COVID 19 is here…

COVID 19 is spreading across the world and is now here in the US.  The World Health Organization has declared it a “pandemic”.  The situation is fluid and rapidly evolving.  
According to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the decision to classify COVID-19 as a pandemic “was not easy, but resulted from concern for "the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction."  That word—pandemic—is enough to induce widespread panic, and with good reason: According to the WHO, a pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. "A pandemic is when an epidemic spreads between countries," says David Jones, MD, PhD, a professor of the culture of medicine at Harvard University.”

Symptoms and Incubation period

The Incubation period (time between infection and onset of symptoms) ranges from 2-14 days.  However, symptoms usually occur within 5-6 days after infection and the most common symptoms are fever and cough.

Please note a fever is NOT always the first sign that a person is infected.  Other symptoms include muscle pain/aches, fatigue, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, and runny nose.   Some people also experience nausea and diarrhea.  

The disease worsens in the second week- especially in high risk patients.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find more information and recommendations about COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has a page dedicated to COVID-19.  Other sources of information are the World Health Organization and state and local health departments. Information is changing quickly; the latest updates and ongoing changes will be available here.  (CDC) (WHO)

What about the risks of traveling during this time?  

The CDC website has a link for travel that provides useful information and precautionary measures.

If you travel to areas designated as high risk, you may be required to take a leave of absence for the recommended quarantine period before being allowed back to work. Please discuss with your supervisor if you have any upcoming travel plans.

What are the recommended ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
  • First and foremost, wash your hands! Using soap and water for at least 20 seconds is recommended, but hand sanitizer with at least 60%-95% alcohol is also sufficient.  Be sure to wash all surfaces of your hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick.  Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). 
  • Practice respiratory hygiene.  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Put your used tissue in a waste basket.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.  
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning.  Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs, using disposable wipes. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
  • Practice social distancing.  This means limiting possible exposure to the virus by reducing face to face contact with other people and thus preventing spread to others in the community.  Avoid public gatherings, mass gatherings, sporting events, concerts, and airports.  The virus can pass person to person when people are in close quarters.  Avoid close contact with other people who are sick.  NO Handshaking (better to bow, curtsy, elbow bump, or wave…).
  • Postpone or cancel social events, especially for those in high risk groups.

Who is at greatest risk of severe disease?
Older people and people with underlying health conditions (heart disease, lung disease, diabetes) are about twice as likely to develop serious outcomes versus otherwise younger, healthier people.  Older patients and those with chronic medical conditions (heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer) are at risk.  

What should I do if I am concerned that I have COVID-19?
Should you experience a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, you should contact your primary care provider immediately.  That way, your provider can arrange the best and safest way for you to be evaluated and tested, if needed.  You should not report to work if you are ill.

Do I need to wear a face mask when I am not at work?
No. The CDC does not recommend that healthy people wear a face mask when out in the community.

What should we do if we are in contact with a patient who presents with COVID-19?Please follow the procedure that is outlined by your program.   Place a face mask on the patient, move them to a private room and close the door.  If the patient is in an IPU, arrange for transport to the closest Emergency Department and alert them that the patient is being transferred.  In the home care setting, advise the family that the patient should go to the nearest emergency room for evaluation and help to arrange transport if necessary.  Try to minimize your contact with the patient, but don protective equipment if you do.  Notify your supervisor and employee health/infection control of the possible exposure.