Written by SMH Digital Communications Specialist Ann Key
It seems new information related to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 is reported daily now. Because the virus and the disease it causes (COVID-19) are new, health experts are continually learning more about both, and adjusting prevention and testing guidelines accordingly.
It’s vital that the public stay informed and proactive, as knowledge about COVID-19 and the new coronavirus continues to evolve. It’s important not only to get the facts, but to get them from sources you trust.
Here at Sarasota Memorial, our teams have fielded innumerable COVID-19 questions — from patients, news media, concerned visitors and community members at-large — in the last few weeks. We’re sharing here some of the things we’ve been addressing in these conversations.
Below, you’ll find our list of must-have facts, but for the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date information related to novel coronavirus and COVID-19, we highly recommend visiting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/covid19), Florida Department of Health (floridahealth.gov/covid19) and World Health Organization (who.int/coronavirus) online.
Did You Know?
COVID-19 is a disease. It is caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that has been named SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Wearing a regular surgical facemask is unlikely to offer healthy people protection from COVID-19 infection, according to the CDC. Surgical masks should be worn by those who are sick to help prevent the spread of the disease and by those advised by a doctor to wear them due to underlying health conditions.
Properly washing your hands with soap is more effective at killing germs than just using hand sanitizer.
Using surface wipes with disinfectant on your hands is not a recommended method for killing germs.
Getting a flu shot does not directly guard against COVID-19 infection, nor does the vaccine for pneumonia, and there is no evidence the vaccines will reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. However, the flu shot does boost your chances of staying healthy.
Liquid/gel hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective; use hand sanitizer when proper handwashing isn’t an option.
There are no FDA-registered products proven to kill COVID-19 germs. For disinfecting, health officials recommend cleaning commonly touched surfaces with bleach, ammonia or alcohol-based disinfectants (liquid or wipes). Wipe down and disinfect things like doorknobs, light switches, refrigerator handle(s), TV or stereo remote controls, computer keyboards, your home telephone and cases for cellphones and other touchscreen devices.
The CDC has specific criteria for who should be tested for COVID-19; these testing guidelines are evolving as experts learn more about the virus. Healthcare providers will work with the Florida Department of Health and CDC to determine whether there is a need for a patient to be tested for COVID-19.
You should CALL FIRST before seeking care, if you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath; these can be mild to severe. Call your healthcare provider to review your signs, symptoms and travel history thoroughly with them, and to ask how you can seek treatment without exposing others. If you do not have a doctor or healthcare provider you can call, reach out to the Florida Dept. of Health (866-779-6121) or call the SMH Coronavirus Hotline (941-917-8799) for guidance.
For more facts and answers to commonly asked question, visit smh.com/covid19.
* Last updated 8am March 10, 2020.
As Sarasota Memorial's digital communications specialist, Ann Key manages the health care system's Healthe-Matters blog, as well as other wellness and social media channels.