An Update on COVID-19: What We Know Now
As the virus continues its spread across the United States, new information regarding this illness is coming to light as we research and learn more about it. But in the time it’s taken for COVID-19 to infect millions of people, even more misinformation is permeating the internet. This is a follow-up from our last post that will share the current most up to date findings and recommended best practices that will protect you, those around you, and our healthcare workers.
The most recent developments about COVID-19
Originating in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has travelled the globe and infected over 300,000 people in the United States at the time of publishing. Since first appearing late in 2019, scientists have had more time to study the virus, but it has also changed in that time. Currently, scientists are mapping out eight different strains of COVID-19 and studying how they traveled across the globe. You can see these strains online at Nextstrain.org, an open-source pathogen genome data tracker.
Coronavirus longevity on surfaces
Researchers leading the fight against COVID-19 also released information about the longevity of the virus on surfaces. This is dependent on the material of the surface. For example, initial research shows that the virus can only survive on cardboard for 24 hours; however, on metal objects, like door knobs or appliance handles, it can last up to five days. It is important to regularly disinfect these heavily utilized surfaces to prevent carrying the virus from the surface, to your hands, and to your eyes, nose, or mouth. The CDC provides a guide on basic household cleaning and disinfection protocols.
As healthcare workers fight on the front lines treating patients of COVID-19, new treatments are being developed in labs across the world. The news is full of these developments regarding medications used to treat ebola, malaria, and even head lice. While there may be validity in these as potential treatments, medical professionals still need to go through the proper measures to ensure the safety and efficacy of these drugs to treat COVID-19. This requires approval for clinical trials which need funding. The reality is that these things take time. Even though it’s natural to be anxious while waiting for a treatment to be approved, as the virus has only been in the U.S. since February, scientists still need time to find a safe treatment for humans. We urge our readers to follow the treatment regimens specified by their healthcare providers. At the time of posting, no treatment has been approved to treat the coronavirus.
Coronavirus care and testing costs
Many people are concerned about the cost of testing and care for COVID-19. As the coronavirus spreads, many health insurance providers are waiving fees for diagnostic testing or treatment. However, due to demand, the availability of tests may vary by state and county. Residents may look up information on testing availability and protocols on their state Department of Health webpage or with their healthcare provider. You can also call the customer service numbers on the back of your insurance card to ask your insurance provider about your testing and care coverage.
So, what can you do to help?
Because new information is constantly being released, it is important to stay informed. The first thing you can do to help slow the spread of COVID-19 is by knowing the facts, sharing those facts from reputable sources, and following the advice of professionals. Rely on information found on websites for the CDC, the WHO, and your state Department of Health. Because treatment testing and creating vaccines takes time, here are some best practices you can use to avoid getting sick or spreading the virus.
Handwashing and facemask protocols
Practice even more than just your regular daily hygiene. It is recommended that you wash your hands several times a day for at least 20 seconds in warm, soapy water. Ensure you and those around you are properly washing their hands and preventing the spread of germs by coughing or sneezing into your elbows. As per the CDC, wear face masks whenever outside or running essential errands. Because there is a shortage of medical-grade masks for healthcare workers, they are urging consumers to avoid purchasing or hoarding medical grade masks and to try making your own using a bandana or piece of cloth. These are washable and reserve valuable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) resources for healthcare workers. To learn how to sew a face mask with elastic, watch this video. Or, for an easy makeshift mask, watch this trick shared by the Surgeon General.
Stay home to slow the spread
Lastly, please stay home as much as you possibly can. Every trip spared helps slow the rate of infection. Sometimes the best help you can give is by doing nothing at all, and being willing to limit and sacrifice your trips out of your home to protect others. To best prevent spreading COVID-19, avoid social gatherings or highly populated public places, and abide by your county’s quarantine and shelter-in-place protocols. Shop for groceries and essentials once a week rather than every day, and use a delivery service wherever practical. This doesn’t just protect you, it protects others around you, and it protects healthcare workers on the front lines. If you believe you may have symptoms, immediately take precautions to self-isolate yourself. If your condition worsens, call your healthcare provider for instructions to seek out diagnostic testing and treatment. The goal is to limit the spread of the virus while ensuring we can properly allocate resources in all directions.
A final note
As a practicing respiratory and wound care healthcare institution, we believe it is our job to ensure we provide our patients and their families with the latest, credible information regarding this pandemic. For more information about the virus, please refer to the links provided below. We wish everyone good health and safety during this time.