What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a common family of viruses (the common cold is among them). This particular strain is called COVID-19 and can be spread from person to person via respiratory droplets, similar to how the flu is spread. It can also be spread by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth
COVID-19 was first detected in China and has now spread to over 100 locations internationally. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. On March 13, 2020, COVID-19 was officially declared a National Emergency by the United States.
Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases. Symptoms typically appear within 2-14 days after exposure.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are common in people and different species of animals, including cattle, camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and spread from person to person. The current outbreak of respiratory disease is caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first detected in China.
Similar to the flu or other respiratory infections, COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person. A spread is most likely to happen between people in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Although not believed to be the primary way the virus spreads, it may be possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their nose, mouth or eyes.
Certain populations are believed to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness, including older adults and people with underlying chronic health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. If you are at high risk, limit travel and close contact with others, wash your hands frequently and talk to your doctor about what to do if you get sick.
When to see a doctor
For your safety and convenience, we are encouraging all patients experiencing flu-like symptoms (cough, shortness of breath and feeling feverish) to first visit MyBSWHealth in the mobile app or on the web to take a free COVID-19 screening questionnaire.
We ask that you please complete this prior to scheduling an appointment or walking into a clinic, urgent care or hospital emergency department.
To install the app on your mobile device, simply text BETTER to 88408 to have it sent to your phone.
Following your screening questionnaire, you may be prompted to complete an eVisit, which will be evaluated by a Baylor Scott & White provider who can advise you on appropriate next steps.
As always, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911. Notify the dispatch personnel that you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If available, put on a face mask before emergency medical services arrive.
In adults, signs of a medical emergency may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Take preventive steps to protect yourself and your family.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after you cough, sneeze, blow your nose or visit a public space. If soap isn’t readily available, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face — eyes, nose and mouth — with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with others.
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
- Stay informed and regularly check the CDC’s COVID-19 Situation Summary.
- Stay home if you’re sick, except to get medical care.
- When you cough or sneeze, use the inside of your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands immediately.
- If you’re sick, wear a face mask when you are around other people or visiting your doctor’s office (unless this causes trouble breathing).
- Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home that are touched often. Tables, door knob, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, etc. should be cleaned and disinfected daily.