At Go To Ortho, we have been continually reviewing CDC recommendations and updating our preventive and responsive actions accordingly, so that we can continue to provide care to those that need it while keeping our patient’s and staff’s health a priority.
The Oregon Health Authority announced on February 28, 2020, the first presumptive case of novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in Oregon. According to the news release, this case involved a resident of Washington County, who works at the Lake Oswego School District. This individual experienced symptoms of COVID-19 beginning February 19, 2020, and tested positive for the virus on February 29, 2020.
Since that first presumptive case of novel coronavirus, the Oregon Health Authority has reported as of March 19, 2020, a total of 88 patients who have tested positive for the virus. At Go To Ortho, we have been reviewing CDC recommendations and developing preparedness plans for both preventive and responsive actions. With these most recent developments, we want our patients to have access to the most current information as soon as possible.
Preliminary research indicates that the virus is transmitted through sneezes, cough, and contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of coronavirus can include, fever, cough, and shortness of breath and last 14 days after exposure.
With this in mind, we ask patients who are sick and or have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath to contact their primary care provider immediately. If you have any of these symptoms, please contact our staff at Go To Ortho and reschedule your appointment. Our staff will be happy to reschedule your appointment in 2-3 weeks’ time.
Preventive Actions You Can Take
Preventing exposure is the best way to avoid illness. You can follow these practices to reduce chances of contracting or spreading the virus:
- Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw away the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well to wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others, as well as by health care workers, those taking care of someone with COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Vigilance in these efforts could save lives.
Why wash your hands?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.
How to Wash Your Hands
The CDC recommends cleaning hands in a specific way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. The guidance for effective hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer was developed based on data from a number of studies.
Your Risk of Exposure
Because the coronavirus has caused illness and sustained person-to-person spread, COVID-19 currently meets two of the three criteria for being deemed a global pandemic. At present, the immediate risk of exposure for most Americans is low. Those at higher risk include health care workers and people who may have been exposed through travel, as well as those people’s close contacts. The CDC has developed guidance for these communities to help with risk assessment and management of potential COVID-19 exposure:
State Department Travel Advisory for China
As of February 2, 2020, the State Department has issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel Advisory for China. Chinese authorities have suspended air, road, and rail travel around high-risk regions and placed other restrictions throughout the community. As of January 31, 2020, the State Department has also ordered the departure of all family members under the age of 21 of U.S. personnel that were residing in China.
Risks Associated with Pregnancy and the Coronavirus
As of February 25, 2020, the CDC does not have specific information pertaining to the risk associated with pregnancy. They have, however, compiled FAQs regarding pregnancy, breastfeeding, and risks to children.
What To Do If You Are Sick With Coronavirus
According to the CDC, if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
- Stay home except to get medical care.
- Separate yourself from people and animals.
- Call ahead and inform your health care provider about your exposure or suspected exposure so that they can protect other patients before your arrival.
- Wear a face mask.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean your hands and “high-touch” surfaces.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
Recommendations for Employers
There is a lot that is still unknown about COVID-19. The CDC makes clear that determinations of risk based on race or country of origin are not warranted or appropriate, and like any medical case, the confidentiality of confirmed coronavirus patients must be maintained. Preventative measures like those typically advised for seasonal flu and other contagious respiratory diseases are recommended. Vigilance in the workplace can help control the spread of any such diseases.
- Proactively encourage sick employees to stay home. This is a common struggle during flu season, but especially in light of the coronavirus, active encouragement to not bring illness into the workplace without stigma or guilt for calling out sick is beneficial. Employees with acute respiratory illness should not return to work until they are free of fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the assistance of fever-reducing/symptom-reducing medication.
- Encourage companies that you may have a contract or temporary employment agreements with to make similar, non-punitive leave arrangements for their employees.
- Do not require a “doctor’s note” for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illnesses, as health care providers may be overwhelmed with similar cases and it may not be medically necessary for a patient to come in.
- The CDC recommends that employees who appear to have symptoms of acute respiratory illness be separated from other employees and sent home.
- Emphasize and encourage good respiratory and hand-cleaning etiquette. Place posters and fact sheets made available by the CDC around your workplace where employees are likely to see them. Instruct employees on hand-washing techniques and note that alcohol-based hand sanitizers should contain at least 60-95% alcohol to be considered effective. Make soap, water, and alcohol-based sanitizer available in your workplace.
- Routinely clean surfaces such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs, and provide disposable wipes for employees to use throughout the day. As of February 25, the CDC is not recommending additional disinfection beyond these standard practices.
In addition to these everyday steps, the CDC recommends creating an infectious disease outbreak response plan so that in the event of a wider outbreak, you are prepared to protect your company and employees. Some things to consider:
- Certain communities are historically more at-risk when exposed to respiratory disease (e.g., older adults, those with compromised immune systems, etc.) Even healthy employees may find themselves having to care for sick loved ones or take on unexpected care duties if entities like child care facilities close or experience an outbreak. Cross-training personnel is a good way to help spread out the burden of unexpected absences within an organization.
- Coordinate with state and local health officials to ensure you’re receiving and sharing timely and accurate information pertaining to the region(s) your organization operates in.
- Consider establishing procedures such as telecommuting or staggered shifts so that human contact is minimized in the event of an outbreak.
For Additional Information on Coronavirus
Check out the following links for more information on coronavirus. The CDC is the best source of information and is the authority on this outbreak.
- For general information, call 211
- CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019
- CDC Travel Notice
- WHO: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak
- Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- OHA: Emerging Respiratory Infections: COVID-19
- Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by John Hopkins CSSE
Share the Information
At Go To Ortho, patient safety and patient care are our central focus. Share this information with your friends and family. In working together as a community, we can help minimize exposure and risk to COVID-19.