Albemarle Regional Health addresses COVID-19

Published 6:25 pm Friday, March 13, 2020

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald reached out to Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) on Friday in regards to information and preventative measures for COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus).

ARHS, headquartered in Elizabeth City, serves and has local offices in Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties.

(Q) Briefly explain where and how this virus originated.

(A) Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Some coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause upper respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, although some can cause more serious illness. The 2019 novel (new) coronavirus causes the illness coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

(Q) How is the virus transmitted?

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); and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

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

(Q) How long can the virus survive on hard surfaces?

(A) 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.

(Q) What are its symptoms?

(A) Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. Persons who are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath and have visited an affected area or had close contact with someone who is suspected to be infected with COVID-19 in the past 14 days should seek immediate medical attention.

(Q) What should a person immediately do if they show those symptoms?

(A) Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or visit public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Clean and disinfect: Practice routine cleaning of high touch surfaces. Avoid sharing personal household items. Clean your hands often. Cover your coughs and sneezes

(Q) What is the typical length of a coronavirus quarantine?

(A) 14 days.

(Q) Are there any prescription medications or over-the-counter meds that can soften the impact of this virus?

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

(Q) What measures can an individual take to lessen the chances of becoming infected?

(A) 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. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 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 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 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.

(Q) What are the best ways adults can deal with the anxiety surrounding a global health crisis?

(A) Everyone can do their part to help respond to this emerging public health threat. Individuals and communities should familiarize themselves with recommendations to protect themselves and their communities from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. It is also important for communities to remain educated and up to date with the latest and accurate information. ARHS is consistently updating our website with the most recent COVID -19 updates – www.arhs-nc.org. Other resources include the NC DHHS – www.ncdhhs.gov and www.cdc.gov.

(Q) What are the best ways that parents/guardians can talk to their children about this medical issue?

(A) It is important for parents/guardians to find out what their children know by asking open-ended questions to help you gauge your children’s knowledge, as well as their emotional state. Parents should also approach talking to their children about the coronavirus differently depending on their age and developmental level. A good rule of thumb is to only use words your child already understands. Parents should have conversations that remind children to focus on good hygiene practices that can help prevent the spread of the disease. Ultimately, kids need to know at any age that their parents are there for them to respond to concerns and questions with compassion and understanding.