Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Romans 12:13a
During the wake of the most recent pandemic, COVID-19, we hope you are staying strong, healthy and are also taking the proper precautions. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus strain spreading from person-to-person. It is currently in the United States and many other countries, after originating in China. Health experts are concerned because this new virus has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people — especially people over age 60 or who have weakened immune systems.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Health experts are still learning more about the spread. Currently it is thought to spread:
- through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
- between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
- by touching a surface or object with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes
Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, is a virus that appears to be spreading easily from person-to-person. It has the highest potential of being contracted if you are within six feet of an infected person or if respiratory droplets are inhaled when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. The virus may also have the potential to be spread by touching a contaminated surface and transferring the virus to your eyes, ears, mouth or nose. Coronavirus is believed to have an incubation period of 2-14 days and be most contagious when infected individuals are symptomatic, but it may also be spread by someone before they show symptoms.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- CDC does not recommend people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19
- Facemask should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others
- The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)
- 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 is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty
- Avoid nonessential travel (CDC Level 3 Travel Warning)
- For further information, please visit the CDC’s website (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- If you are traveling overseas, check for the latest COVID-19 Travel Alerts and follow the CDC’s Travelers’ Health guidance.
How severe is COVID-19?
Most coronavirus illnesses are mild with fever and cough. The vast majority of people with novel coronavirus infection do not require hospital care. A much smaller percentage of people get severely ill with lung and breathing problems like pneumonia. Elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions are at highest risk.
What are the symptoms?
People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus:
- Difficulty breathing
Symptoms of the virus can range from mild to severe and may include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms or if you think you have been exposed to coronavirus, you should first use your Insurance Telemedicine program feature to speak with a physician. Your Insurance Telemedicine telephone number is usually listed on your Medical Insurance membership card. If this is an emergency, seek medical attention at your nearest medical facility; CDC recommends for you to let the medical facility know you are in route and that you are showing coronavirus symptoms. Unlike the flu and some other viruses, coronavirus has no specific antiretroviral treatments, so it is imperative that you contact a physician to receive a diagnoses and supportive care and to prevent further spread of the virus.
When do I seek medical evaluation and advice?
If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have difficulty breathing, it doesn’t mean you have novel coronavirus, but you should call 911.
If you’re over 60 and you have underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, come up with a plan with your doctor to identify your health risks for coronavirus and how to manage symptoms. Contact your doctor right away if you do have symptoms.
How is COVID-19 treated?
There are no medications specifically approved for COVID-19. Most people with mild COVID-19 illness will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications. However, some cases develop pneumonia and require medical care or hospitalization.
Should I wear a face mask in public?
Public Health does not currently recommend that people wear masks when they are in public. Scientists are not sure whether wearing a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick. However, people who are sick should wear a mask in a healthcare setting (such as a waiting room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze.
Why do I see other people wearing face masks?
People wear masks for a variety of reasons, including to avoid pollen and air pollution, as a courtesy to others when they have the common cold, and for other cultural and even social reasons. This is an acceptable use of face masks.
If we see our friends, neighbors or other community members wearing a mask, we should not assume that they have been exposed to coronavirus or any other illness. We should avoid making assumptions about why someone is wearing a mask and make sure not to stigmatize or discriminate against people who choose to wear masks.
When should I seek testing for COVID-19?
Your healthcare provider will evaluate you to determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, remember to call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions about how to get care quickly while preventing exposure to others.
Are travelers being screened for COVID-19 at the airport?
Passengers returning to the United States who have been in mainland China within the previous 14 days will have a health screening by the CDC at eleven designated airports.
The airports to which all flights carrying passengers from China will be funneled are:
- SeaTac International Airport (SEA)
- John F. Kennedy (JFK)
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Daniel K. Inouye (HNL)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL)
- Washington Dulles (IAD)
- Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
- Detroit International (DTW)
- Newark Liberty Airport (EWR)
What is a quarantine and why is it used?
Quarantine is put into place to prevent the possible spread of an infectious disease from someone who may have been exposed to the disease but is not yet sick. When people are quarantined, they are kept separate from others until they are out of the period when they could get sick. During that time, health officials track their health so that if they do develop symptoms, they can get them to a healthcare provider quickly for evaluation, testing if needed, and care.
What is the current situation in Washington State and King County?
King County has confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and more cases have been identified in the U.S. Many of these cases are associated with a nursing facility in Kirkland, WA.
We expect that more cases will be identified now that testing for coronavirus has expanded at state health departments and the criteria used to determine if someone should be tested have broadened.
In King County, along with a number of other places around the U.S., some people who have tested positive for novel coronavirus did not have travel to countries where COVID-19 is spreading or have contact with a known case. This indicates that there is some spread happening in the community, although we don’t yet know how widespread it is in the community. We should expect that there will be more cases identified in the weeks to come.
This is a quickly changing situation. Check Public Health’s coronavirus page for frequent updates on the local situation and the Washington Department of Health’s website for daily updates for Washington state.
At ECWA, we are praying for the safety of our members, the wisdom of our country’s officials and the courage of our medical professionals and first responders. Should you be in need of prayer, your community of ECWA members are here to support you. Please contact us at https://www.ecwausa.org/contact-us/ to submit a confidential prayer request.
ECWA Editorial Board: Our editorial board or advisory board consists of a group of well published, prominent professors, with academic credentials and a detailed knowledge of their subject area.