Coronavirus: Be informed and call your provider if symptoms develop


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See here for the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus information.

Talk of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is everywhere. Here’s what you should know and do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

Know the symptoms

The new virus causes respiratory illness in humans, usually 2–14 days after exposure. Illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus is thought to spread mainly from close contact with an affected person. It spreads in the air, like flu, and through droplets from sneezes and coughs. The droplets can stay suspended in the air and can land on surfaces that are touched by others. 

Understand your risk

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers COVID-19 to be a serious public health threat, but individual risk is dependent upon exposure. For the general American public–those who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time–the immediate health risk is low. 

Keep an eye on coronavirus, but remember the flu

Symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath also happen to be symptoms of the common cold and flu. This year, at least 29 million flu cases have been reported with 280,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from flu. Flu activity most commonly peaks between December and February and can last until May.

What’s important to remember is that anyone can get the flu. But you are more likely to become infected if you:

  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have frequent, close contact with young children
  • Work in a health care setting where you may be exposed to flu germs
  • Live or work with someone who has the flu
  • Haven’t received an annual flu shot

Take precautions to guard against infection

  • Get a flu shot
  • Keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Stay home and away from others when sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues or your arm/sleeve. Dispose of tissues in the trash.
  • Keep surfaces clean using disinfecting wipes
  • Check the CDC advisories prior to planning travel

Stay home and phone

If you have symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please call your local VA medical center and select the option to speak to a nurse before visiting the facility. Tell them about your symptoms and any recent travel.

In addition to calling first, consider using VA’s telehealth and virtual care options. VA’s telehealth providers can evaluate your symptoms and provide a diagnosis and comprehensive care, so you do not have to leave your home or office.

Get VA’s latest updates on the new coronavirus: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/index.asp

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. fakaza    

    How long does #COVID-19 live on surfaces?
    How long does #COVID-19 live in dead bodies?
    Does burning the bodies make #Covid-19 airborne?
    What is level of #COVIDー19 in those released from hospitals?49% still infected but discharged/released to home isolation

  2. Kathy L Cox    

    The virus needs something from our bodies in order to multiply. There is a reason why some countries have more cases than other countries. It is the blood sugar levels of the people living in that country. China eats rice which turns into sugar in our bodies. Italy eats pasta and drinks wine which turns into sugar inside us. Mexico and corn consumption. All sick people should have their A1C levels tested. There is a connection between all of their A1C levels. When people get sick the hospitals give them IVs of glucose, which only increases the viruses in their bodies. Fructose also turns into sugar. Fruit, wine, corn, rice and potatoes and all foods that produce sugar in our bodies should be stopped in order to control our bodies ability to survive the virus. You will not be able to avoid the virus, but if you lower your blood sugar level then you can limit it’s ability to ruin your health. I hope this gets out to the public. The government spread the message on how to avoid the virus but no one tells you how to help control it once you get exposed to it.

    1. Tracy Conard    

      I have hypoglycemia- the exact opposite of high blood sugar or glucose levels. I don’t have insulin resistance nor do I have any other blood sugar issues. Low blood sugar is bad enough.
      I DO have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease, a compromised immune system due to other health problems.
      I also have the symptoms for COVID-19. As an RN, I’m aware of what viruses feed on. Yes, glucose is a small portion of the problem. It is not the end all to the Coronavirus pandemic. This novel virus needs particular temperature ranges to thrive in outside the body, it needs a certain amount of humidity. It needs a white blood cell range within a certain parameter. The list goes on.
      Yes, carbs are converted to glucose. But a body faced with illness or stress will automatically increase the glucose levels in order to be able to support the functions of the immune system in fighting off the invading virus. The need for glucose is a part of our body’s defense system. Depriving the body of glucose actually can impair healing.
      That said, for those with diabetes, and excessively high glucose levels while sick, tighter glucose control is implemented through doctor’s orders. Without knowing a particular patient’s history it can be dangerous to simply state glucose is the problem. Just cutting sugar out of a diet can harm a person just as much as help them.
      The Asian diets typically are very healthy diets. They tend to focus more on vegetables & fresh foods than on the starch in rice. Americans take healthy diets, add their own twist to them and make them unhealthy.
      To state that certain ethnicities eat only one way/diet is like saying all Americans eat white bread, lots of processed foods & don’t pay attention to nutritional values in their diets. That is a false statement. So are your statements that all people in certain countries/regions eat one way.
      I just returned from the Yucatán peninsula- Mexico – the main focus of the diet is NOT corn. It is fruit, vegetables, seafood. Corn is typically only in tortillas. Those are small, thin & used very little. They are kind of like a dinner roll.
      When I was in Tiajuana, I thought it was pretty cool that I was able to have a Cesar Salad at Cesar’s, where the salad originated.
      Healthy eating is a mindset, not an ethnicity.
      Please be careful of making broad sweeping statements such as yours.
      Yes, high glucose CAN be bad. It can also be protective & a normal part of restoring the body to health.

