Updated July 16, 2020. This post will continue to be updated as more information is available.
The outbreak of COVID-19, the illness caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, continues to be a global health challenge. As of July 16, 2020, the U.S. has over three million confirmed cases of COVID-19.
There are many things we can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Below, we’ve answered some of the most common questions our members have about how they can stay safe and healthy during this time.
How can I protect myself?
We recommend practicing good hygiene in the same way you would protect yourself during cold and flu season along with a few added precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going into public or touching common surfaces. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Practice social distancing and keep space between yourself and others outside your home. This means avoiding crowded places and group gatherings, as well as staying 6 feet away from other people. If you are quarantining with others or are a caretaker during this time, here is how to stay safe at home.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Close contact is considered spending more than a few minutes within 6 feet of a sick person, or sharing common surfaces or utensils.
- Wear a cloth face covering or face mask when in public settings or around people you are newly exposed to, especially in places with a high density of people, such as grocery stores or transit centers. For more information on when to wear face masks, see here.
- Stay home and self isolate if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough. We also recommend you reach out to us to review your symptoms and discuss getting tested for coronavirus.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
How is COVID-19 transmitted?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread through coughing, sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, or touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth without washing hands. In short, it is passed along like a cold or flu, but is more contagious. Because it can pass short distances through the air, it is appropriate to take reasonable precautions, such as maintaining adequate ventilation, avoiding staying in another person’s direct air flow, and minimizing the number of people sharing the same environment. Keeping social interactions outside is another easy way to reduce risk of exposure through contaminated air.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of COVID-19 can range from none at all to severe breathing difficulty. Cough and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms, with other common symptoms including fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, sore throat, repeated shaking with chills, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell. Symptoms may appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure.
I don’t have symptoms but am at higher risk for viral infection. What should I do to reduce my risk?
People over the age of 65 and those with other risk factors are at higher risk of infection and complications of infection. If you fall into one of these categories, we recommend that you keep enough supplies at home to reduce unnecessary trips into public, avoid crowds, and cancel all non-essential travel. Especially if there is an active COVID-19 outbreak in your area, you should stay home as much as possible to minimize your risk of exposure. If you must go out, wear a cloth mask, practice strict social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.
Other risk factors such as poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity can increase a person’s risk for complications from COVID-19. If you have any of these conditions, consider working with your primary care team to help reduce your risk in the future.
Who should get tested for coronavirus?
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at unprecedented levels across the United States, the demand for testing has increased significantly in recent weeks. While testing facilities, laboratories and hospitals have ramped up operations to provide critical resources and care since the onset of coronavirus, the new surge in testing demand is once again straining the healthcare system. In particular, major labs that process COVID-19 tests are experiencing capacity restraints that are causing delays in test result turnaround times and supplies.
One Medical is hyper-focused on finding solutions to lab result turnaround timelines in order to provide our patients with results in a manner that is most helpful to them and to wider contact tracing efforts. While we continue to believe that widespread testing is essential to curbing the spread of coronavirus, it is of utmost importance that those who most critically need testing continue to have access to it.
When considering making an appointment for a COVID-19 test, we encourage you keep in mind the nationwide constraints and whether or not you fall into any of the below categories:
- People experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Members of or caretakers for someone who is part of a vulnerable population
- Essential workers
- People that have reason to believe they could have an active infection
Given the current case levels and testing constraints our nation is once again experiencing, we continue to urge people to follow the CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself and others from spreading COVID-19. One Medical’s highest priority is to ensure the health and safety of our members and our communities. We will continue to work in close coordination with the departments of public health in all the markets we serve, and keep you updated on the latest guidance.