COVID-19 Questions Answered

Coronavirus. COVID-19. However you refer to this virus, it’s taking over everyone’s life in some way or another. This virus has upended not only our towns, states, and country, but also our world. Schools are closed. People are working from home. Sports seasons are canceled. While we have the internet at our fingertips, sometimes the amount of information can be overwhelming. Let’s break it down a bit…

COVID-19: What is it?

Simply put, this is a new coronavirus. There are many coronaviruses that exist – but this one, labeled COVID-19, is new. This strain causes a respiratory illness (similar to the flu) and there are currently no vaccines is available. While most people who have coronavirus have few or mild symptoms, some develop increased difficulty breathing and require hospitalization. Unfortunately, we know that there are those that experience respiratory distress that requires intubation/ventilator support.

What are the symptoms?

The general consensus is that the incubation period is 2-14 days after exposure. This means you can catch the virus from someone who is asymptomatic. Most report initial symptoms of fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Since many are not showing any initial symptoms and may not feel sick, this virus can easily spread. This is why many towns & states have mandated social distancing and shelter in place orders.

Flatten the Curve? What does this mean?

What is the point of all this social distancing & shelter in place? The quick answer is that it will help “flatten the curve” when people contract the virus. Flatten the curve means that instead of everyone getting sick at once, we decrease the rate of transmission and spread out the timeframe of those catching the virus. This allows there to be enough medical staff, hospital beds, and supplies available to take care of those who are hospitalized. If everyone becomes sick at once, we just do not have the resources to take care of everyone. This could simply cost someone their life.

If we can delay (or even prevent) transmission by staying at home, this gives the virus less opportunity to move from one person to the next. By doing this we spread out those who are affected and hopefully have the resources and manpower to care for them all.

What can you do to prevent catching the virus?

There are three easy things you can do to help prevent the spread of Covid-19:

Wash your hands. This cannot be stressed enough – the simple act of washing for 20 seconds with soap and water can reduce your chances of transmitting the virus. Every time you leave the house. Before you eat. After you eat. After using the washroom. Each time you return home. Please, wash those hands.

Social Distancing. This means when going out and about (only for necessary trips), keep a distance of 6 feet between you and others. Try to limit any closer contact to under 10 minutes.

Stay Home. Some states have mandated shelter in place orders and requiring all non-essential workers to stay home. Working at home has become highly encouraged or even mandatory in some areas. Schools are closed and transitioning to online. College classes are online. Restaurants are closed, but many places still allow for carry-out orders. Grocery stores, gas stations, banks are all to remain open, however many have adjusted hours.

Staying home does not include socializing with friends, neighbors, or hanging out in groups. While some feel this is unreasonable, especially if they are lower risk, we have seen in other countries (such as Italy) if such extreme measures are not taken, lives are lost.

What do I do if I have Covid-19?

Today, the testing available in the United States is very scarce. Most larger hospital systems may have the ability to test, but have limited tests available. Because of this, testing is usually limited to those who need to be hospitalized to help direct treatment plans.

If you suspect you might have Covid-19, the first thing you should do is call your doctor. You should be instructed to only go to the emergency room if you were to experience increasing difficulty with breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, confusion, or uncontrolled fever. Your doctor’s office should discuss how you should care for yourself and what you should do while at home.

To help reduce the chance of transmission to other patients or to healthcare workers, most people with (or suspected) Covid-19 will remain at home to recover. There are no medications that can be taken to cure this virus. Rest, control fever with acetaminophen, monitor breathing & respiratory status while the virus runs it course is all you can do while at home. Use the same prevention methods mentioned above to help avoid transmitting the virus to others in the home.

Most doctor offices are canceling all routine appointments. They are asking you to call first before heading to the doctor to discuss symptoms you might have. Many hospitals have canceled any elective surgery or procedures. This will allow hospitals to have the staff, resources, and beds available if a surge of Covid-19 patients occurs.

What does the future hold?

If only we could somehow give a date on when this will all be over. But we can’t. Countries across the world have been affected by this virus since middle to late February and it is still very active and unpredictable. There are too many factors that will determine when this pandemic is over. It’s just too early to project when “normal” will return.

