Information About COVID-19
COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can cause a variety of symptoms in human beings ranging from mild to fatal. This virus is currently considered a pandemic and has spread rapidly throughout the world, including Virginia and Charlottesville. Symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection may be respiratory like a cold (runny nose, cough, sore throat, low grade fever) or gastrointestinal like a stomach flu (particularly diarrhea). Adults over the age of 60 years and those with underlying illnesses are at greater risk for more severe disease. The typical onset between exposure and symptoms averages 5 days (the range is from 2-14 days), and the typical onset between exposure and severe illness appears to be averaging about 11 days. COVID-19 spreads easily and rapidly between people via respiratory droplets, even from those who don’t yet have symptoms or those who never develop any symptoms. The droplets can infect people directly, or be transferred to hands or hard surfaces, from which the virus can survive and infect other people for up to 72 hours. Because asymptomatic people can spread the virus to others quickly and efficiently it is critical to practice social distancing as we try to slow the spread of the virus.
Symptoms and Symptom Management
- If you develop any concerning symptoms it is critical that you isolate yourself from others immediately, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
- Please call the office with any concerns or questions.
- The Virginia Department of Health has a very useful overview here.
- If your symptoms are mild, we will recommend that you remain at home, in isolation and treat with over the counter remedies such cough syrup, decongestant, and good hydration. We can recommend specific therapies if needed. We do NOT recommend seeking face to face medical care for mild symptoms at our office, an urgent care or the ER. This places an additional burden on an already overtaxed system and increases your risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
- It is currently recommended that you use acetaminophen/Tylenol for fever and aches instead of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin. There are concerns that using NSAIDS can prevent the body from mounting a successful defense against the virus and can actually be more harmful than helpful.
- If your symptoms progress and you develop breathing difficulty, severe abdominal pain or dehydration it is important you get in touch with us immediately, or call 911 if you do not feel safe remaining at home.
What About Testing?
Unfortunately, Charlottesville is still experiencing a lack of adequate testing supplies and capacity. This means that we have to prioritize who to test, to make sure we are using our testing ability to identify those patients who could truly benefit from having the presence of SARS-CoV-2 confirmed. You can read about guidelines for testing here.
Even patients who meet CDC/VDH criteria for testing may still not be able to receive a test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 due to the limited availability of testing. At this time Ivy Family Medicine is not able to offer/consider testing for those patients with mild symptoms who would like testing to confirm whether or not their symptoms are due to COVID 19.
Stay At Home
The single most important thing you can to do protect yourself and our community from the spread of COVID is to STAY HOME, which has now been mandated by Governor Northam. The goal of this stay at home order is to “flatten the curve” and slow the rate of transmission and contraction of the illness which will allow the community and medical systems more time to prepare. You can find the anticipated peak hospital resource use across the country here.
You can read a more detailed explanation here.
- Go out only for necessary supplies, groceries and medication, and remain kind and thoughtful when doing so. Purchase only what you think you will need for a 10-14 day period to ensure that everyone will have access to basic necessities.
- You should have a 30-90 day supply of any medications you require on a daily basis.
- Consider bringing some variety in to your home cooking by picking up take out from many of the local restaurants that have remained open. You can find a list here.
- Exercise at home (or outdoors-but make sure you keep a distance of 6 feet from anyone else!)
- Social distancing is critical, but remember to support those in your community who may not be able to manage this on their own such as elderly and those with chronic illness.
Minimize Exposure Risk
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. You should sanitize with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- The CDC has recommended that all people wear a non-medical grade mask that covers their nose and mouth if they are out in public. It does not need to be a surgical mask, but simply a face covering. There are many organizations and crafters making these now, but you can also make them yourself-without sewing. You can find some options here. Custom Ink, a local company, is also making masks. You can find those here. Eventually, we expect that there will be a sufficient supply of medical grade masks, but for now please leave those for health care workers on the front lines.
- Regardless of whether you are wearing a mask or not, try to avoid touching your face.
- Try to maintain as much distance as possible, ideally at least 6 feet from other people you encounter.
- Clean surfaces with alcohol or ammonia containing products, soap and water, or a home made bleach spray containing 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. A list of cleaning solutions believed to kill the coronavirus can be found here.
- Wipe down surfaces outside of your home before you touch them.
- You may want to consider wearing washable gloves (like gardening gloves) when in stores. Just make sure to remove them before getting in the car to drive home!
Reliable Sources of Information
There are many brilliant people actively working to address the current pandemic. It is critical that you get inform yourself from reliable sources. I recommend: