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COVID-19

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.

Emerging News - click HERE for links to a limited selection of stories about COVID-19 that we believe are most relevant to our community (updated regularly).

Resources

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

    • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

    • some people may also develop gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

  • 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. Click HERE for more information about cleaning contaminated surfaces.

  • What about face masks?

    • The CDC advises that healthy people who do not have symptoms of respiratory infection SHOULD NOT wear a face mask.

    • if you have symptoms of COVID-19, then self-quarantine. If you must go out (for example, to see your doctor), then DO wear a face mask to prevent spreading the virus to others.

    • Healthcare professionals who are treating sick patients SHOULD wear a face mask to minimize exposure to the virus and reduce their risk of getting infected. The US Surgeon General tweeted: Masks "are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

    • OUR MEDICAL STAFF DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING FACE MASKS (ESPECIALLY N95 MASKS). There is a nationwide shortage. Without this protective equipment, we are ALL at increased risk of infection--this includes our staff and the patients we care for. PLEASE HELP US BY DONATING ANY UNUSED N95 MASKS--call your doctor's office to find out how. THANK YOU!

  • 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 7 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

  • Is there a test for COVID-19?

    • Yes, but we are NOT currently offering COVID-19 testing.

    • Local health departments have a limited supply of tests. Some large hospital systems and academic centers are using their own in-house tests for COVID-19. Commercial labs like LabCorp and Quest have also developed their own tests, but these are in limited supply and turnaround time can be 4-7 days.  ​

    • There is a new FDA-approved rapid test for COVID-19, currently for hospital use only.

    • There are several new home-testing kits for COVID-19, but these are not yet available in our area. Please stay tuned. Click HERE to read more about home-testing.

  • Who should be tested for COVID-19?

    • People who have severe symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (breathing difficulty).​

    • If you think you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, but you do NOT have symptoms, or your symptoms are MILD, you should self-quarantine for 14 days, but you do NOT need to be tested. This is because supply of tests is limited, and the tests are more accurate (sensitive) in people with symptoms--up to one-third of people who have COVID-19 will actually have a FALSE NEGATIVE test result. 

    • 3/23/20 UPDATE from LA County Department of Public Health:

      • Routine community testing is no longer advised. 

      • Testing is only to be done when it will change medical management. 

      • Individuals with mild febrile respiratory illnesses who can be safely managed at home should NOT be tested for COVID-19 at this time. 

  • Are there any treatments for COVID-19?

    • at this time, we do not have any specific treatment/medication for COVID-19. The mainstay of treatment for most people is supportive (see "what do I do if I develop symptoms" above)​. Some people who become very ill may require hospitalization, and severe cases may require admission to an Intensive Care Unit and mechanical ventilation.

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

    • There is no vaccine currently available to prevent COVID-19. A number of pharmaceutical companies are working to develop one, but this process may take 12-18 months. 

  • 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 (1-2%) may die.

  • 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.

    • Click HERE for a graphic showing the breakdown for mortality rate by age (from early-stage analysis of data from China through Feb 11, 2020).

  • 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.

  • 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? 

    • In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, our offices are temporarily transitioning to "virtual/telemedicine visits" conducted by phone and/or secure video-conferencing platforms. Check FAQs for more information about telemedicine.

    • Patients with urgent medical issues can still be seen in select locations. For more information, please call your doctor's office or CLICK HERE.

Updated 3/26/2020