- ATS fact sheet for non-health care providers
- 10 things you can do to manage your health at home
- What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
For the most up-to-date information about the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes called COVID-19, please visit the following websites
What is novel coronavirus and how is it related to COVID-19?
The novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. It causes coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated as COVID-19), a respiratory illness. ‘Co’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for ‘disease.’
There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses like the common cold. A diagnosis with one of these common coronaviruses, such as 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1, is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with a common coronavirus diagnosis.
What is the source of the virus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause illness in people and others that cause illness only in animals. Rarely, an animal virus can emerge to infect people and begin to spread among people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as the viruses that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS).
How does the virus spread?
The virus was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”). Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected (no recent travel or association with a person known to have COVID-19).
Can someone who has COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
Yes, since COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person, someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why the CDC recommends that COVID-19 patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home depending on how sick they are until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. Current CDC guidance for when it is okay to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention experts, and public health officials when patients meet the following requirements:
- Free from fever without use of fever-reducing medications
- No longer showing symptoms, including cough
- Patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart
When someone is released from isolation, they do not pose a risk to others.
How is the virus spread from person-to-person?
The novel coronavirus is likely spread through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. However, it may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching the mucous membranes of your own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Throughout the day, you should wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or going to the bathroom. You should avoid touching the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth without clean hands. If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or the crook of your elbow, then wash your hands. It is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before preparing or eating food for general food safety.
What does it mean to be quarantined for COVID-19?
Quarantine means separating a person or group of people exposed to a contagious disease who have not developed symptoms of the disease from the others who have not been exposed in order to prevent the possible spread of the disease. The period of time that people are quarantined relates to the established incubation period of the disease, which is the span of time between exposure to a disease and the development of symptoms of the disease. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the date of last exposure because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who is released from quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others.
Am I at risk for exposure to COVID-19?
Risk of exposure:
- The immediate risk of being exposed to this virus is still low for most Americans, but as the outbreak expands, that risk will increase. Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are being reported in a growing number of states.
- People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with the level of risk dependent on the location.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with level of risk dependent on where they traveled. These include: China, Iran, most of Europe, and South Korea.
Risk of severe illness:
- Older adults, with risk increasing by age
- People with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
What can we expect to happen in the United States?
The CDC expects more cases of COVID-19 to be identified in the United States as widespread transmission leads to more people being exposed to the virus. In the coming months, it is likely that most of the U.S. population will be exposed. This could translate into large numbers or people needing medical care at the same time. Mass gatherings may be sparsely attended or postponed. Workplaces and schools may experience increased absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and sectors of the transportation industry may also be affected. Healthcare providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it, though scientists are actively working on both. Nonpharmaceutical interventions will be the most important response strategy to try to delay the spread of the virus and reduce the impact of disease.
What are nonpharmaceutical interventions?
Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic influenza or COVID-19. NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies. When a new virus spreads among people, causing illness worldwide, it is called a pandemic. Because a pandemic virus is new, the human population has little or no immunity against it. This allows the virus to spread quickly from person to person worldwide. NPIs are among the best ways of controlling pandemic viruses when vaccines are not yet available.
- Stay home when you are sick. Also stay home if you have been exposed to a household member who is sick.
- Cover cough and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or used alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Social distancing: Creating ways to increase distance between people in settings where people commonly come into close contact with one another. Specific priority settings include schools, workplaces, events, meetings, and other places where people gather.
- Closures: Temporarily closing child care centers, schools, places of worship, sporting events, concerts, festivals, conferences, and other settings where people gather.
How can I protect myself?
- Know how it spreads. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The virus is thought to spread from person-to-person. This occurs through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Typically, those droplets travel no more than 6 feet. These droplets can land on the mouths or noses of nearby people. They can also land on surfaces, which are then touched by others and transmitted to their eyes, nose or mouth by touch.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you need medical attention, call your doctor’s office prior to going for further instructions. If you need emergency treatment, let the EMS team know that you may be sick. Wear a mask if you are sick.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with either a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Immediately wash your hands afterward.
- Clean your hands often. This is best accomplished using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Alternatively, if your hands are not visibly soiled, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
What do I do if I get sick?
Call our office at (828) 255-7733. We will discuss your symptoms and help you figure out what your next steps should be. Testing is now available for select patients at some Mission locations. Drive-through testing is also being offered for select patients by Buncombe County. Please check the Mission and Buncombe County websites at the top of the page for updated information.