Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): What You Need to Know
The spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has the world concerned about its potential impact. The death toll is rising and every day more people are being diagnosed with the virus. We've rounded up all the information you need to know about how to protect yourself from this fast-moving illness.
What is it?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. It is believed be spreading person-to-person, although it may have originated in animals. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), individuals who have been diagnosed with this illness have experienced the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
When Should I Call My Doctor?
If you have recently been traveled outside of the United States in the past 14 days, or have been in contact with someone who has , and you are exhibiting symptoms within 14 days of possible exposure, please contact your doctor’s office to discuss your next steps, which may include diagnostic testing by the CDC and/or monitoring by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. If you are feeling well enough that you do not need to be hospitalized, call your doctor’s office to discuss your care before going in for a sick visit or to an Urgent Care Center.
If you are a returning traveler and you do not have any signs or symptoms, you do not need to take any action or visit your physician. Much is still unknown about this virus, particularly the transmission, and a visit to one of the countries above does not necessarily mean you are in danger.
What Should I do to Protect Myself and Others?
While there are currently no vaccines to protect you against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the risk to the American population is currently very low. Americans have been advised to restrict travel to the countries above if unnecessary, and there are steps you can take to further prevent illness. “As with many viruses, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to wash your hands often,” says Donna Sears, Sturdy Memorial Hospital’s Infection Control. “If you cough or sneeze, make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then throw the tissue away. If you do not have a tissue, cough into your elbow. Germs are often spread through respiratory droplets.”
Additional prevention tips include:
- Staying home if you're sick to avoid coming into contact with others, unless you require urgent medical attention.
- Using disinfectants to clean areas that are commonly touched- like door handles, light switches, and countertops- which make it easy for germs to silently travel from one person to another.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at every opportunity and most importantly before touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and before eating.
- Try to maintain six feet between other people, particularly if they appear ill.
In preparing for identification and care of patients who may have COVID-19, Sturdy has created a task force who is monitoring daily recommendation and guidance from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health to ensure Sturdy is providing care based on the most current recommendations. We have taken every precaution to ensure that we can provide all patients, including those with possible COVID-19, with the highest quality care while protecting hospital staff, other patients and visitors. Screening processes have been implemented and signage has been placed at the hospital and outpatient clinics to quickly identify potential patients with COVID-19 and encourage anyone ill to remain at home or call their doctor prior to coming to the office or ED. We have implemented appropriate training and education for our staff to utilize personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of our staff and patients. Regular education and updates are being sent to clinical providers and staff to ensure they are prepared to provide the most up to date care. Planning is occurring to ensure that Sturdy is ready to care for a larger influx of ill patients should that occur.
As an added safeguard against the possible spread of novel Coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, and other infectious diseases such as the flu, we are restricting visitation within the hospital at this time.
If you have concerns about your health, and do not need emergency care, please call your physician's office to discuss your next steps for treatment before going into the office or traveling to a medical facility.
Dr. Antonella Fine, Sturdy Memorial Hospital's Physician Director of Hospital Infection Control has provided answers to frequently asked questions. Additional resources and information can be found below:
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
About Coronavirus - CDC Resources
Coronavirus FAQ - English
Coronavirus FAQ - Spanish
Coronavirus FAQ - Portuguese
Coronavirus FAQ - Chinese