March 17, 2020

COVID-19: What you need to know

COVID-19, originally referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV), was recently discovered in Wuhan, China. Cases of COVID-19 are appearing across the globe, and Van Diest Medical Center along with our affiliate MercyOne is monitoring and preparing for the virus to help keep our communities healthy.

What are COVID-19 symptoms?
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you begin to experience symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, call your primary care provider before coming in.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 seek medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

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

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are concerning.

How do people get Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, similar to the flu – through the air from a cough or sneeze of someone who has the virus.

It may be possible a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object which has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How can we prevent the spread of COVID-19?
To help prevent the spread of all viruses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  • Staying home if you are sick
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Thoroughly washing your hands 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.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Disinfecting surfaces and objects using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe

Should we wear facemasks to prevent COVID-19?
The CDC does not recommend people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a health care professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community:

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Wear a facemask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms

What do I do if I think I have been exposed to COVID-19?
If you are concerned you have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact your health care provider. They will assess your symptoms and ask about your recent travel history. Please call your health care provider before going in.

At Van Diest Medical Center, we are following guidance provided by the CDC and Iowa Public Health Department to screen patients for symptoms including fever and respiratory signs as well as the patient’s travel history and exposure to those who have traveled.

If a person is found to have symptoms and travel history, Van Diest Medical Center colleagues will isolate the patient and alert the Iowa Department of Public Health to coordinate testing.

If you begin to experience symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, call your primary care provider before coming in.

Additional Information
If you have general questions on COVID-19, please dial 2-1-1. For the latest CDC guidelines, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

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