Coronavirus COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Published on March 04, 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that seems to easily spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets or by contact with an infected surface or object. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. They include:  fever, cough, shortness of breath.

“Though COVID-19 is a serious matter, people should not panic. It’s important to take precautions, such as proper hand hygiene, to help prevent COVID-19 and other viruses from making you sick. As a whole, Bronson is adequately prepared should COVID-19 arise in our communities, and we are keeping a close watch on everything as things progress,” says Richard Van Enk, Ph.D., Bronson director of infection prevention and epidemiology.

How is Bronson prepared for COVID-19?

Bronson is doing everything recommended by the CDC to prepare for COVID-19. There are some similarities with our preparations and precautions  for SARS, Ebola, MERS, H1N1 influenza, and Zika so we have good plans in place for these types of situations. Bronson has a team that discusses prevention and preparation each day and monitors the latest information from the CDC. The team includes emergency preparedness members from each of our four hospitals, system infection prevention personnel and Bronson practice management. Our team is also working with state, regional and county leaders to prepare.

Bronson also monitors our supply inventory to make sure there are enough supplies should there be a shortage due to an interruption in the supply chain.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, Bronson screens sick patients for travel history or connection with someone who recently arrived from the source areas, and we have protocols to isolate and treat suspected patients safely.

What can you do to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and other viruses like the flu?

  • Handwashing: Using soap and water wash for at least 20-30 seconds. If you are using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, make sure to thoroughly cover all surfaces on your hands and let dry. Both options are equally effective.
  • Avoid touching your face: It’s estimated the average person touches their face at least once every two minutes. It’s especially important to avoid the T-Zone - your eyes, nose and mouth. That’s where viruses enter and leave your body.
  • Social distancing: If you are going to an area where there are other people, avoid those who are sick. Stay home if you are sick; cover your cough.
  • Facemasks: For the general public, facemasks are recommended only for those who are sick.
  • Immunizations: While there is not a vaccine for coronavirus yet, it’s still important to keep up-to-date on all your immunizations, including the annual influenza vaccine.
  • Follow Travel Guidelines: The CDC regularly posts travel restrictions and guidelines based on disease outbreaks, special events and natural disasters. Be sure to consult those guidelines before travel. These can change frequently as COVID-19 spreads. Take note that if you do travel to some countries, you may be required to be quarantined upon your return. Click here for CDC Travel Health Notices.

 

What are the signs and symptoms of coronavirus and COVID-19 infection?

Human coronaviruses infect the nose, throat and sinuses and cause cold-like symptoms: runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, and sometimes a low-grade fever. The two symptoms that are most common in COVID-19 patients are fever and lower respiratory disease (cough, shortness of breath). These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Learn more about symptoms from the CDC.

What to do if you have symptoms? 

Contact your Bronson provider via telephone or Bronson MyChart. You can also consult a doctor through a BronsonConnect Video Visit. Keep in mind that many viruses, such as the flu, have similar symptoms . Your healthcare provider will guide you on next steps. If you’re not sure what to do, call (269) 341-7788 and a Bronson Care Advisor can help.

Be sure to stay home, if possible, to avoid infecting other people. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow and then immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer and dispose of used tissues. Learn more from the CDC.

The hospital is intended for those who are very sick. You should not go to the hospital if you are only mildly ill. If warning signs of complications appear, you should go to the emergency room. Those signs include: trouble breathing, bluish skin color, unable to eat or drink, unresponsive, sudden dizziness, confusion, or flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return.

How serious is COVID-19 infection?

There are a couple ways to answer this question. One aspect is how contagious it is; how easily is it spread from person to person. Another way is to measure the mortality rate, how many infected people die of their infection. Older adults and those who are immunocompromised are at greatest risk. It is too soon to have good data on the COVID-19 epidemic, but it appears that the transmission and mortality rates are similar to that of seasonal influenza. That is a helpful way to look at COVID-19, because both are respiratory viruses that can cause pneumonia.

Who is most at risk?

Older adults and those with chronic diseases and compromised immune systems.

Click here for information about COVID-19 if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

I was told once that I had coronavirus, are all coronaviruses COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses, some of which infect humans and other types infect various other animals. Human coronaviruses are common and they cause upper respiratory infections that are usually not serious. They are described as common cold viruses that cause mild symptoms. COVID-19 is a different strain of coronavirus and is not the same as ordinary human coronavirus.

Are there treatments or vaccines for COVID-19 infection?

There are no FDA-approved drugs that treat coronaviruses or vaccines that prevent infection. There are some drugs being developed, but they have not been completely tested yet. Researchers are working on treatments and vaccines. We give hospitalized patients supportive care such as respiratory support, if needed, until their lungs recover from the infection.