5 things you need to know about novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
We know many of you have questions and concerns about COVID-19 in your community. Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness, so it is important to be informed about how to protect yourself and others.
Here are five things you need to know to keep yourself and others healthy.
1. Know the symptoms
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. COVID-19 has similar symptoms to the flu, which include coughing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing. For the most updated guidance, symptoms and information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
2. Know what to do if you get sick
Stay home when you are sick. If you have a fever over 100.4 degrees, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
A call to your provider, urgent care facility or our Virtual Care services would be the first step to begin evaluation of your symptoms. This will help them take care of you and keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
MultiCare’s clinical teams have been trained on how to identify, isolate and care for patients with COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses. We follow evidence-based guidelines for testing based on the CDC and other sources.
MultiCare is currently offering free e-visits for a limited time for anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms through our Virtual Care, where our providers will also help you navigate to the next appropriate step, if testing for COVID-19 is warranted.
If you are having difficulty breathing or a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department.
3. Know the process for COVID-19 testing
Not everyone who is sick needs to be tested for clinical care purposes. Anyone with a fever and cough should take steps to protect others in the community. If you are sick, you need to stay home. If you are sick and need to visit a health care provider, wear a mask and practice meticulous hand washing. The process for testing is as follows:
- MultiCare and your doctor will work with the public health department to determine when testing is necessary.
- We will direct you to a care site to collect the samples for testing.
- A care provider will take samples and talk to you about next steps.
- From there, we work with both commercial and state labs to facilitate the testing.
- If the test shows presence of the infection, the samples will be sent to the CDC for confirmation.
- Testing will have no co-pay. The Public Health Laboratory is not charging patients for these tests. On March 5, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency order to Washington state health insurers requiring them to waive copays and deductibles for any patient requiring testing for COVID-19
4. Know who is at higher risk for complications associated with COVID-19
Most people with COVID-19 do not have serious health problems. After seeing a care provider, most get better with rest and fluids. People who are very ill get care in a hospital setting with breathing help, IV fluids and other treatments.
According to the CDC, those over the age of 60 and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness.
Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. People of Asian descent are not more likely to get COVID-19. Help stop fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.
5. Know what you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Even if you are not at higher risk for complications associated with COVID-19, you can keep yourself and others safe by following basic CDC-recommended preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Practice social distancing by remaining home as much as possible and staying at least six feet away from other people if you do leave your home.
- Stay home when you are sick. If you have a fever over 100.4 degrees, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. View our helpful handwashing guide.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth in public.
We recognize the local situation continues to change. Please visit the special website we created to share the most updated information and answers to frequently asked questions, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Up-to-date information on COVID-19:
- Pierce County Department of Health
- King County Public Health
- Snohomish Health District
- Thurston County Public Health
- Kitsap Public Health District
- Spokane Regional Health District
- Panhandle Health District (Kootenai)
Additional resources also are available on MultiCare's website: COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus).
About The Author
MultiCare is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 team members, including employees, providers and volunteers. Learn more. More stories by this author