COVID-19

COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE

SMFP at 901 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica will be offering the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in strict adherence to CDC and government guidelines. We have no details yet as to date and scheduling, so please hold your phone calls and messaging at this time. Check back for updates and follow local news sources.   READ MORE HERE

While we will make every effort to update this page with new information as it becomes available, the situation is rapidly evolving and you should refer to the resources listed below for additional information on COVID-19.

 

Also, please note the information contained here is NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE, but is purely for educational purposes. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. For specific medical questions or concerns, please call your doctor.

Resources

COVID-19: tracking the spread

FAQs about COVID-19

  • What is COVID-19?

    • COVID-19 (short for "coronavirus 2019") is the term given to an illness caused by a novel type of coronavirus ​(SARS-CoV-2) that first emerged in December 2019 in the Wuhan province in China and spread across the world.

    • In March 2019, the World Health Organization called COVID-19 a pandemic because of the rapid spread of this infection to so many countries.

  • What are the symptoms? Symptoms of COVID-19 can come on suddenly, 2-14 days after a person is exposed to the virus. The following are common symptoms:​

    • high fever​

    • dry cough

    • loss of sense of smell and taste

    • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

    • fatigue

    • headache

    • gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

    • for more information on COVID symptoms, see the CDC website

  • How is the virus spread?

    • through respiratory droplets - when people cough, sneeze, talk, or breathe, they release respiratory droplets which contain the virus. These droplets can travel up to 6 feet and infect others, or settle on surfaces where the virus can live for days.​

    • by contact with contaminated surfaces - if someone who has COVID-19 touches or transmits respiratory droplets onto a surface such as a computer keyboard or doorknob, viral particles can live on these surfaces for days. If someone else touches that surface, then touches their face (eyes, nose, mouth), the virus is then transmitted to this new person.

  • What can I do to protect myself?

    • WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN! This helps to wash off ​the virus and reduce the spread of disease. You should lather and scrub your hands for 20 seconds and then rinse off. This video shows proper hand washing technique.

    • use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

    • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) unless you have just cleaned your hands.

    • Regularly clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home (tables, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface.

  • What about face masks?

    • Everyone is encouraged to wear a non-medical grade face mask in public settings. This is not instead of--but rather, in addition to--social distancing measures. The goal is to reduce the spread of coronavirus through respiratory droplets produced by people who are asymptomatic carriers (meaning they have coronavirus but don't show any symptoms). While cloth masks may not directly protect a non-infected person from getting infected, the masks can reduce the amount of virus that an infected person is spreading--so indirectly, wearing a mask when out in public can help us all. Masks also keep people from touching their faces, which helps cut down the risk of spreading (or catching) the virus. Non-medical face masks are readily available online, or you can make your own.

  • What if I am exposed to someone with COVID-19?

    • self-quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. You may end quarantine earlier if:​

      • you complete 10 days of quarantine and do not develop any symptoms​

      • you complete 7 days of quarantine AND at the end of the 7 days test for COVID test AND the COVID test is negative (meaning no COVID detected) 

    • You must restrict activities and limit all movements that may put you in contact with others during the quarantine period.

    • Click HERE for more information from the LA County Department of Public Health

  • What do I do if I develop symptoms? Click HERE for the latest CDC recommendations

    • if you have trouble breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room​

    • call your doctor for instructions.

    • Stay at home until you have had no fever for at least 72 hours AND at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared. During this time, you should:

      • Stay at least 6 feet away from others.

      • If you must leave your house to seek medical care, wear a mask

      • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze - then immediately discard the tissue and wash your hands.

      • wash your hand well and often.

      • disinfect shared surfaces

      • take over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) for fever

      • keeping well hydrated by drinking plenty of water

      • rest

  • How long do symptoms last? 

    • some people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms at all, but may still be able to spread the virus to others.

    • Most people (we think about 80%) will develop mild cold or flu-like symptoms and will recover within a week or two.

    • Some people ​who develop more severe illness may be sick for weeks.

    • Some people may have symptoms that linger even longer (weeks or months), including: fatigue, body aches, "brain fog", chest discomfort or shortness of breath. 

    • Some people (1-2%) may die.

  • How do you test for COVID-19? click here for infografic on covid tests

    • PCR test

      • tests for RNA (genetic material) from COVID-19 virus

      • uses a nasal or oral swab to collect a sample from the patient, the sample is then sent to a commercial lab (such as LabCorp or Quest) for analysis.

      • These tests are 50-65 % sensitive (meaning they fail to detect COVID19 infection in about 35-50% of cases).

      • Result turnaround time can be 2-7 days, depending on the volume of testing being done at the lab.

      • Local health departments, hospitals and academic centers, and commercial labs all use a version of this test.

      • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, and would like to be tested, call your doctor or schedule a telehealth consult with one of our physicians. You can also be evaluated at our Urgent Care -- no appointment needed!

      • Other facilities that may offer testing include select CVS pharmacies and LA County sites where you can schedule an appointment online (see "Where can I get tested" below)

      • Rapid PCR test - There are several rapid point-of-care PCR tests for COVID-19. These are primarily used for patients who have symptoms suggestive of COVID. Ask your doctor about which testing may be most appropriate for you.

