Updated: Mar 19
**Please note, Associated Physicians is currently unable to test for Coronavirus. If you are a patient and feel you need to be tested, please call the clinic for instruction.**
There's been a lot of information in the news about an outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.
According to the CDC, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR FOR INSTRUCTIONS if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 -OR- Have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.
According to the CDC, this information is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.
**COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States.**
Preventing the Spread of COVID-19
**There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).**
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
Social Distance vs. Isolation vs. Quarantine
According to the CDC, proper social distancing involves remaining out of congregate settings (crowded places), avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
EVERYONE SHOULD BE DOING THIS!
If you do not have symptoms but have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 either through physical contact or travel to a high risk area YOU MUST SELF-QUARANTINE FOR AT LEAST 14 DAYS. Along with these guidelines, the CDC defines quarantine as, “the separation of a person or group of people…from others who have not been so exposed.”
Those in more vulnerable populations should strongly consider self-quarantining to avoid disease at all costs.
If you have symptoms or are “reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious” YOU MUST ISOLATE. According to the CDC, this means separating yourself completely from others including close friends, family, roommates, etc.
Isolation for public health purposes may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health order.
For more detailed information, visit the CDC Risk Assessment Page
What to Do if You are Sick
Call your doctor: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever1 and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is social distancing?
It means minimizing contact with people and maintaining a distance of at least six feet between you and others. Avoid public transportation, limit nonessential travel, work from home and skip gatherings. This strategy saved thousands of lives both during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and in Mexico City during the 2009 flu pandemic.
I'm young. Can I continue to socialize?
Please don’t. There is no question that older people and those with underlying health conditions are most vulnerable to the virus, but young people are by no means immune. And there is a greater public health imperative. Even people who show only mild symptoms may pass the virus to many, many others — particularly in the early course of the infection, before they even realize they are sick.
Can I leave my house?
It’s O.K. to go outdoors. The point is not to remain indoors, but to avoid being in close contact with others. When you do leave your home, wipe down any surfaces you come into contact with, avoid touching your face and frequently wash your hands.
**If you are sick, have had exposure to someone who may be, or if you are considered 'high-risk' you are strongly encouraged to stay home**
Can I go to the supermarket?
Yes, buy as much as you can at a time to minimize the number of trips, and pick a time when the store is least likely to be crowded. Be aware that any surface inside the store may be contaminated, especially the handle of the cart.
**Grocery delivery and pick-up services are available at certain stores (HyVee, Metcalfe's, Kwik Trip, Woodmans, etc. If you need to go, please note that some local grocery stores are changing their hours and holding special hours for vulnerable guests.**
Can I go out to dinner at a restaurant?
In general, avoid going out to restaurants. Opt for takeout.
**Bars and restaurants have largely been closed in our area. Delivery may still be available.**
Can family come to visit?
That depends. If everyone in the family is young and healthy, then some careful interaction in small groups is probably OK. Eldery relatives and others at risk should stay away, at least for now.
Can I take my kids to the playground?
Serious illness from this virus in kids is rare. But kids tend to touch their mouths, noses and faces constantly so parents, especially in higher-risk areas, may want to reconsider trips to high-traffic public areas like the playground. If you do go, playgrounds with few kids are ideal. Take hand sanitizer with you and clean any surfaces with disinfecting wipes before they play.
How long will we need to practice social distancing?
That is a big unknown, experts said. A lot will depend on how well the social distancing measures in place work and how much we can slow the pandemic down. But prepare to hunker down for at least a month, and possibly much longer.
This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.
CDC Communication Resources