On March 3, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a Public Health Emergency due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Florida. To date, there are 3 confirmed residents in the state of Florida who tested positive for COVID-19.
The Florida Department of Health is actively involved in enhanced surveillance for a respiratory illness that may be COVID-19. Epidemiologists will follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for COVID-19 to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases if they occur.
What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread 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.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
How is Coronavirus COVID-19 diagnosed?
Diagnosis occurs through laboratory testing of respiratory specimens and serum (blood). Some coronavirus strains cause the common cold and patients tested by their health care provider may test positive for these types. The COVID-19 strain can only be detected at a public health laboratory.
How is it treated?
There is no specific medicine to treat COVID-19 infection at this time, though studies are underway. People sick with COVID-19 should receive supportive care from a health care professional. Supportive care means care to help relieve symptoms (medicine to bring down fevers, or oxygen if a patient’s oxygen level is low).
What should you do to prevent illness?
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- 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. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. (kitchen counters, bathrooms, door handles, TV remote, cell phone)
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
– CDC does not recommend that people who are well, wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
– Facemasks 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 people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised people to stop using cash if possible as the paper bills may help spread coronavirus. Cash can carry bacteria or viruses.
How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
How likely am I to catch COVID-19?
For most people in most locations, the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low. However, there are now places around the world where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher. Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
Who is at risk?
- For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
- People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though, still relatively low risk of exposure.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with the virus are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Older people are more vulnerable to infections. They are more likely to have chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a lung condition), which can make them more vulnerable during outbreaks as well.
How can First Choice Neurology help me?
If you are a current patient who is not feeling well and are unable to make it to the office for your appointment, several practitioners at First Choice Neurology provide Telehealth or eHealth services.
We offer a free, secure, and easy-to-use app Healow, for our patients to communicate with their doctor remotely (from your home).
Contact your doctor to schedule a telehealth visit.
Is it safe to travel?
The CDC is recommending avoiding non-essential travel to highly affected areas and taking precautions in many other areas. Please refer to CDC’s travel health notices relative to COVID-19 at the following link: CDC Travel Health Notices. Travel throughout the US is currently considered safe.
Tips for traveling
Once you board the plane, wipe all hard around your seat and then sanitize your hands. This provides a double layer of protection from getting sick. A study published by reservations.com showed that nearly 20% of passengers have flown sick, and 19% of passengers don’t always wash their hands after using the airplane bathroom.
Remember the 3 W’s:
Wash your hands – Wash your hands before you board the plane. After you wipe all surfaces in your area, sanitize your hands. Purell or Germ-X wipes are convenient for travelers.
Window seat – Choose a window seat when you fly. You have less of a chance of picking up an infection from a fellow passenger. You are more likely to get sick if you have the aisle seat since passengers are always walking by you.
Wipe your tray, seat, and armrest – Clorox To Go travel disinfecting wipes kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, including staph, E. coli, MRSA, salmonella, strep, and Kleb. Use those wipes on the tray first, then other surfaces such as the armrest and seatback displays.
If you visit the bathroom on the plane, clean the latch. It’s the areas of high touch that are of the greatest concern because that is where you are more likely to pick up a germ that could make you ill.
Once you reach your destination, do not pay with cash. Use a credit or debit card.
Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel.
- Travelers returning from any country with a Travel Alert Level 3 should stay home and monitor their health for up to 14 days.
- Travelers returning from any country with a Travel Alert Level 2 are also encouraged to monitor their health but do not need to limit their movement or activity.
What if I recently traveled to an area affected by COVID-19 and got sick?
If you were in a country with a COVID-19 outbreak and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, within 14 days after you left, you should
- Seek medical advice – Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Do not travel on public transportation while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.