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Basics & Avoidance Tips

You’re hearing a lot about this, everywhere. Below you’ll find what we believe are the most important things to know, to do, and to be prepared for. Knowledge really is safety.

The basics

  • On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization has categorized COVID-19 as a pandemic — the global outbreak of a new infectious disease.
  • On March 13, 2020 U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, opening the door for more federal aid for states and local government.
  • It produces upper respiratory flu-like symptoms — fever, cough, shortness of breath.
  • It spreads easily from person-to-person via coughing or sneezing.
  • Older adults and people with chronic lung or heart conditions or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for serious complications.
  • There is currently no vaccine, and one isn’t expected for 12-18 months.

*The World Health Organization has named the disease caused by the virus COVID-19: “CO” stands for corona, “VI” for virus, “D” stands for disease, and “19” for the year it emerged.

Symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure, and include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
COVID-19 testing kits are in limited supply and this issue is being addressed by federal, state, and local officials across the nation.
There is no antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People diagnosed with COVID-19 will be provided with care to help relieve symptoms.

Contact your doctor, health care provider, or local county health department. They will use CDC guidelines to determine if testing is warranted. There are a few ways that a lab may get a sample for testing.

Swab test. A health care provider will use a special swab to take a sample from your nose or throat.

Nasal aspirate. A health care provider will inject a saline solution into your nose, then remove the sample with gentle suction.

Tracheal aspirate. A health care provider will put a thin, lighted tube called a bronchoscope down your mouth and into your lungs, where a sample will be collected.

Sputum test. Sputum is a thick mucus that is coughed up from the lungs. You may be asked to cough up sputum into a special cup, or a special swab may be used to take a sample from your nose.

Blood. A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm.

Contact your primary care physician for testing options.
Your primary care physician will be able to help you. If you don't have one, visit Find a Doctor for help in finding a doctor near you.
You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would with other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with the disease limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) publicly characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Although we don't know the true severity yet, the virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community ("community spread") in some affected geographic areas.
Mortality rates vary by age; .02% for younger healthy populations to 15% for the elderly.

What if I'm high risk?

The CDC has not yet identified any factors that would increase an individual's risk of acquiring COVID-19. However, the very young and elderly, pregnant woman, or people with compromised immunity (i.e., recent surgeries, cancer, etc.) are at higher risk of complications if infected with COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness.
We do not yet know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public. With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and viral respiratory infections such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness.
Your OBGYN and hospital will be able to help you understand the precautions they are taking. Sick patients will be separated into different sections of the hospital.
Your primary care physician will be able to help you. If you don't have one, visit Find a Doctor for help in finding a doctor near you.

What about my kids?

There is no evidence showing children are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. The majority of known cases have been in adults.

How is AHN responding?

AHN is keeping close watch on the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and we are preparing accordingly for the potential increase in cases being diagnosed in the US, including the greater western PA region. AHN has taken a number of proactive steps to protect our patients and caregivers, and to prevent potential transmission of the virus, including enhanced patient screening practices and clinical protocols at AHN emergency departments, surgery centers and physicians’ practices.

Additionally, the Network’s inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) for caregivers has been expanded in anticipation of the potential increased need for those resources. As this situation evolves, we will continue to follow CDC updates and guidance, and work closely with the county and state health departments.

Hospitals are prepared to quarantine ill patients and are taking precautions during admission. It is crucial that you call ahead before visiting a hospital, emergency room, or other care facility so they can prepare for your arrival.
Visitor limitations are in place. Please check with your local hospital.

AHN is keeping close watch on the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and we are preparing accordingly for the potential increase in cases being diagnosed in the US, including the greater western PA region. AHN has taken a number of proactive steps to protect our patients and caregivers, and to prevent potential transmission of the virus, including enhanced patient screening practices and clinical protocols at AHN emergency departments, surgery centers and physicians’ practices.

Additionally, the Network’s inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) for caregivers has been expanded in anticipation of the potential increased need for those resources. As this situation evolves, we will continue to follow CDC updates and guidance, and work closely with the county and state health departments.

Hospitals can potentially run out of beds; this is why certain states are recommending “social distancing.” Examples include: Universities moving to online-only classes. Corporations enacting mass work-from-home policies. Sports leagues canceling or postponing seasons to help contain the spread.

How to protect yourself

No, the CDC recommends making face masks from household items. Simple cloth face coverings help slow the spread of the virus, especially in community settings. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be saved for health care workers or first responders.
Estimates range between 6-18 months. No vaccine is currently available.

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 (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) 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.

The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
While it's possible to make your own hand sanitizer at home, a simpler solution is to just wash hands with available bar or liquid soap and water for 20 seconds, frequently.
Yes, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask in public settings where other social distancing measures are hard to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other public areas. We now know from recent studies that many people with Coronavirus can transmit the virus to others even if they don’t have symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting closely — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not showing symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings.
To learn how to make a mask with household items, visit the CDC guide here
Yes, you should still practice social distancing and wash your hands when wearing a face mask. A cloth face mask helps prevent you from spreading the virus, but isn’t designed to protect you from others.

What about travel?

Contact your employer’s Human Resources department for guidelines. CDC recommends avoiding all non-critical travel.
The CDC recommends avoiding all non-critical travel.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
The CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel. If you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, contact your primary care doctor immediately.
Seek medical advice where you are currently.
Seek medical advice where you are currently.
If you fall sick while abroad, seek medical advice where you are currently. Depending on your travel history, you will be asked to stay home for a period of 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread cases or ongoing community spread.

How can I prepare for quarantine?

Create a household plan of action in case of illness in the household or disruption of daily activities due to COVID-19. Consider a 2-week supply of prescription and over the counter mediations, food, and other essentials. Know how to get food delivered, if possible..
Local public officials may make recommendations appropriate to your local situation. Creating a household plan can help protect your health and those family members who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 illness. A 2-week supply of food, prescriptions, and non-prescription medicines is a good start.
Local public officials may make recommendations appropriate to your local situation. Creating a household plan can help protect your health and those family members who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 illness. A 2-week supply of food, prescriptions, and non-prescription medicines is a good start.
Local public officials may make recommendations appropriate to your local situation. Creating a household plan can help protect your health and those family members who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 illness. A 2-week supply of food, prescriptions, and non-prescription medicines is a good start.
Local public officials may make recommendations appropriate to your local situation. Creating a household plan can help protect your health and those family members who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 illness. A 2-week supply of food, prescriptions, and non-prescription medicines is a good start.

Care for other conditions

If you are pregnant or have a chronic condition, you probably have a lot of questions on how COVID-19 affects your ongoing care.

If you suspect you have it

Discover when you need to quarantine yourself, see a doctor, and get tested. Also learn what happens after you test positive.

Do you know where to go?

It’s that moment – you think you have COVID-19. At AHN, we’re ready to help you. Learn where you can get the care you need now.

What’s changed at AHN?

AHN has taken a number of proactive steps to protect our patients and caregivers, and to prevent potential transmission of the virus.