What is the Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a class of viruses that are often associated with the common cold.  This past winter there was a newly identified coronavirus that has not been in human populations previously.  The disease caused by this coronavirus is Covid-19. Currently there are no immunizations or specific treatments. 

Where can I find out more about Coronavirus?

You can find out more information about Coronavirus by visiting the CDC website at: CDC.gov

What symptoms should we be looking for?

  • Symptoms include – Fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately.

In adults, emergency warning signs*:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Clinical syndrome of COVID-19

The New England Journal of Medicine has published an article with a summary of clinical characteristics of COVID-19 patients in China (Guan, WJ et al):

  • Frequent clinical findings were fever and cough, though not all patients had those symptoms.  Over half of patients did not have fever on admission.
  • For patients who had lung CT scans, 86% showed abnormal results, most commonly ground glass opacity and bilateral patchy shadowing. (we are not recommending routine CT scan on our patients—Plain x-rays were not overly helpful)
  • Lab studies reveals lymphocytopenia in 83%, thrombocytopenia in 36%, and leukopenia in 34%.


What precautions should we take to protect myself?

Steps to prevent infection and the spread of coronavirus are available on the CDC website at: CDC.gov

What Should I do if someone in my household has been exposed?

  • They should monitor their health for 14 days.
  • Until they become ill, you are not considered to be exposed.
  • If they become ill—fever and cough, then they are presumed to be infected and you should notify their doctor, but unless they are having breathing problems the likely recommendation will be home care.
  • At this point, it is assumed that you have been exposed and our recommendation would be for you to self isolate at home for 14 days or until you no longer have a fever, whichever is later.

Who is at the highest risk to contract the virus?

Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

What should I do if I fall into the category above?

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease. Steps that you can take is to self-isolate or work remotely.

How does this virus affect pregnant woman?

Information on how Covid-19 affects pregnant women is very limited. All workers should follow the infection control recommendations that are being put forward.  It may be reasonable for pregnant staff to avoid aerosol generating procedures especially collecting swabs if a decision has been made to test for covid-19.  It is also reasonable to avoid being in room with patient receiving nebulizer treatment if at all possible.

What constitutes exposure to Covid-19 in the community?

  • A person generally needs to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:
    • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19,
    • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19
    • Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, OR
    • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).
  • If they have not been in close contact with a sick person with COVID-19, they are considered to be at low risk for infection.
  • They can continue to go to work and school, but should monitor their health for 14 days and stay away from others if you get sick.  Develop Fever, Cough or Myalgias.

How do I care for my family member who is at high risk of complications should they get Covid-Virus—either my elderly parent or grand parent, or my child with Asthma?

  • We know that this is a scary situation for you and therefore prevention is the best medicine.
    • Frequent hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow.
    • Stay home if you are sick
    • Clean work surfaces frequently including computer keyboards, iphones and cell phones.
    • It also makes sense to launder your clothes frequently and to consider changing clothes as soon as you get home.
  • As for your family members our recommendations for our high risk patients are good advice:
    • Social Distancing:
      • Avoid crowds, keeping at least 6 feet between you and anyone else.
      • Stay home as much as possible to avoid anyone who may be sick.
      • Cancel any unnecessary travel or cruises.
  • Be Prepared to Stay Home:
      • Have a supply of food, medications, medical supplies, and all household items (including cleaning and hygiene products).
      • Consider ways of getting food/supplies delivered to you (younger family members or delivery services).
  • Know the Symptoms of Coronavirus:
      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Fever
      • Cough
  • Call your doctor for next steps. Staying home may be the best option, to avoid further exposure to the virus in hospitals or ER.
  • Have a plan in case you or your caregiver get sick. Identify ways to isolate yourself from other household members:
      • Sleep in a separate room.
      • Use a separate bathroom.
      • Wear a mask if you need to be in same room.
      • Practice good hygiene (hand washing, cleaning of surfaces, covering cough/sneeze). 
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for Coronavirus, get medical attention immediately:
      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion or inability to wake up
      • Bluish lips or face