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

    • loss of sense of smell and taste

    • 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 has updated its recommendations regarding 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.

    • Please do NOT use a medical-grade (surgical or N-95) mask. These are reserved for medical personnel and other front-line workers. There is a nationwide shortage of N95 masks. If healthcare personnel do not have this necessary protective equipment to minimize exposure to the virus while treating patients, we are ALL at increased risk of infection--this includes our staff and the patients we care for.

    • OUR MEDICAL STAFF DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING FACE MASKS (ESPECIALLY N95 MASKS). 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

  • 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.

  • Is there a test for COVID-19? Yes, there are several types:

    • PCR test for COVID-19

      • this test uses a nasal or oral swab to collect a sample from the patient, the sample is then sent to a lab for analysis.

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

      • Test availability is still limited, and turnaround time can be 4-7 days.  ​

      • 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, you can schedule an appointment online through LA County's drive-through testing program (see "Where can I get tested" below)

    • Rapid PCR test - There are several new FDA-approved rapid PCR tests for COVID-19; at this time they are limited primarily to hospital. We anticipate that these will become more widely available in the next few weeks, and will post updates here when this happens.

    • At-home test - The first FDA approved test for COVID-19 that includes a home sample collection kit is now available through LabCorpPlease note, this test still needs to be sent to LabCorp, where it is run alongside tests collected through medical facilities. Other home-testing kits for COVID-19 were withdrawn from the market over concerns about accuracy of testing.

    • Antibody test - this is a blood test that 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, we do not know if the presence of these antibodies confers any protection or immunity, and if it does, we do not know how long this immunity lasts. There are additional concerns about the sensitivity and specificity of antibody testing. You can read more about this HERE.

  • Who should be tested for COVID-19?

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

    • If you think you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, but you do NOT have symptoms, you do NOT need to be tested. You SHOULD self-quarantine for 14 days, as symptoms can develop up to 2 weeks after exposure.

    • If you have MILD symptoms, you should self-isolate at home for 7 days PLUS 3 days after fever resolves and other symptoms improve (whichever is longer). You may be able to get tested, depending on test availability (see "Where can I get tested"). Please note: the PCR test detects only 50-65% of COVID-19 cases--so even if you test negative, you still need to follow the isolation guidelines.

    • If you have been exposed or have symptoms, AND belong to one of the following high risk categories, please call your doctor for information on how to get tested. High risk categories include:

      • nursing home residents

      • healthcare personnel or first-responders with symptoms and/or known exposure

      • people with underlying health conditions that may affect their immune system (heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, COPD, cancer, on immunosuppressants, etc)

  • Are there any treatments for COVID-19?

    • at this time, we do not have any specific treatment/medication for COVID-19 in the outpatient setting. The mainstay of treatment for most people is supportive (see "what do I do if I develop symptoms" above)​. People who are ill enough to require hospitalization may be eligible for enrollment in ongoing clinical trials of medications that are being evaluated for COVID-19 treatment.

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

    • In places that are hardest hit by COVID-19, where the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed, the death rate is significantly higher. [see "Why New York has been hit so hard by coronavirus"]

  • 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. For example, New York has been one of the hardest hit areas in the US, and its healthcare system is struggling to keep up; the mortality rate from COVID-19 in New York is 4.7%, significantly higher than anywhere else in the country. [Read more about this on CNN, 4/11/2020]

  • 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 5/11/2020

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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