Preparation/Prevention

***all updates below are as of May 19, 2020, 3:00 PM

HOW IT SPREADS

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

  • COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

SYMPTOMS

  • Call your doctor:  If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

  • Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

  • The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Chills

  • Repeated shaking with chills

  • Muscle pain

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include
    •  Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    •  Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    •  New confusion or inability to arouse
    •  Bluish lips or face
    •  This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

  • Remember the three Ws if you must leave home:
    • Wear a face covering
    • Wait 6 feet apart from others
    • Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds
  • Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
     

  • Clean your hands often

    •    Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

    •    If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

    •    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
       

  • Avoid close contact

    •     Avoid close contact with people who are sick

    •     Stay at home as much as possible.

    •     Put distance between yourself and other people 

      • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.

      • Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

 

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
    • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
    • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
      • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
    • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
    •  Throw used tissues in the trash.
    •  Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • Clean and disinfect
    •  Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    •  If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
    • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectant will work.
    • For more details on how to clean and disinfect, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html

 

IF YOU THINK YOU ARE SICK 

  • If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, you should take steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

  • Call your doctor:  If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
     

  • Stay home except to get medical care
    • Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
    • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated.
    • Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs, or if you think it is an emergency.
    • Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from other people and pets in your home
    • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a cloth face covering.
  • Monitor your symptoms
    • Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and cough. Trouble breathing is a more serious symptom that means you should get medical attention.
    • Follow care instructions from your healthcare provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
  • Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening or if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face
    • This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
    • Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
       
  • Call your doctor: 
    • Call ahead. Many medical visits for routine care are being postponed or done by phone or telemedicine.
    • If you have a medical appointment that cannot be postponed, call your doctor’s office, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.
  • Wear a facemask when sick: Put on a facemask before you enter the facility. These steps will help the healthcare provider’s office to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed.

  • Individuals without health insurance, who are not feeling well, should
    •  First, call your nearest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). If you feel you may have COVID-19, be sure to disclose that when you call to obtain an appointment. Note: FQHCs are community-based health care providers that receive federal funds to provide needed health services in communities across the state.
    •  If you are not able to be seen at an FQCH, call your local health department.
    •  If you are having a medical emergency, call 911 or call ahead then go to the Emergency Room.

 

TESTING (3/17/2020)

  • Individuals without health insurance, who are not feeling well, should:
        -Call your nearest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). If you feel you may have COVID-19, be sure to disclose that when you call to obtain an appointment. FQHCs are community-based health care providers that receive federal funds to provide needed health services in communities across the state.
        -If you are not able to be seen at an FQCH, call your local health department. Free and charitable clinics may also be able to provide assistance. A list of these resources, including contact information, is provided by the Office of Rural Health.
        -If you are having a medical emergency, call 911 or call ahead then go to the Emergency Room.

  • NCDHHS is working closely with local health departments, the State Laboratory for Public Health and health care providers to provide ongoing guidance for when testing is appropriate. 
  • If you have been tested for COVID-19, please talk to the provider or laboratory that performed the testing about when and how you will receive your test results. Your test results will not be available from NC 211.
  • The NC State Laboratory of Public Health and some commercial labs are conducting tests. CDC provides recommended criteria to guide decisions on testing, but health care providers are able to order COVID-19 testing for individuals as they see fit. 
  • For people with mild symptoms who don’t need medical care, getting a test will not change what you or your doctor do. Testing is most important for people who are seriously ill, in the hospital, people in high-risk settings like nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and healthcare workers and other first responders who are caring for those with COVID-19. 
  • Only those who meet the following criteria should ask their doctor or local health department about being tested for COVID-19: 
    • Have fever or lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days; OR
    • Have fever and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and a negative rapid flu test
       
  • For testing locations in North Carolina, visit https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/about/testing/collection-sites.pdf