Coronavirus (COVID-19): What You Need To Know & How To Protect Yourself

Impacting now at least 180 countries around the world, we all remain in shock about the impact of a viral infection called Coronavirus (COVID-19). So, what is the Coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that was first identified in China.

Is the Coronavirus contagious? Well, yes! It is contagious and includes symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

How does the virus spread?

The virus spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing. It can also be spread through infected surfaces or objects. You may be at greater risk if you have recently lived in or traveled to regions where there are current outbreaks or if you come into contact with someone who has the virus.

So, what next?! With concerns about spread, economic impact & it's impact on our mental health, we often face a difficult question...what can I do to protect myself, my friends, my neighbors, my family & members of my community?

Here are the following recommendations by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) & the World Health Organization (WHO):

* Wash your hands frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds

* If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

* Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

* Avoid heavily public areas and touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

* Social DISTANCING: Stay about 6 feet (2 meters) away from any social contact.

* Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache or slightly runny nose Seek medical advice or care if you develop a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

What if I start to feel sick? If you experience a fever, dry cough and/or muscle aches.

(1) Call your primary care physician. Call AHEAD before going into the emergency room, urgent care or your primary care physician's office. Why you may ask? This will help the office protect themselves & other patients. Your primary care physician or provider will guide you regarding treatment protocol and where to get treatment.

What if someone in my house gets sick with COVID-19? According to the CDC, most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. It is important to stay home when you are sick & protect your close friends & family members.

When should I seek medical care? What are emergency warning signs for COVID-19?

*Trouble breathing or gasping between breaths

*Persistent pressure or pain in the chest

*Difficult to arouse or new confusion

*Bluish lips or face

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. If you have a medical emergency & feel the need to call 911, notify the operator that you may have or been tested for COVID-19 to protect the first response team. He/She may instruct you to put on a facemask before medical help arrives.

For parents or caregivers for children and infants, here are some steps to protect children from getting sick:

(1) Avoid people who are sick (coughing & sneezing)

(2) Clean hands your hands & encourage your children to wash their hands using BOTH SOAP & WATER or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

(3) Don't forget to clean & disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched in the household. These include tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, sinks,... and don't forget the remotes, microwave handles, washer/dryer handles, windows, etc.

(4) We all love our plush toys, don't we? We will love them more once they are clean...launder items such as these in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Can I launder items from an ill person with other people's items? Yes, dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people's items.

Can children get COVID-19? Yes children may present with mild symptoms, in general. Reported symptoms in children include:

*Cold-like symptoms: fever, runny nose and cough

*Vomiting and diarrhea may be present and have been reported.

What about elderly patients, our grandparents & great-grandparents? It is important to protect our loved ones & practice social distancing from not only each other, but our older family members and friends. Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for SEVERE illness. With that being said, COVID-19 is a new disease and we are learning more about it every day.

COVID-19 outbreak is stressful, with fear & anxiety looming over this pandemic we may feel overwhelmed. The most important thing to do in times like these is to support ourselves & lift each other up.

Here are some helpful tips:

(1) Take care of your body & your mind! Stretch, meditate, take deep breaths and take time for self-care & self-love.

(2) Eat a healthy, well-balanced meal & get plenty of sleep.

(3) Avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs, these all have been shown to decrease your immune response, making it difficult for your body to fight an infection.

(4) Take on a new hobby or do a hobby or activity you enjoy. Break open that book you have been dying to read, tackle that 1000 piece puzzle shoved in the corner, watch some YouTube how-to videos on knitting or download TikTok & practice a coordinated dance.

(5) Call your loved ones, family & friends---we are so fortunate to live in a world where we have access to phones/mobile devices, FaceTime, Skype etc. So take advantage & reach out to those that you love and care for just to support each other during these challenging times.

(6) Being informed what is happening in the world is very important; however, it is also equally important to take breaks from watching, reading or listening to the news stories & social media.

What if you or someone you care about is feeling so overwhelmed with sadness, feelings of depression, anxiety or have thoughts that you want to harm yourself or others? Call 911 and/or the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration's Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

Any additional questions, feel free to check out the CDC website or your local state and country health department website for further guidance.

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