ERs may not be the best place to go due to high concentration of sick people during Coronavirus outbreak.
Live Updates March 30: there are 38087 positive COVID-19 cases in NYC (30.5% increase from March 28). 42% of cases are in the 18-44 age group. Queens and Brooklyn have the most cases.
We have seen multiple cases tested positive for flu and sinus infection. If you were not in contact with a confirmed individual, you can get it checked out at a clinic instead. Cost varies depending on your insurance coverage.
Screen yourself periodically by asking these four questions
According to the Center for Disease Control, the incubation period – the period between you getting infected to showing symptoms – is 5 days (median). This means even if you don’t feel sick, it is always good to take precautionary measures and screen yourself periodically:
1. Do you have any of the symptoms below?
Fever (77-98% of cases)
Cough (46-85% of cases)
Fatigue (11-52% of cases)
Shortness of breath (3-33% of cases)
2. Have you or anyone you know come into close contact with a confirmed Corona COVID-19 individual or someone who is getting tested?
3. Are you currenly managing any chronic diseases?
4. Are you a healthcare or public safety worker?
If you answer yes to one or more questions, you have a higher chance of contracting Coronavirus COVID-19
Even if you are a carrier of the Coronavirus, it is not always symptomatic as the incubation period can last up to two weeks. You might want to take the following steps to contain the spread:
Quarantine yourself immediately, minimize exposure with other humans. Self-quarantine and self-isolation are different. The first is for those who have exposure to individuals with confirmed Coronavirus diagnoses. The second is for those with confirmed positive test results. There are three basic principles to self-quarantine: separation, hygiene, and monitoring.
Minimize body secretion, this is a respiratory illness and it is very contagious. According to the World Health Organization, wearing a mask is only effective if you also wash your hands frequently. While the surgical mask (N95), is the most protective measure; it is in high demand for health workers. The CDC specifically does not recommend the use of N95 mask for the public, it is advisable that you use other forms to protect others.
Contact your state and local public health officials (Department of Health - DOH) immediately. Across the country, there are hotlines set up for Coronavirus. There are limited Human Resources, however, to answer high-volume calls at peak hours. If you have questions, it is generally better to consult with CDC website or the NY Department of Health FAQ website.
NYC Health and Hospital: Call 844-NYC-4NYC (844-692-4692) or 311 (as there are over 6000 calls daily, expect delay and wait time)
If you need emotional support, text "WELL" to 65173 - powered by NYC Well.
Avoid scams! Currently, there are various scams related to Coronavirus treatment, contact the Food and Drug Administration if you are contacted by anyone who claims there is a cure. Lab tests are only available at selected facilities. At this point, the FDA has not authorized the use of home test yet.
Talk medical provider first to see if a test is needed
Urgent care clinics: these facilities are often staffed with both a medical doctor and a mid-level provider. Selected clinics may be able to collect samples for Coronavirus COV-19 testing if you are a health or public safety worker.
CVS Minute Clinics: at this time, there is not a point-of-care test available for COVID-19 at any locations.
Emegency rooms: only visit the ER if you have exposure history and symptoms. Because there will be a high concentration of sick people, you will have a high risk of cross contagion.
Commercial labs like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp may be able to carry out COVID-19 testing in the future but you are not able to get tested at this point by going directly to those facilities.
Not all Corona COVID-19 patients show the same symptoms, some could experience very mild symptoms during the incubation period. Even during the onset (peak), people with compromised immune system and elders could feel sicker compared to young healthy adults.
NY state has just signed an order to allow commercial labs to carry out the test along with government-approved public health laboratories (these are very specialized labs), test kits are being shipped to providers at a limited supply, however.
According to theAtlantic, the highest testing capacity lab is located in California, is able to test up to 7,400 cases a day. But that is still small compared to the demand that comes with new cases each day and limited test kits on the market.
What to expect when getting tested for Coronavirus COVID-19?
If determined as appropriate for testing - patient under investigation (PUI) - a medical doctor will order:
Nose swab(this could feel quite uncomfortable as it reaches deep into your nasal cavity)
One lower respiratory specimen: you will be asked to rinse your mouth with water and then expectorate deep cough sputum directly into a sterile, leak-proof, screw-cap sputum collection cup or sterile dry container
As of March 13, the CDC Interim Clinical Guidelines stated that only one nasopharyngeal swab is needed. "Collection of oropharyngeal swabs (OP) is a lower priority and if collected should be combined in the same tube as the NP. Collection of sputum should only be done for those patients with productive coughs."
After getting the specimens, the clinic will send them to a Public Health Lab approved by the government to test for Coronavirus COVID-19. Currently, only 40 Public Health Labs in the U.S. are authorized by the CDC to test for Coronavirus COVID-19.
As of March 6, New York's Department of Health Wadsworth Center in Albany for testing is the first Public Health Laboratory in the country to begin testing for coronavirus with its own test developed on-site. Comemrcial labs like Quest Diagnostics and Lab Corps are now allowed to process COVID-19 tests are well in NY.
How long will it take to get the results?
Once the specimen reach the lab, they are then put through a four-step process that takesthree to five hours to reveal if a patient has coronavirus.
Due to high demand, there may be some delays in the turnaround time. According to NBC, the current turnaround time is now 4-6 days. Your provider will be immediately notified of the positive result.
What to do in the meantime?
Keep calm, take the steps below to make sure you are not infecting others as well as staying on top of your health.
Practice social distancing, this is the most effective way to slow down the spread.
Take your temperature twice a day.
Check for symptoms — cough or shortness of breath.
Stay at home and remain out of public places. Do not go to school or work.
You need to do this for 14 days since the day you left the CDC designated country that requires home self-monitoring, even if you spent time in another country before entering the U.S.
Healthcare can be confusing, here are more resources:
This article is not meant to replace expert opinions of a medical provider pertaining to your health. If you are in need of immediate care, please consult with your insurance carrier, public health official, or call 911.
Awareness is key. Share knowledge with your friends and family.