  3. Drake    

    The deadly virus has really put the world on a stand-still. Lord help us.

  4. JEFFREY Porter    

    The VA help line is one big joke on all vets….i waiting on line for almost and hour before i decided to hang up….you would think with everything that is going on they would have more personal too help out with the volume of calls coming thru….once again….a BIG JOKE!!!!!

  5. VeeDee    

    Your compromised immunity is not a death sentence. I took immuno-modulators for 14 years (in addition to Prednisone for relapses off and on) and never came down with anything that was life- threatening. There is a slight risk of developing leukemia with use of 6MP (Mercaptopurine), but consider myself to be in good health.
    Call the CDC, see what they advise for you in your situation. Follow the protocol for protecting yourself. You should not be worrying about dying.

  6. aneesshah47    

    The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm and is spreading across countries and continents like wildfire. Here is the updated list of some of the well-known people – celebrities and sports stars- who have tested positive for Coronavirus.

  7. Ronel Rustia    

    I tried calling the VA here in California/san jose, their main menu is unresponsive, it just keeps repeating itself.
    I think going there would be more risky.

  8. Karen Wall    

    I “suddenly” caught a bad and lingering cold this past week just two days after attending a concert at a local venue. I continue to hope it is just a cold, but am self-quarantining anyway. By Friday it began to get worse with a painful cough and low-grade temp. I called the VA nurse advice line and was told to not go to the ED here at my local VA and that the advice nurse (located at West LA VA, by the way) would call me back. 24 Hours later, after a sleepless night, increase symptoms, and now a fever of 99+, I called again. After waiting in the phone cue, starting as caller 50, I finally got through to find out if they were going to call me back, I was told by the person answering the phone (not a RN) that “Oh, you’re still in the cue. You have to give the nurse time to call you back” and received no further assistance. By the afternoon, with a temp of now 101+, I call AGAIN, and luckily was only caller 15 in the cue. The same person answered, gave me the same canned response, only this time I managed to ask her a question about what I should do now that my temp is 101+. Her response was “I’m not a nurse. You’ll have to wait until the nurse calls you back”. At least I’m a RN and am pretty well-informed on how to navigate illness; however, I was discouraged to discover that it seems the individual VA facilities/regions do not have their own Advice Nurse lines to handle calls locally and more efficiently. Is there really just the one nurse for ALL of the VA??? It sure sounded like it! If that is the case, then no wonder we veterans are having difficulty getting care. I know this for sure, though, if my temp rises again by tomorrow, I don’t care what the directives are, I am driving my everlovin’ self to my VA to be seen!

    1. Cheryl Sibley    

      First and foremost, I hope you are feeling better!

      I returned from a cruise and began experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath). I sent a message to my team at the local VA clinic. I was told to “self quarantine” and go to the local ER or urgent care clinic if my symptoms get worse. Of course, our public officials are saying NOT to go to the ER or urgent care. Being a state employee, I cannot just stay home from work without an order from a doctor to do so. Of course, there are insufficient tests available here in Louisiana, just like everywhere else. I would have thought the VA would be able to test its patients or give us meaningful guidance, at the very least.

    2. Anna Nothnagel    

      Hey, you should use the CDC evaluator to see if you should go. It is right on their page. Since you aren’t getting responses from your Dr. Also during the week they typically respond to messages. Hope you feel better!

  9. Joan Evans    

    Hand Sanitizers are not available in the community any longer–nor is rubbing alcohol. For those of us who need it, is the VA able to dispense it to us, even if it is on a prescription basis so that distribution can be controlled? Some of us are exposed to potential carriers (such as children in school, or those who have to go to work) on a daily basis so this would be very helpful.

  10. Brenda Short-Bailey    

    My husband 100% has an appointment at VAMC Ralph Johnson tomorrow for a Cardiac CT. MUSC whose liaison with the VAMC is literally next door and has had a team member infected.
    Gunny has COPD & Cardiac repair of a valve. Usually appts are month or more out. They said he could come in today but too quick. Yet tomorrow.
    Should I reschedule the appt. Should I have him call his Primary Care to advise? Or just take him. As I’m sure the VAMC is swamped by the types that
    run to the Dr. hypochondriac types.

    1. JOHN D    

      Sure make an appointment and run to your doctor. The VA will welcome you as the hypochondriac type Brenda.

