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Sharp Health News

5 things you need to know about COVID-19

March 6, 2020

5 things you need to know about COVID-19
The coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 continues to be top of mind for many, as well as at the top of each news cycle. While the number of cases changes daily, there are a few facts about COVID-19 and how you can protect yourself and loved ones that remain the same.

It is important to recognize that most people with coronavirus disease will experience mild respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold. However, COVID-19 can cause severe illness and, in some cases, lead to death.

Here are five more things you should know about the novel coronavirus and how to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  1. Wash your hands frequently.
    Proper hand-washing remains one of the most effective illness prevention techniques. Use soap and water, and wash for at least 20 seconds before eating, after using the restroom and after coming in contact with multiuse surfaces. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  2. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    COVID-19 is a new disease, making it impossible for cleaning product companies to claim that their products are effective against it. However, we know that antibacterial sprays and wipes, particularly those from brands such as Lysol© and Clorox©, can protect against common viruses, such as the cold and flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using these household cleaning wipes and sprays to clean frequently touched hard surfaces and commonly used objects, such as toys, remotes and digital devices.

  3. Practice social distancing, cover your face and stay home if you are sick.
    There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but you can play a key role in helping prevent illness. The CDC recommends that you avoid close contact with people who are not members of your household, especially those who are sick, by maintaining a distance of six feet. You should also stay home if you are sick and always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you are not sick and leaving your home, guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) encourages the use of face coverings in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

  4. Get your information from experts.
    The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) offer continuously updated information on their websites related to the new coronavirus, how it spreads, its prevention and current cases in the U.S. and worldwide. The CDC and U.S. Department of State also offer recommendations on postponing or canceling travel, based on an assessment of the potential health risks involved with traveling to certain areas. The Department of Homeland Security offers a list of what supplies you should have on hand in case you become ill or there is a community outbreak. This includes a two-week supply of food and water; prescription drugs; and over-the-counter medications, such as those that relieve cold and flu symptoms.

  5. Maintain your overall health.
    There’s no guarantee that overall good health will prevent you from getting sick, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of illness and improve your quality of life. These include following a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, fish, and healthier fats such as olive oil and nuts; staying hydrated; maintaining a healthy body weight; getting 30 minutes of exercise every day; managing your stress; and maintaining a healthy sleep routine.
Experts stress that patients in the U.S. who experience symptoms of COVID-19 — fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, body aches, muscle pain, fatigue, runny nose and/or sneezing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, headache, loss of smell and taste, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and or vomiting — should also be concerned about the flu, which can share similar symptoms. Like COVID-19, the flu can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory problems, so medical attention should be sought immediately if you experience trouble breathing.

Talk to your doctor if you or a loved one have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or is being evaluated for, COVID-19 or if you are experiencing fever and cough or difficulty breathing.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor, urgent care, emergency room or other health care provider if you have these symptoms. Your provider will work with the public health department and CDC to determine whether you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Looking for ways to support our caregivers? Donate to the Sharp COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Your contribution will help supply medical teams with needed resources as they respond to this crisis in our community.

This story was updated on June 17, 2020.

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