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HFYH: Diligence and COVID-19 – More Important than Ever

As we enter the fall of 2020, it is more important than ever that everyone remain diligent by adhering to social distancing guidelines and wearing masks to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Students have returned to college campuses as well as K-12 schools across the United States. In many areas of the country hit hardest by COVID-19 infections, the positivity rate and death rate have begun to decline. But this is not the time to relax and return to activities that are known to increase the spread of the virus, like attending large gatherings. This is not the time to stop wearing the mask that has been a primary factor in reducing the spread of the virus. This is the time to be diligent and continue wearing face masks, washing hands regularly, and maintaining social distancing of at least six feet from others. These are the steps that have brought us to today’s improved situation. Let’s all continue to following these guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 until there is a vaccine available for everyone.

For a quick reference on COVID-19, please see the summary below and the source material provided in the footnotes.

COVID-19 Background

COVID-19 Infection:  An infectious disease caused by the emergent coronavirus that is similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus. It was designated as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) . It leads to respiratory illness and often-severe pneumonia.

Mode of Transmission: COVID-19 is transmitted primarily via respiratory droplets from an infected individual when the individual coughs, sneezes or talks. It may also be transmitted by touching a surface or object that has the virus present and then touching one’s own mouth, nose or eyes. 

COVID-19 symptoms: Individuals may be symptomatic or asymptomatic. The Illness can manifest respiratory, gastrointestinal or neurological symptoms, most commonly: cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat and/or loss of taste and/or smell .

Infectious period: The individual can be infectious two days before onset of symptoms until ten days from onset.  Individuals who are symptomatic, asymptomatic or in the pre-symptomatic phase of the illness can be contagious. Risk of transmission depends on the exposure characteristics such as type of exposure, duration, use of preventive measures, and individual factors.

The incubation period for COVID-19: It is generally two to fourteen days following exposure. Symptoms generally appear approximately five and up to fourteen days following infection with most cases occurring approximately five days after exposure1.

“It’s very important not to let your guard down,” said Sandra Warren, MD, MPH, medical provider for the C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics. “Practice the three W’s by watching your distance, wearing a mask and washing your hands.  Be mindful that for adults and children, COVID-19 may present symptoms similar to that of a cold or a mild cough, so get tested to know for sure.” 

COVID-19 Tests: There are several tests available to test for COVID-19 infection. They include:

Reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR): detects SARS-CoV-2 RNA from the upper respiratory tract using the nasopharyngeal or nasal swab collection method. This is the preferred initial diagnostic test for COVID-19 as it has a higher sensitivity than antigen tests.

Antigen test: detect SARS-CoV-2 antigen and can be performed rapidly and at the point of care using the nasopharyngeal or nasal swab collection method.

IgM and IgG are serologic tests that detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in the blood  . Serological tests can help identify patients who previously had SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as patients with current infection who have had symptoms for three to four weeks.

If you would like to be tested for COVID-19 or make an appointment with a Primary Care Provider, the Health Care District’s C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics are providing safe, in-person medical appointments and pharmacy services at eight clinic sites throughout Palm Beach County.  Patients can call 561-642-1000 to schedule an appointment for COVID-19 testing or a telemedicine or inpatient visit.