Preparing for Novel Coronavirus
Now that Coronavirus has spread to the United States and there have been cases of community transmission, it’s important for our community to know how to be prepared and that Fisher-Titus has proactively taken action to be prepared and ready. Fisher-Titus is in regular contact with Huron County Public Health, Ohio Department of Health, CDC, and regional partners to assure a state of readiness.
In fact, on February 6 we implemented screening measures in accordance with public health and CDC recommendations at all our patient access points. This included plans for addressing symptoms, quarantine processes, and ways to keep our patients, guests, staff, and volunteers safe at the hospital, ambulatory offices, and for North Central EMS.
History of Coronavirus
Coronavirus has actually been around since the mid-1960s and are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are seven different types of coronavirus that typically give humans cold-like symptoms and some of those you may have heard of before including MERS and SARS. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals emerge to infect people and can spread between people, just like with our current coronavirus – Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread.
Symptoms of Coronavirus
Those who have contracted it have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, typically 2-14 days after exposure. These have been people who have traveled to China, Japan, Italy, Iran, and South Korea, as well as been in contact with others who have also traveled to these locations. If you have an international travel planned, it is best to check the up-to-date travel information from the Centers for Disease and Prevention. If you have traveled to any of the above-listed destinations and experience any of the symptoms, please call your health care provider or local hospital to seek guidance if it is not a medical emergency. Explain your symptoms, travel history, and any additional exposure you may have had. Do not visit your health care provider without calling first to help reduce exposure to others.
Reducing the risk
As with any illness the best way to reduce your risk is to follow a few simple steps including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Cover coughs/sneezes with your arm or a tissue.
- Avoid exposure to others who are at risk. Stay home if you are sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a variety of tips on how to protect yourself and the community.
There are many ways you can prepare your household in the case of an outbreak in our area. The Ohio Department of Health has created a Household Checklist with a variety of great tips, including:
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
- Keep an adequate supply of water, food, and pet food in your home. If you take prescription drugs, contact your health care provider, pharmacist, or insurance provider about keeping an emergency supply at home.
- Keep a working thermometer and respiratory medications, like decongestants, expectorants, and analgesics (ibuprofen, acetaminophen), on hand.
- Get a flu shot this season if you haven’t already. It won’t protect against COVID-19, but it can help protect against flu or lessen symptoms if you get it, lessening the strain on health care facilities.
The best thing to do is remain calm, take preventative and precautionary measures, and use credible sources such as the CDC, local health department, and the Ohio Department of Health for updates.