Questions about Coronavirus COVID-19 Answered

How Does Coronavirus COVID-19 spread?

  • It is believed to mainly be spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets from infected people produced when they cough or sneeze. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.  People within 6 feet of an ill person may be infected by these droplets.
  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has a virus on and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes although this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  • The virus may also be spread from people who are infected but do not have symptoms.

How do I protect myself & my family?

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
      • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
      • Put distance between yourself and other people by staying at least 6 feet away from others.
      • Avoid large gatherings of people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
      • If soap & water are not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will also work.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth & nose with a tissue if you cough or sneeze. Immediately throw away the used tissue in the trash can afterward and wash your hands with soap & water for 20 seconds.  If tissue not available, please cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Clean & disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your home such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. Most common EPA certified cleaners will work.  An alternative to products such as Lysol or Clorox would be 4 teaspoons household bleach mixed with 1 quart of water.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure (average is 4 days) and vary in intensity from mild to severe.

The most commonly seen symptoms include:

    • Cough – tends to be a dry cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fever – temperature over 100.4 or over 99.6 if you are over age 65.

Other symptoms may include any combination of the following:

    • Fatigue
    • Muscle pain
    • Chills (may be severe enough to cause shaking chills called rigors)
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste and/or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion & runny nose
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea & vomiting

If you develop these Emergency warning symptoms of COVID-19, call us or seek emergency care immediately.  These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

        • Trouble breathing
        • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
        • New confusion or inability to arouse
        • Bluish lips or face

What do I do if I am sick?

  • Stay home – most people who have mild to moderate symptoms will do fine at home. The current CDC recommendation for how long a person who has not had a COVID-19 test to stay home when sick is:
    • stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is completely gone (do not need any medicine to keep fever down)
    • AND your symptoms have improved
    • AND at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first began.
  • Stay away from others as much as possible by staying in one room at home and limiting contact with family members.
  • Hydrate – drink water or mix of half apple juice, half water. This is an important way to help your body fight off the virus.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze as detailed above.
  • Clean your hands often with soap & water or hand sanitizer.
  • Do not share items such as drinking glasses, dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people in your house. Wash these items thoroughly with soap & water after use.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your sick room and bathroom. Another person in your house can clean other areas of your house but if possible, have the sick person clean in their own room to keep family members safe from infection.
  • Call our office at 919.846.9292 if your symptoms are severe enough that you need to seek care.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

There are two types of tests for COVID-19, a viral test and an antibody test.  The viral test checks for current infection and should be done when a person has symptoms.  The other test is an antibody test which checks to see if a person has been exposed to or had a COVID-19 infection and developed antibodies to this infection.  These antibodies will usually develop 7 to 21 days after first infected. It is not yet known if test guarantees future immunity to COVID-19.

The North Carolina Department of Health currently recommends testing for the following groups:

  1. Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19  (see above list)
  2. Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms
  3. Groups of some of the populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected. People in these groups should get tested if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.
    • People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp).
    • People from historically marginalized populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
    • Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites, processing plants, etc.)
    • Health care workers or first responders.
    • People who are at higher risk of severe illness.
  4. People who have attended large gatherings of people could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others.

Testing is becoming more available.  If you feel like you need a test, please call the office to discuss your options.

The majority of people that become infected with the virus will have mild to moderate symptoms and recover at home without any difficulty.  All viruses are contagious and it is always advisable to avoid being around vulnerable people who are at risk of complications when you have any viral illness.  There is no treatment currently approved specifically for this virus so whether you have a test or not, the treatment plan is rest, fluids and supportive care if your symptoms worsen more than expected.

Special testing considerations:

If you have a positive test result after a known COVID 19 exposure but never develop symptoms then it is recommended that you self isolate for 10 days from the date of the test.

Should I wear a mask?

You should wear a mask in the following situations:

  1. If you are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 you should wear a mask when you are around other people at home or if you have to leave home to seek medical care.
  2. If you are caring for someone who is ill with symptoms of COVID-19 and they are unable to wear a mask, then the caregiver should wear a mask.
  3. It is advised that everyone follow the CDC guidelines advising the use of wearing a mask to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others (assymptomatic spread).  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as a voluntary public health measure.  Guidance on cloth face coverings from the CDC available here.

Who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and what can they do?

Please know that being at higher risk of severe illness does not mean that you will definitely get the virus.  It does mean that you should be extra careful to avoid sick people and to control any chronic conditions as well as possible.  Please know that if you do get a cough in the near future, it does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19.  Seasonal allergies and other routine viral infections are currently present in our community. Please remember that 95 to 97% of people that get coronavirus survive.

Groups at higher risk of complications from this virus include:

  • People over age 65
  • People with chronic lung conditions such as COPD (emphysema) or moderate to severe asthma
  • People with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, especially if not well controlled
  • People with severe obesity (BMI over 40)
  • People with HIV
  • People who are immune suppressed due to illness or medical treatment (like chemotherapy for cancer)
  • People with chronic kidney or liver disease

Steps to take if you are at higher risk for severe illness:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick by staying 6 feet away (about 2 arms length away).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid cruises or any unnecessary travel.
  • Continue to take your medications. Do not stop any medication without calling us.
  • Continue to work on controlling your chronic illness through healthy eating and exercising.
  • Call us if you are sick or have any questions at 919.846.9292.

What can I do to help cope with the stress of all this?

Everyone reacts differently to stress.  Fear and anxiety about the virus and all the economic changes can be very difficult to control.  If you are feeling continuously overwhelmed by everything going on, please call us to discuss options.  There are a few things you can try at home that will help.

  • Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including on social media. Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic is very distressing and unnecessary.
  • Take care of your body. Meditate, stretch, take deep breaths.  Take a walk.  Take your prescribed medications regularly. Try to eat healthy meals, exercise, get plenty of sleep.  Avoid alcohol, drugs or binge shopping online.
  • Try new activities.
  • Connect with others using the phone or technology. Talk to someone about how you are feeling.

What measures are we taking to protect our patients?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our primary concern is the health of our patients.  It is important that our patients continue to follow up with routine visits for health care maintenance and for monitoring of chronic conditions.  We will continue the following measures to protect our patients:

    • Appointments for well patients will continue to be seperated from appointments for sick visits.  We can help you decide which type of visit is the best option for you when you call to schedule an appointment.  If you are scheduled as a well visit or routine follow up and develop symptoms, please call before your visit so that we can discuss the best way to get you the care you need.
    • TeleVisits will continue to be an option.  See our TeleVisit page for more information.
    • We are limiting the number of people in our waiting room by having people wait in their cars for their appointments.  We ask that patients call from the parking lot when they arrive for their appointment.  We will complete as much of your checkin as possible on the phone.  When an exam room is available, we will call you to come up from your car.
    • We follow CDC guidelines when thoroughly cleaning exam rooms between patients. The waiting room is thoroughly cleaned by our staff regularly throughout the day and by a cleaning crew at night.
    • Staff and providers will be wearing masks.
    • We ask that patients wear a mask during the hours that we see sick patients.  We will provide a mask if necessary.
    • We ask that patients come by themselves if possible.  If you need assistance, please limit it to one additional person.

-3/22/2020 (last updated 9/20/2020) - Information sources include Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization & North Carolina  Department of Health 

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