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Watching out for COVID-19: the basics

 

May 1, 2020

Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported — ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

• Fever

• Chills

• Repeated shaking with chills

• Muscle pain

• Headache

• Sore throat

• New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. Consult a medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

If you or a member of your household has signs of COVID-19, call your doctor first, before going to the office or the emergency department.

Hotlines

Community Memorial Hospital and the CMH Raiter Clinic are asking people who think they should be tested to call the Nurse Hotline at 218-499-6799. A nurse will help decide whether or not someone should be tested, and arrange a time to come to the ambulance entrance to the emergency room at CMH, to avoid making any other patients sick. Leave a message if needed on this 24-hour hotline.

Other regional healthcare hotlines include Essentia Health at 1-833-494-0836 and St. Luke’s at 218-249-4200.

The Minnesota Department of Health has set up a COVID-19 public hotline open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hotline number is 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.

Testing

Testing for Covid-19 is available at the mobile testing site located in the parking lot of Community Memorial Hospital Raiter Family Clinic. A doctor’s order is necessary before you can be tested. To be evaluated for a doctor’s order, call 218-879-1271. Testing is available at the mobile site Monday-Friday from 8am-4:30pm.

Home care

Sick? What you can do at home:

• Get plenty of rest and do activities that require little effort like reading a book or watching a movie.

• Drink lots of water and other fluids.

• If you have a sore throat, eat soft foods like soup, or smoothies.

• If you regularly take any medicine prescribed by your doctor, keep taking it, unless a health care provider tells you to stop.

• If you have a fever, take fever-reducing medicine, following the instructions on the product label.

Taking care of your symptoms at home, when you can, is an important way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

If you find your symptoms getting worse, call one of the hotlines listed above. If your health care provider or the hotline recommends testing, tests are available at Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet, or Essentia Healthcare and St. Lukes in Duluth.

• If you have symptoms of a respiratory disease (these include fever, coughing, muscle aches, sore throat, and headache), you should stay home for at least seven days, and for three days with no fever and improvement of respiratory symptoms — whichever is longer. (Your fever should be gone for three days without using fever-reducing medicine.)

• For example, if you have a fever and coughing for four days, you need to stay home three more days with no fever for a total of seven days. Or, if you have a fever and coughing for five days, you need to stay home three more days with no fever for a total of eight days.

Reduce spread

Everyone can work to reduce the spread of COVID-19

• Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or sleeve, or a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands afterwards.

• Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

• Avoid touching your face — especially your eyes, nose and mouth — with unwashed hands.

• Stay home if you have cold- or flu-like symptoms, for seven days after your illness onset or three days after your fever resolves without fever reducing medicine, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Masks

• Wear a cloth face covering (mask) in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).

• Wearing a mask does not protect you from others who may spread the virus. So, whether or not you wear a mask, you still need to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough, and practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet of space between people.

• People who are sick should still stay home. Wearing a mask does not mean people who are sick should go out into the community. If you are sick and need to go to the doctor, call your health care provider before going in and wear a mask to the clinic.

Shopping

Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.

When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).

If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.

Disinfect the shopping cart, use disinfecting wipes if available.

Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.

After leaving the store, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

At home, follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill.

There is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to getting sick from COVID-19.

Gassing up

Use disinfecting wipes on handles or buttons before you touch them.

After fueling, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you get home or somewhere with soap and water.

Medical care

Talk to your doctor online, by phone, or email. Use telemedicine, if available, or communicate with your doctor or nurse by phone or e-mail.

For pharmacy visits, plan to order and pick up all your prescriptions at the same time.

If possible, call prescription orders in ahead of time. Use drive-thru windows, curbside services (wait in your car until the prescription is ready), mail-order, or other delivery services. Do the same for pet medicine.

Check with your doctor and pharmacist to see if you can get a larger supply of your medicines so you do not have to visit the pharmacy as often.

 
 

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