ALERT – Coronavirus
The whole world is watching developments of the coronavirus — officially named 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. Friends Life Care cares about your health and wellbeing. We are posting this alert with basic information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) so you can be more knowledgeable about this serious illness.
As of this writing, there have been 92,312 confirmed cases and 3,131 deaths. The majority of these cases are in mainland China where the illness was first identified in December 2019. In the United States, health officials have identified over 100 cases of coronavirus and 6 deaths. The coronavirus is continuing to spread rapidly around the world.
Symptoms To Watch Out For
Symptoms tend to appear 2 – 14 days after exposure and start as a mild to moderate upper respiratory track illness, similar to a common cold.
Common symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath and a fever that can last for several days. People who have come down with coronavirus have experienced a range from mild symptoms to severe illness and even death.
Coronavirus hits hardest among individuals with a weaker immune system, with lung diseases and in the elderly and very young. In this population, there’s a greater chance that the virus could cause a much more serious lower respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis.
It Is Highly Contagious
Watch out for people who are coughing or sneezing. Infected people spread the virus through respiratory secretions as droplets in a cough or sneeze. You can catch it when you come into close contact — within about 6 feet — with an infected person.
“People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest),” the CDC says. “Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with … coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
Depending on how virulent the virus is, a handshake, hug, cough or sneeze can cause exposure. You can also catch the virus by coming into contact with something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. It is very important for people who are feeling ill to avoid contact with other people and minimize the risk for spread.
How It Is Treated
There is no specific antiviral treatment yet; but research is underway. The US National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine but it will be months until clinical trials get underway and more than a year until it might become available.
If you think you have been exposed to the virus, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own with time and rest. Experts advise seeking care early to receive supportive care to relieve symptoms and to help ensure that symptoms do not worsen. In the case that symptoms develop and become worse than a standard cold, it is advised to go to your doctor. The CDC recommends a room humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough.
In some severe cases, the CDC reports, treatment will need to include care to support vital organ functions.
Can You Prevent Catching It?
There is on vaccine to protect against catching the coronavirus yet. You may, however, be able to reduce your risk of infection and illness by avoiding exposure to the virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of this and all 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 against respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people with symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
- The use of facemasks is 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 using 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
CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of viruses, including COVID-19.
Please be aware that Friends Life Care is closely monitoring updates from local, state and governmental health departments. We will continue to communicate with you as new information is received. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a good source for up-to-date information regarding this health concern. For specific questions about a personal concern regarding the coronavirus, please feel free to contact me at Friends Life Care’s offices.
Elise N. Lamarra, MS, BSN, RN — Chief Operating Officer
Elise Lamarra joined Friends Life Care Partners in March 2007. She oversees the Care Coordination and Admissions Departments as well as risk management.
Elise has over 33 years of clinical, administrative and managerial experience in acute care, home health care, hospice care and managed care. For the last 26 years, she has devoted her career to home care and hospice work. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Home Care Association and serves on its Public Policy Committee. She also serves on the boards of Leading Age PA and Friends Services for the Aging.
Elise earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University Cincinnati College of Nursing and Health and a Master of Science degree in Organizational Development and Leadership at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). Elise has presented at the local and national level including LeadingAge, the American Society on Aging and the Montgomery County (PA) Estate Planning Council.
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