The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, it’s important to remember that not everyone gets sick during a pandemic, and when the right precautions are used, the potential of getting sick goes down drastically.
Scientists know it takes a virus or bacteria to make you sick, so by using strategies to reduce the spread, you also reduce the possibility of getting sick or passing it to your loved one. Here are some commonly asked questions about COVID-19 and how to stay safe. It’s also important to remember that these precautions will also keep you and loved one safe from the common flu, responsible for infecting up to 11% of the U.S. each year.
What is COVID-19 and What Are the Symptoms?
This is a large family of viruses that have been causing respiratory illnesses for decades. The family was first described in the 1960s and is responsible for a substantial number of upper respiratory tract infections in children. Only since 2003 have new types been discovered, including SARS and MERS. The most recent is COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, the symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
The first three are the most common. They often appear gradually. However, some people may have the virus but don’t develop symptoms and don’t feel sick.
How Can I Stop the Spread?
The virus spreads from one person to another through small droplets released from the nose or mouth. This is the same method of transmission for a cold or flu virus. If you touch an object where a droplet landed and then touch your face, or a droplet lands on your face, then you may become infected.
To help stop the spread and protect your loved ones, it’s important to stay up to date with the most current information. You can reduce the potential of being infected or spreading it using simple precautions:
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, taking care to clean under your nails and between your fingers. Your fingertips carry the most bacteria since they touch the most places – so take care to rub your fingers over the palm of your other hand as you’re washing.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to a sink.
- Maintain a six-foot distance from anyone who appears to be sick. The CDC is calling this “social distancing” as it helps reduce the risk of a droplet landing on you if they cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your face at all, and only after you’ve thoroughly washed your hands and haven’t touched anything else. Your fingers may pick up the virus from an object and transfer it to your nose, mouth or eyes where it will begin to grow.
- If possible, stay home and “shelter in place” to reduce the risk of spreading a contagious disease. As well as COVID-19, this is also the cold and flu season.
Who Is at the Highest Risk?
The CDC and WHO believe 80% who contract the virus will experience very mild symptoms, so it’s important to stay vigilant of your own health to reduce the risk you’ll pass it to others. While you may have mild symptoms, older adults and those who have underlying medical or immune deficiency problems have a higher risk of severe illness.
What Should I Stop Doing?
Although there is no known medical treatment for a viral illness, there are steps you can take to support your body’s effort to heal.
- Get at least eight hours of quality sleep.
- Avoid eating processed sugar as it impacts your immune system and slows the response.
- Do not take antibiotics as they are not effective against a virus and may make the situation worse. However, if you develop a secondary bacterial pneumonia, then antibiotics are needed.
- Avoid smoking or being around anyone who smokes. This also impacts your immune system and damages your lungs.
- Wear a mask only if you have the virus and must be close to people. Disposable masks are good for only one use. There is a worldwide shortage of masks, so WHO recommends using them only when necessary.
What Should I Do If I Get Sick?
If you have any symptoms, including mild ones, you should stay home and away from anyone else. Call your physician if you are not in distress to ask if they recommend testing. If you experience physical or respiratory distress or find your condition is worsening, call the hospital for their recommended procedure to enter the emergency room. Most hospitals are only allowing the sick or injured to enter; families are not allowed to come in or visit unless there are mitigating circumstances.
How Can I Keep My Loved One Safe?
At Anodyne, we have plans and procedures in place to monitor, prepare and respond to any issue that may impact our staff or clients. Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our employees, clients and those we serve. To that end, we are ensuring your caregivers are healthy.
You can do your part to ensure the health and safety of your loved one by practicing the safety measures listed above and stay alert for symptoms in your loved one or anyone with whom they come in contact.