It’s always scary when there is a new virus making its rounds, especially when that virus seems to spread as quickly as the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2. The disease caused by this virus is termed “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). As of March 12, 2020, there are 35cases in the state of Florida, although this number is likely to increase as more tests are processed. Many events and large gatherings have been postponed or canceled. Although there is cause to take extra precautions, there is no need to panic. Here is what you need to know to be prepared and what you should do if you have symptoms.
The best way to avoid COVID-19 is with prevention. Here are some things you can do to help prevent and slow the spread of the virus:
- Avoid shaking hands.
- Make sure that your hands are washed thoroughly (at least 20 seconds) after you use the restroom, before you touch food, and anytime that your hands may have come into contact with germs. If you cannot wash your hands, you can use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Stay home if you are sick unless you need medical care
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Avoid large gatherings and people who are sick.
- If you can avoid travel, please do so, especially international travel. If you do travel to an area that is experiencing COVID-19, contact your doctor or local health department to see if you need to isolate yourself for a period of time.
Signs and Symptoms
There are several signs and coronavirus symptoms that you should watch for. The most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
These symptoms can also be seen with other respiratory viruses, such as influenza. If you have been exposed to coronavirus or you have symptoms that could be associated with the virus, you should call your doctor, or 911 if it is a medical emergency. It is very important to call before showing up to a clinic and potentially exposing other patients and healthcare workers. Also, some clinics may not be able to test for COVID-19. Your doctor can discuss your symptoms and refer you to the best place for testing if indicated. Influenza and other common viral illnesses are also circulating in Florida, and your doctor may recommend testing for these viruses as well.
Most young and healthy patients will recover without serious complications. Those who are at highest risk for complications are patients greater than 65 years of age, patients with chronic medical conditions such as chronic lung disease including asthma, and patients who are immunocompromised.
This situation is changing rapidly. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and your community, visit the Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.