What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a virus strain, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, that has only spread in people since December 2019.

Health experts are closely monitoring the situation because little is known about this new virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.

How does COVID-19 spread and what are the symptoms?

COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets. That means to become infected, you generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets. It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, diarrhea and shortness of breath.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

If you have:

  • Cough and,
  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher and
  • Traveled to China, South Korea, Italy, or Iran or are concerned that you have been exposed through other contact and
  • Do NOT have difficulty breathing

You should:

Stay at home in isolation. Rest, stay hydrated, and use over-the-counter medication as needed for fever. If you have questions, contact Greater Regional’s Help Desk at (641) 782-1194* to see if we can perform a screening over the phone to limit exposure.If you have:

  • Cough and
  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher and
  • Traveled to an area at-risk for COVID-19 per the CDC Travel Advisories and
  • Do NOT have difficulty breathing, but have flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, COPD, asthma, are immunocompromised, or have concerns to discuss with a nurse

You should:Call our Greater Regional Help Desk at (641) 72-1194*. 

If you have: 

  • Cough and
  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher and
  • Traveled to an area at-risk for COVID-19 per the CDC Travel Advisories or are concerned that you have been exposed through other contact and
  • DO have difficulty breathing

You should:

Contact our Greater Regional Help Desk right away at (641) 782-1194* and let us know you will be coming in for care.

PREVENTION

Is there a vaccine?

Currently, there is no vaccine available.

How can I best protect myself?

Know How it Spreads

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. 
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet.)
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Wash Your Hands Often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid Close Contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Stay Home if You’re Sick

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. 

Cover Coughs and Sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Wear a Facemask if You Are Sick

  • If you are sick:  You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. Please head to registration to get a mask. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
  • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and Disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Are pregnant women at a higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s not yet known whether pregnant women are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 or are likely to have more severe symptoms, compared with individuals of a similar age and health status, who aren’t pregnant. However, it’s still important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses. 

I have a chronic condition that puts me at high risk. How can I best protect myself?

Unfortunately, there is not yet a vaccine that can prevent COVID-19, so we cannot prevent the disease.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new, so we don’t yet understand exactly how it impacts specific groups of high-risk people. But, those who are thought to be most susceptible to serious complications of COVID-19 include people who:

  • Are over age 65.
  • Have cancer.
  • Have hypertension.
  • Have lung disease.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have heart disease.
  • Have another condition that compromises the immune system.
  • Are taking medications that suppress the immune system.

Should I wear a face mask? Will that protect me?

If you are sick: You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a face mask if they enter your room.

If you are not sick: You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask). Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

CHILDREN

What is the risk of my child becoming sick with COVID-19?

Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. You can learn more about who is most at risk for health problems if they have COVID-19 infection on CDC’s current Risk Assessment page.

How can I protect my child from COVID-19?

You can encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.

  • Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing)
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
  • Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

While school’s out, can my child hang out with their friends?

The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. While school is out, children should not have playdates with children from other households. If children are playing outside their own homes, it is essential that they remain 6 feet from anyone who is not in their own household.

Avoid large and small gatherings in private places and public spaces, such a friend’s house, parks, restaurants, shops, or any other place. This advice applies to people of any age, including teens and younger adults. Make sure children practice everyday preventive behaviors, such as washing their hands often with soap and water. Remember, if children meet outside of school in bigger groups, it can put everyone at risk.

Information about COVID-19 in children is somewhat limited, but current data suggest children with COVID-19 may only have mild symptoms. However, they can still pass this virus onto others who may be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions.

While school’s out, how can I keep my family healthy?

Watch your child for any signs of illness.

  • If you see any sign of illness consistent with symptoms of COVID-19, particularly fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider and keep your child at home and away from others as much as possible. Follow CDC’s guidance on “What to do if you are sick.”

Watch for signs of stress in your child.

  • Some common changes to watch for include excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration. For more information, see the “For Parents” section on CDC’s website, Manage Anxiety and Stress.
  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Go to CDC’s Helping Children Cope with Emergencies or Talking with Children About COVID-19 for more information.

Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.

  • Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
  • Be a good role model-if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same.
  • Make handwashing a family activity.

Help your child stay active.

  • Encourage your child to play outdoors-it’s great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride.
  • Use indoor activity breaks (stretch breaks, dance breaks) throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused.

Help your child stay socially connected.

  • Reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats.
  • Write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit.
  • Some schools and non-profits have resources for social and emotional learning. Check to see if your school has tips and guidelines to help support social and emotional needs of your child.

APPOINTMENTS & ACCESS

I have an appointment at Greater Regional and I am concerned about COVID-19. Should I cancel my appointment?

We are taking necessary precautions on behalf of our patients, visitors and caregivers.

We are also offering virtual health as an option for our primary clinics.

We are closely monitoring this evolving situation and our clinicians are meeting regularly to continue to prepare.

If you have a fever, cough, diarrhea or shortness of breath, or are otherwise concerned you have COVID-19, we ask that you do not come to any Greater Regional Health facility without calling ahead or calling our help desk. Patients will then be evaluated to determine if they require being seen in person or if they meet CDC guidelines for testing for COVID-19 based on symptoms, travel and exposures.