Don’t rush to the emergency room.
Emergency room waiting rooms are packed with very sick people and overworked staff and doctors. It’s not a place you want to be, and if you show up unnecessarily, you’re taking care away from people who really need it. Before going to the E.R., stop and ask yourself, “Would I go to the E.R. for these symptoms (a cough or fever) under normal circumstances?” In most cases, the answer is probably no. Coughs, fevers, sore throats and runny noses have rarely been an emergency in the past, and those symptoms, even if due to the coronavirus, won’t be an emergency in most cases. Call your doctor.
When should high-risk patients seek care?
Patients at high-risk should check in with their doctors as soon as they have symptoms. A doctor who knows your situation can help you navigate the system and advise you on how and when to seek treatment. High-risk patients include the elderly as well as people with asthma or lung disease, or a history of pneumonia, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, a compromised immune system due to illness or a drug therapy, or a person has recently been treated for cancer.
What are the warning signs that should cause concern for otherwise healthy people?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the following symptoms should prompt you to seek emergency treatment.
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
Confusion or inability to arouse
Bluish lips or face
Any other symptom that is severe or concerning
How should we care for people at home who have symptoms or have tested positive for the virus?
Many people who have the coronavirus will not stay in a hospital and will be isolated at home. If you have all of the symptoms of the virus but haven’t been tested, you should assume you have it and still take precautions.
Caring for someone with mild to moderate symptoms of the coronavirus is similar to caring for someone with the flu. Give them supportive care, fluids, soups and Tylenol, and have them take their temperature regularly. If a person is so sick or weak that he or she can’t eat, drink or go to the bathroom, call a doctor. The World Health Organization has guidelines on home care for patients with suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Should I take special precautions?
Yes! The patient should be confined to a separate room with no or minimal contact with the rest of the household (including pets), and should use a separate bathroom if possible. Most of the time, a sick person will feel miserable, but he or she can pick up food trays left at the door and sanitize a shared bathroom after using it. (This may not be the case with young children.) If you have masks at home, both patient and caregiver should wear them when in contact with each other.