available on the CDC’s COVID-19 prevention page.
What Should I Do if I Fall Into a High-Risk Category?
Those who are considered at high risk include older adults and those with:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
To protect yourself, you should continue to take the reasonable precautions outlined above. Avoid groups in public places. Be sure to avoid any non-essential travel. Be sure you have a reasonable amount of supplies on hand, including extra medications in case you need to stay at home for a prolonged period of time.
If there’s an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible.
Where to Find Reliable Information
When there is a global health crisis, it’s more important than ever to be prepared and to have sources of reliable information at your disposal.
Don’t believe everything you see on the internet, and definitely don’t trust all your health decisions to social media. Below are three of the most reliable sources for updates on COVID-19:
- The Centers for Disease Control: COVID-19 News
- The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Updates
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service (NCDHHS) COVID-19 Response
- NCDHHS also maintains an accurate update on the number of new cases of COVID-19
We Are Dedicated to Helping Our Patients
When we say we are always there to provide the best care for our patients, we mean it. This is an exceptional event in the history of our country and even our world.
We want you to stay safe and stay healthy. Follow the guidelines. If you have questions, we’d like to refer you to the resources above.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, call the office before arriving.
Most importantly, remain calm.
We will get through this together.