What is Coronavirus Disease 2019?
The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This virus was not previously known to cause human illness until the recent outbreak. It is believed that the virus was initially transmitted to humans from a wild animal. Human-to-human transmission is now the most common route of transmission.
How does COVID-19 spread?
As with any viral respiratory illness, COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small respiratory droplets, which are dispersed with a person with the virus coughs or sneezes and are then inhaled by another person. These droplets can also land on objects and surfaces around the infected person. Other people then catch the virus by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?
Based on CDC guidelines, if you think you have COVID-19 and are experiencing minor symptoms, Emergency Hospital Systems recommends you self-quarantine at home for at least 14 days and consult with your healthcare provider. For severe symptoms, call your local Emergency Center prior to arriving or dial 911 if you need emergency care.
How can I be tested for COVID-19?
There are a limited number of COVID-19 test kits available nationwide. To determine who gets tested for the virus, Emergency Hospital Systems follows Public Health guidelines, which includes evaluating for relevant symptoms, travel history and potential exposure. If you suspect you may have COVID-19, please consult with a healthcare provider.
Will taking Tamiflu help me protect myself from getting COVID-19?
No, Tamiflu will not protect you from getting the novel coronavirus. Tamiflu is a drug to treat the flu, not a vaccine. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers internationally have been working to develop antivirals, but at the present time, there is no specific treatment or vaccine.
Should I be concerned about contracting the Coronavirus?
If you are not in an area where the coronavirus is spreading, or if you have not traveled from one of those areas or have not been in close contact with someone who has and is feeling unwell, your chances of getting the novel virus are currently low.
Is it safe to receive mail from any areas with confirmed cases of Coronavirus?
Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is extremely low and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, traveled and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also extremely low.
How does COVID-19 compare to other Coronaviruses?
There are several common coronaviruses that typically cause respiratory illness, like the common cold. Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild infection to severe respiratory illness.
What is Emergency Hospital Systems doing to prevent the potential spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to patients, visitors and physicians?
To further protect the health of our patients, workforce and the community, and prevent the potential spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Emergency Hospital Systems is modifying its visitor policy, effective Thursday, March 12, until further notice. Visitation hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Who may I contact with questions on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) when my physician is not available?
If you have questions regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Houston Health Department call center is available weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. They will also return voice messages left after hours on the following day. Individuals can call the center at 832-393-4220 and talk to department staff to obtain information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Similar to many viral respiratory illnesses, the symptoms of the virus mimic the common code and include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may appear between two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Also be mindful that we are in flu season and pollen counts are high, so there are many other causes for upper respiratory symptoms that are much more common than COVID-19.
How do I protect myself from getting COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent the spread of germs is proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Below are some other tips:
- 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 perform hand hygiene immediately.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
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.
What happens if I test positive for Coronavirus?
If a patient is confirmed with COVID-19, the decision to hospitalize the patient or recommend self-quarantine will be made in consultation with healthcare providers
How long does COVID-19 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. If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.
How is Emergency Hospital Systems protecting patients, visitors and staff from Coronavirus?
Emergency Hospital Systems continues to take proactive steps to protect our employees, physicians, patients and community by implementing a workforce protocol based on CDC guidelines. This protocol includes screening members of our workforce who have traveled to affected areas, per the CDC, within the applicable time period, or who have had contact with someone who is under investigation for COVID-19 or has been confirmed with the virus. Based on screening results, we will then provide information or immediate next-level care or mandatory leave for employees for up to 14 days, as necessary.
What is Emergency Hospital Systems doing to screen for COVID-19 and prevent exposure?
Emergency Hospital Systems workforce has been trained to identify, isolate and treat individuals with infectious diseases, including COVID-19. EHS has isolation policies and rooms designated to appropriately and effectively care for these patients while safeguarding others from exposure. In addition, our clinicians and physicians who provide direct patient care to affected individuals, have been trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including gown, gloves, face shield and a mask. Historical outbreaks of other infectious diseases, such as swine flu, Ebola and Zika, have strengthened Emergency Hospital Systems ability to respond to infectious disease situations in terms of readiness and preparedness.
Does Emergency Hospital Systems have the resources to handle a large COVID-19 outbreak?
Emergency Hospital Systems is actively partnering with city, county and health department officials, as well as other medical institutions in our surrounding areas, to coordinate efforts and ensure our community stays safe and healthy.