  11. ent doctor nyc    

    Wow, this is the best information on your page. I also have some issues with my ear and throat and was showing a specialist Doctor And I accept that you have to show yourself to a specialist for your problem rather than show it to an ordinary clinician.

  12. Jason Jones    

    I recently found out from here (https://www.groomjournal.com/does-hand-sanitizer-expire-what-happens-when-it-does/) that hand sanitizers can lose their effectiveness after it passes the labeled expiry date. Just wanted to share this knowledge with everyone.

  13. Gloria D Foard    

    Cindy Barnett February 27, 2020 at 9:36 pm Reply
    Get the flu and pneumonia shot ASAP. Coronavirus goes into pneumonia which is the killer, not the Coronavirus. My husband and I got both the flu shot and when the Coronavirus became an issue we are protected by the pneumonia vaccine too. Your wife needs to make sure she get the flu and Coronavirus vaccine as soon as she can. If there is an outbreak of Coronavirus in your area prepare ahead of time with food, meds, necessities to help keep you from having to get in crowds. Praying for you.

    SOOOO… where do you get a Coronavirus Vaccine????

    1. USMC Veteran    

      She meant flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine shots.
      She did not mean flu & corona vaccine shots.
      There is no corona vaccine shot yet. Maybe in a year.
      Meanwhile, get flu and pneumonia vaccine shots.
      They may help. I guess they wouldn’t hurt.
      Eat healthy.
      Keep a strong immune system with lots of vitamin c and echinacea. Garlic onion ginger are also good.
      Eat Lots of vitamins minerals fruits vegetables nuts etc. Fresh or frozen are both fine.
      Don’t eat sugar.
      Walk or work out a little bit everyday.
      Get some sunshine every day.
      Stay positive and laugh every day.
      All these things make your immune system stronger so it can kill the germs that constantly attack us.
      Good luck, everyone !

      1. JOHN D    

        No Corona Virus Vaccine until about a year Gloria.

  14. F j Brown    

    I have a very nice tinfoil hat for you. Where should I send it?

  15. Laurie R. Chi    

    how can we confirmed it is Corona without confusion?

  16. Deborah L. Owens    

    I’m scheduled for surgery on 11march.
    Should I be concerned?

  17. Jeffrey Spehar    

    Ya’ll need to quit panicking. Unless you are ill or very sick and come down with this you will survive. People in this country panick over everything.

    1. MARLON L MAXEY    

      BEING AWARE IS NOT PANIC BUT UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S GOING ON. Ignoring anything is not wise but risky.

  18. kirsten houseknecht    

    HA!
    i went to the VA emergency room with symptoms that could have been Covid19 (or a lot of other things including flu)

    I wore a mask to avoid infecting anyone. i told them i had been exposed to a multi nationally attended reptile expo (twice- two different ones)
    they insisted that if i hadnt been IN CHINA i couldnt have it.

    they didnt test for it (probably couldnt) and didnt even test for influenza!
    just told me to come back if i got worse.

    1. RPNelson    

      I asked my local VA clinic (Sherman, TX) if they are able to test for the virus and they said there are no testing capabilities for VA centers. I asked what options do I have and they didn’t have any suggestions.

  19. David F. Rogus    

    As adjectives the difference between infected and affected is that infected is referring to something that has received an infection while affected is influenced or changed by something.

  20. Julia Shafer    

    Get a flu shot so you won’t get the flu and clog up the care facilities leaving healthcare workers free to treat others with the CoronaVirus should it hit hard.

    1. Karen Wall    

      I got the flu shot…….I’m sick

      1. VeeDee    

        So am I and so are a lot of people. That does not mean I’m going out to be tested for the coronavirus when there are no tests available. Stay home and call an ambulance when you have trouble breathing and start turning blue. That’s the only option at this time.

  21. Craig Smith    

    INCUBATION PERIOD OF CORONAVIRUS HAS RECENTLY BEEN DISCOVERED BY US STUDIES TO BE 24 DAYS, NOT 14 AS ORIGINALLY REPORTED.
    BUY THE ANTI-MICROBIAL FACE MASKS AND KEEP THEM ON IN PUBLIC PLACES.

    NICE BAIT & SWITCH, BY THE WAY, HEADLINING CORONAVIRUS TO PUSH THE FLU IMMUNIZATION.
    “PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST CORNOVAIRUS. COME IN AND GET PIG DNA AND ABORTED FETAL TISSUE INJECTED INTO YOUR BODY!!!”