Hopefully, all our efforts will make an impact. Our time apart will hopefully remind us to cherish our time together. Families will also be together more in these next few weeks, more than they have been in probably quite some time. If you are able to stay at home, please make the effort to do so. The reality is that many will become sick, and many will fight for their lives. Some won’t survive.

Every first responder, emergency department, nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, and doctor are preparing themselves and their families for a very uncertain next couple of weeks and months. Please take the time to make the changes to help yourself and your family, but also help make it easier on the lives of those taking care of the sickest patients during this pandemic.

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Nursing Decoded

Nursing decoded was created to share, educate, and collaborate with EVERYONE (patients, caregivers) and aspiring nurses, students, care technicians, nurses, APN's, and all medical providers. We have over 50 years of experience in medicine and have climbed the ladder through this amazing profession. Medicine and nursing is often complicated, exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, loving, and passionate. As Nurse Practitioners, we want to engage and educate people, patients and providers on how to decode, interpret, and navigate our healthcare world through the viewpoint of nursing. Our goal is to provide a consistent, easily accessible resource that clearly outlines, educates and informs on various topics of healthcare to help them interpret, decode and navigate their healthcare world.

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Jill DeMasi

    Thanks for explaining all this! Best thing to do is stay home and we can all be safe. Stay well!

  2. Hillari

    This is a great ‘all-in-one’ resource! My husband is a nurse as well, and I know many people have turned to him, asking about some additional information regarding the virus. This post will help so many people – thank you so much for writing it!

  3. Debbie

    Trying to do my part. Working at home. Pray this is behind us soon. Stay well!

  4. Lisa Manderino

    This is great information! I think we all want a date but these tips will help that date come sooner!

  5. Diane Kurzava

    Well explained in a non-hysterical manner. Very much appreciated!

  6. Sandi

    Thank you, so glad we may be have medicine now to treat it.

  7. Adrienne

    Thanks for the great info. I really just want this to be over with….I’m staying home with my kids, got laid off from my full-time job at a small law firm. I’m really hoping we can all bounce back from this financially.

  8. Holly

    This is going to be a life changing virus…Hopefully your readers will listen your suggestions and realize this is serious… Thank you for sharing your knowledge and advice!

  9. Jennifer

    I stay at home, and only do essential shopping and doctors when I need to.

  10. Debbi H

    Great information, thank you! We have been staying home for a week now, other than an occasional walk where no one else is around. While it is a challenge at times (I missed my family that lives elsewhere!), I agree that it is necessary. My heart and prayers go out to the many who are still on the front lines fighting this. Be safe!

  11. jen

    nice article. there is a lot of crap out there. keep it simple and straight forward is good. thank you

  12. Erica

    A great, informative read! Thank you!

  13. Suzan | It's My Sustainable Life

    Thank you for your thoughts on this devasting virus. Being one with an autoimmune issue, we are staying put as much as possible. Common sense strategies & remaining positive are key for us.

  14. Kendra

    Thanks for this factual resource! Great, helpful information!

  15. Jason Gowin

    Thank you for all of this wonderful information. It is difficult to trudge through all of the misinformation and opinion out there to get the actual facts. I commend your approach!

  16. Lina

    Thanks for this informative post! I am a nurse and have to go into work along with the many essential workers. The best thing everyone else can do is stay home and practice social distancing.

  17. Jaci

    Thank you for sharing information!

  18. April Key C. Rode

    What a detailed article and you explained it right and towards the end, only God knows when this will end. I just hope people pray and won’t be stubborn so that we can all end this pandemic faster. Thank you.

  19. Sydney

    We can all help and stay home! Thank you for sharing this information

  20. Noelle

    Thank you for this informative breakdown of COVID-19 It’s so good I’m having my oldest son read it to help him understand what’s going on.

  21. Liz

    Thank you for sharing all of this helpful information!

  22. Lisa

    Thank you providing so many good facts…we need this now!

  23. Kimberlie

    It is very important at this time to have trustworthy and non sensationalized information. Thank you for the sound information and advice on Covid-19.

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