The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an emerging and evolving situation in the United States. While the immediate health risk is currently low for the general American public who are unlikely to have been exposed to the virus, it is important to be prepared for the potential spread of the virus.
Be prepared with these precautions:
- Avoid non-essential travel to countries or areas where cases of the coronavirus have been identified. Find up-to-date COVID-19 information for travelers on the CDC’s website.
- Wash your hands frequently to prevent exposure to the virus. Just like any other virus, germs can be spread by touch. If you are using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol for best results.
- Disinfect surfaces that are used by others. COVID-19, like many other viruses, is thought to live on surfaces from several hours up to a few days. This can lead to exposure to the virus by touching the infected surface and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth. Wash your hands after disinfecting surfaces.
- Equip your home with basic medical supplies, including: Thermometer — It is important to be able to monitor your temperature if you start to develop cough or other symptoms of a virus. Get a thermometer from your local pharmacy and make sure it is working properly. Over-the-counter remedies to treat symptoms — This should include fever and pain reducers (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen), as well as cough medications. Fluids — Keep plenty of water and electrolyte replacements on hand.
- Discuss postponement of non-essential medical procedures with your doctor.
- Consider alternative child care options if daycares and schools were to close.
- Talk to your employer about their plan if an outbreak occurs in your local area, including remote work and office closures.
- Purchase water and food supplies that can last for more than two weeks. In the event of local spread, stores may be closed temporarily.
- Make sure you have up to a 3-month supply of any prescription medications you are taking at home. Reach out to your doctor to request refills or an extra supply for chronic medications.
- Use a mask if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have a suspected COVID-19 infection with mild symptoms, or are caring for someone with a suspected COVID-19 infection.
- If you are feeling sick, consider using a virtual care provider instead of going in-person to an urgent care facility or emergency room to limit your exposure to others who may have the virus.
Visit the Doctor On Demand website to take a coronavirus risk assessment and learn more.
About the author
Dr. Kristin Dean is a Family Practice Physician who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Nutritional Sciences. She continued her loyalty to the ‘Gator Nation’ and completed her medical school education at the University of Florida College of Medicine in 2010. Dr. Dean then moved to Los Angeles to complete her training in Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Dean considers healthcare to be a team approach, with the patient being the captain of the healthcare team. Although she considers a healthy lifestyle to be the starting point for all healthcare plans, she uses medicine, empathy and education to continue to improve her patient’s health.