  22. Margaret P Clarke    

    How long does #COVID-19 live on surfaces?
    How long does #COVID-19 live in dead bodies?
    Does burning the bodies make #Covid-19 airborne?
    What is level of #COVIDー19 in those released from hospitals?49% still infected but discharged/released to home isolation

    What kills COVID-19 in the Petri dish?
    What distance other than 6ft has been tested?
    Why the big drama if it’s only like the flu…truth stops panic !

    Stop with the guesses and tell facts that are KNOWN!

  23. Hector Almeida    

    Are face masks available from VA?

  24. Eric Schindler    

    The first recommendation, “Get a flu shot” makes no sense. What evidence exists that suggests a vaccine that targets a different disease with aid in the prevention or mitigation of an infection with the novel coronovirus? Or is there some other magic at work here? See below the WHO recommendation from Feb 2019, well before the novel coronavirus became of concern.
    From WHO: It is recommended that egg based quadrivalent vaccines for use in the 2019-2020 northern hemisphere influenza season contain the following:
    an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
    an A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus; *
    a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus (B/Victoria/2/87 lineage); and
    a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata/16/88 lineage).
    It is recommended that the influenza B virus component of trivalent vaccines for use in the 2019-2020 northern hemisphere influenza season be a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus of the B/Victoria/2/87-lineage.

    1. VeeDee    

      It’s fairly simple. If you can avoid getting the flu at this point in time there won’t be any confusion as to WHAT it is AND you won’t have to be seen by a doctor in order to get a prescription for Tamiflu, which would take time away from the people who really ARE showing signs.

  25. Michael Loots    

    I keep hearing about a lot of pharmaceuticals are made in China and that we have pulled our inspectors home. How do I find out if any of mine are made there and what the VA is going to do about it. I could only find where three of the 9 I take were made. Two in the US and one in Bangladesh.

  26. Michael Kinney    

    Corona kills 50+ primarily through pneumonia, and a flu shot would not give immunity. All 7 square +plus should have pneumonia shots, both types. Exception: A or B influenza + Corona = probable death. So, get the flu shot (you should have already automatically done this.)
    1: If an infected develops in the area stay at home, ask for extended leave or work from home if possible. Stock up beforehand with canned goods. Arrange for pick-up from stores that offer such a service, but still try to avoid.
    2: Do not flee/leave. You will expose yourself anywhere you stop and endanger possibly relatives and friends.
    3. Do not stand in lines.
    4. No parties, no golfing.
    5. If there is a common mail area, try to visit once a week, make sure no one is around and wear neoprene gloves and a mask if you can get one.
    6. A real case. Snowbirds filled up a local medical facility with flu. Father was forced to wait 7 hours with a stroke. You can expect this sort of thing as well as supply deficits.

    For further information, run through all Great Courses “The Black Death” on Roku. Corona is not nearly as severe, but the lessons are full of mistakes made in the past that you can avoid. Review the Black Death in India in the 1990s on the web.

    I just finished a bout with what I think was influenza B which was severe. My temperature remained at 96.6 and 96.8 because of a body adaptation to Hong Kong flu and double pneumonia in 1968 (temperature on arrival at Sick Bay, 107.) If infected, I will probably die BUT WILL NOT SHOW SYMPTOMS BEFOREHAND. And there are plenty survivors of that around! This flu differed from other in that there was bubbling in the nose (that has NEVER happened before) and later bubbling in the chest.

    So, if you have to go to the doctor call beforehand and hopefully they will have a mask for you at the door. DO NOT SIT NEXT TO ANYONE!

  27. Kenneth Lee Bennett    

    I contacted my primary care doctor this week. He told the nurse there’s nothing the VA is doing about Corona virus then told me, call the Marion county (Florida) health department, not the VA!!!

    My wife is Vietnamese, in Vietnam for 40 days and coming home February 28th. I’m worried for her but very worried for myself. Why in hell did I get blown off by my primary care doctor? As a Vietnam veteran being told my immune system is compromised, if she comes down with Corona virus, it might kill me!!! The VA in Gainesville Florida is my care provider since being 100% service connected, permanent and total for 20 years.

    Please contact me asap, she will be back Friday February 28th 2020. Where do we go if she or I need doctors to save our lives if Gainesville VA hospital or doctor won’t take care of me!!!

    Ken Bennett

    1. Cindy Barnett    

      Get the flu and pneumonia shot ASAP. Coronavirus goes into pneumonia which is the killer, not the Coronavirus. My husband and I got both the flu shit and when the Coronavirus became an issue we are protected by the pneumonia vaccine too. Your wife needs to make sure she get the flu and Coronavirus vaccine as soon as she can. If there is an outbreak of Coronavirus in your area prepare ahead of time with food, meds, necessities to help keep you from having to get in crowds. Praying for you.

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