    • Antigen test 

      • tests for proteins on the surface of the COVID-19 virus

      • uses a nasal or oral swab to collect a sample from the patient, the sample is then tested using a test kit or device at the point of care (eg at your doctor's office, urgent care, or at home)

      • results typically take under 1 hour

      • these tests are generally less accurate than COVID PCR tests​​

    • Antibody test -

      • checks for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Several days after a person gets infected, IgM antibody levels start to rise; IgG antibodies develop about 1-2 weeks later. By testing for antibodies, we can determine post-factum whether someone had COVID-19. However, studies suggest that in many people, these antibody levels decline within 2-6 months after someone gets infected with COVID.

      • this is a blood test; blood draw can be done at your doctor's office or at a commercial lab

      • turnaround time for result: 2-5 days

  • Who should be tested for COVID-19?

    • People who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.​

    • People who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Please note: it can take 5-7 days after exposure for someone to test positive. Testing earlier may result in a FALSE NEGATIVE result. Whether you choose to get tested or not, you SHOULD self-quarantine for 10-14 days, as symptoms can develop up to 2 weeks after exposure. Read more about self-quarantine guidelines HERE.

    • People who do not have symptoms but need to be screened prior to a medical procedure.

    • People who do not have symptoms or history of contact with someone who has COVID can also be tested if needed for work, school, or travel. Please talk with your doctor if you have questions about asymptomatic COVID testing/screening

  • Where can I get tested for COVID-19? 

    • At doctors' offices, many urgent cares, some pharmacies, and various county testing sites.

    • LA County is offering free testing to residents of Los Angeles - Click here for information and online scheduling

    • at home:

      • Home collection kits for COVID PCR testing - these are available for order online through several commercial laboratories, including La​bCorp/PixelQuest, and others. These kits allow you to collect a specimen sample (such as nasal swab) at home, and send the sample via expedited mail to a commercial lab that then runs the kit. Turnaround time can be several days, depending on the volume of testing the lab is doing. Most of these kits do NOT require a doctor's order.

      • Home rapid Antigen test - this is a kit you can purchase online or at a pharmacy for home use. It provides a result within 10-15 minutes, but may not be as sensitive as the PCR tests run through commercial laboratories. Some of these kits may require a doctor's prescription, others do not. 

    • Talk with your doctor about the best way/place for you to get tested. This may depend on your symptoms, history of exposure, and specific needs. 

  • Are there any treatments for COVID-19?

    • YES. Several treatments have been given Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. If you have tested positive for COVID and your symptoms started less than 1 week ago, please CALL YOUR DOCTOR to see if you are eligible for treatment. Read more about available/approved treatments on the CDC website.

    • The mainstay of treatment for most people with mild to moderate symptoms that do not require hospitalization is supportive (see "what do I do if I develop symptoms" above)​. 

    • Multiple studies are ongoing to test various medications for efficacy against COVID-19. (See "clinical trials" for more on this topic.)

  • Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

​​

  • How many people die from COVID-19?

    • Because we do not yet have a complete picture of how many people may be infected, it is hard to say what percentage of people will die from this infection. ​We are still gathering data, and these numbers will likely change as we get more information. 

    • The current estimate of death rate from COVID-19 is 1-2%. However, some people are at higher risk. This includes people over the age of 60 and anyone who has an underlying health condition that may compromise their immune system--for example, people with diabetes or lung disease or a transplant.

    • In places that are hardest hit by COVID-19, where the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed, the death rate is significantly higher. 

  • What does "flattening the curve" mean?

    • The "curve" refers to the speed with which COVID-19 spreads through a population. The faster this happens, the more people there are who require high levels of medical care (ER evaluation, hospitalization, ICU, etc). These healthcare resources are limited, and if too many people get sick too quickly, this may overwhelm the healthcare system's ability to care for them. 

    • "Flattening" this curve means slowing down the spread of infection, so even though the same number of people may get sick in the long run, the RATE at which people get sick is slowed, and this allows our healthcare system to keep up with demand. 

    • This graphic (courtesy of Medscape and the CDC) illustrates this point.

    • Flattening the curve may not change how many people get infected over time, but it has a huge effect on how quickly infection spreads through out communities, which in turn affects how many people will die from COVID-19. If infection spreads quickly and overwhelms our healthcare system's capacity to care for severely ill patients, more people will die. 

  • What is "social distancing" and why is it so important?

    • Social distancing is creating physical distance between people in an effort to slow down the spread of infection.​ This can be achieved through efforts of government, private industry, and individuals in some of the following ways:

      •  having people work remotely from home to avoid close contact with others in the workplace

      • closing schools and implementing strategies for "distance learning" (online)

      • avoiding/canceling non-essential gatherings of large groups. This includes closing down amusement parks and sports stadiums, canceling sporting events and concerts, etc.

      • avoiding non-essential travel (especially travel that puts large numbers of people into close contact, like on planes, cruise ships, etc.)

      • avoiding social gatherings like parties, playdates, etc.  This blog post by a Seattle physician illustrates this point: "Social distancing: This is not a snow day"

    • In order for social distancing to work, it's important that everyone participate to the extent of their ability.

​​

  • What are our offices doing in response to COVID-19? 

    • We are offering telemedicine visits conducted by secure video-conferencing platforms. Check FAQs for more information about telemedicine.

    • We are limiting the number of people in our offices and spacing out in-office appointments in order to observe social-distancing guidelines.

    • We have a universal masking protocol. Please wear a mask when you come to our offices.

    • We are cleaning and disinfecting high usage areas and surfaces in our offices frequently throughout the day, and disinfecting exam rooms and medical equipment in between patients.

Updated 1/9/2021

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

©2018-2021 BY SANTA MONICA FAMILY PHYSICIANS

  • SMFP on Facebook