Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Updated 3/27/2020

What is the Coronavirus?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

How do you get infected?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.

How can I protect myself?

Clean your hands often

  • 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 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 touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

  • Avoid shaking hands. Greet people with a wave or a nod instead.
  • Maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Stay home if you’re sick

  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Wear a facemask if you are sick

  • If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask, then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
  • If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and disinfect 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Who is most at risk?

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones. While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others. 

Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

Only wear a mask if you have COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so you are encouraged to use masks wisely. The World Health Organization advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks

How do I know if I am infected?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (this is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).

I think I'm infected - what do I do?

Stay home except to get medical care

  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
  • Avoid public areas: Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

  • Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Limit contact with pets & animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information on the phone with doctor

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

  • Call ahead: If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Is there a vaccine or a cure?

  • No vaccine is currently available.
  • Several organizations around the world are developing vaccines, using several different methods.
  • By early March 2020, 30 vaccine candidates were in development, with products by Gilead Sciences and Ascletis Pharma in Phase III clinical trials.
  • Several compounds, which were previously approved for treatment of other viral diseases, such as favipiravir, ribavirin, remdesivir and galidesivir, are being investigated against the coronavirus.

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