How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to be spread mainly from person to person through close contact (about 6 feet or less). The most likely way to get sick is to come into contact with the respiratory droplets from an infected person that they produce when they talk, sneeze, or cough. COVID-19 is also present in their stools.
However, it’s possible to get infected through handshakes or contact with infected surfaces or objects. Most common surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, toilets, phones, keyboards, keys, light switches, etc.
How do I prevent it?
As with other infectious conditions, these prevention basics are your best defense:
Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday twice)
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After going to the bathroom
Before touching your face
Any time your hands are dirty
Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content when soap and water are not available
Always wash with soap and water when your hands are dirty
Avoid touching mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed hands
Avoid contact with sick people
Stay home if you feel sick
Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
Cough and sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue on hand, then wash your clothes as soon as possible
Clean and sanitize objects and surfaces you frequently touch, using regular household cleaning sprays or wipes
Avoid large crowds and events as much as possible
COVID-19 can feel a lot like a cold or the flu. The main symptoms are:
Shortness of breath
Less common symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose, and headache.
Should I go to the doctor?
If you’re concerned about your symptoms, call your doctor before going into the office. They are trained to ask the right questions and give you the best advice about any needed precautions or instructions. Be sure to mention:
Recent travel, especially out of the country
Possible contact with an infected person
If you can’t reach your doctor, call an urgent care or hospital before visiting. If you’re directed to the emergency room, call them for any special instructions before you leave.
If you go to your doctor for any reason, even if you do not believe you’re at risk for COVID-19, call your doctor before going into the office. They may need to make special arrangements to protect other patients.
Can I get an online doctor’s appointment?
Ask your doctor or hospital if they offer virtual or online visits (telehealth) for flu symptom or COVID-19 evaluation and treatment.
Is testing available?
There is a test available for patients who may have COVID-19. Test supplies are limited. A healthcare professional will determine if you should be tested. Your doctor is your best resource, but urgent care centers, hospitals, and emergency rooms have access to the test, too.
Drive-through testing, which currently still requires a doctor’s order, is gradually becoming available in certain communities.
For more information about testing, contact your state health department or call a local COVID-19 hotline.
Should I use a facemask?
The CDC currently recommends only people with symptoms use face masks, in order to reduce the spread of the infection to healthy people. If you are instructed by your doctor’s office to go into their facility or elsewhere to be evaluated, wear your own mask if you have one.
I hope this information has helped you feel more prepared to understand, prevent, and deal with COVID-19. After all, we’re in this together.
People experiencing coronavirus-like symptoms (COVID-19) who are uninsured and do not have an established doctor should call the COVID-19 Hotline at 512-978-8775 for guidance.