Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Corona Virus Disease
Coronavirus (COVID-19):

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a fairly new respiratory illness that was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. The unfamiliar nature of COVID-19 has lent itself to a variety of unknowns and with new information coming available on a daily basis, the situation is rapidly evolving. As the knowledge grows about the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided insight into what the situation is like in the United States and what the current risk is for citizens, as well as, how COVID-19 compares to the flu and what people can do to protect themselves.

 

Situation in the United States and current risk assessment:

The CDC’s website details how outbreaks of novel virus infections are always a public health concern and the risk to the general public depends on the characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people, the severity of the illness it causes and the medical or other resources available to control the virus and its impact. The CDC has broken down the risk for Americans into two different categories, “Risk of exposure and Risk of Severe Illness”.

Risk of Exposure:

  • Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all 50 states
  • People living in places where on-going community spread of the virus has been reported, are at an elevated risk of exposure, with the level of risk being dependent on location.
  • Healthcare workers or those in close contact with COVID-19 patients are also at an elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected US and international locations were community spread is occurring are at an elevated risk of exposure.

Risk of Severe Illness:

With the level of knowledge we currently have on COVID-19, there are certain sections of our population that are more prone to having severe complications. The CDC reports that older adults over the age of 65 and those who live in a nursing home or long-term health facility are at increased risk. They also reported that individuals with underlying medical conditions are also at a heightened risk, in particular if the conditions are not well controlled. Here is a list of those conditions:

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised:
    • Conditions that can lead to those being immunocompromised include, smoking, cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation and poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, among others.
  • People who are severely obese or those who have a BMI of 40 or higher
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

What may happen? (CDC Website):

The CDC reports that more cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. If widespread transmission of COVID-19 were to occur, it would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time and schools, childcare center and workplaces experiencing higher absenteeism.

Symptoms and Protecting Yourself

According to the CDC, cases of Coronavirus have ranged in severity from patients showing only mild symptoms to severe illness and even death. Symptoms may appear within 2-14 days after exposure with fever, cough and shortness of breath listed as the most common. Since there is currently no vaccine to help prevent COVID-19, the best way to prevent the illness is to take some recommended actions to help reduce exposure. The CDC’s official website recommends the following preventative actions:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or use a hand sanitizer

 

COVID-19 vs. Flu

With COVID-19 and the Flu producing similar symptoms, the two have been linked together from the beginning. Both COVID-19 and the Flu are infectious respiratory illnesses but they do have additional similarities along with some distinct differences. Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, M.D. listed the following similarities and differences on hopkinsmedicine.org:

Similarities:

  • Both cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue; sometimes vomiting and diarrhea
  • Can be mild or severe, even fatal in rare cases
  • Can result in pneumonia
  • Both can be spread from person to person through the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking
  • Neither virus is treatable with antibiotics, which only work on bacterial infections
  • Both may be prevented by thorough handwashing, coughing into the crook of your elbow, staying home when sick and limiting contact with people who are infected

Differences:

  • COVID-19 is caused by one virus, the novel 2019 Coronavirus, and the flu is caused by several different types and strains of influenza viruses
  • There is no vaccine currently available for COVID-19, though it is in progress, but there is a vaccine available for the flu that is effective in preventing some of the most dangerous types and reducing its severity.

 Facial Coverings

 

Patients please be advised that all of NextCare and its family of brands locations are adhering to any local or state issued masking requirements.  While it is recommend for the safety of our patients and staff that all patients wear a mask while present in our clinics, you may be required to wear a mask while present in the clinic at certain locations as per local governing orders.


 

 

 

At our clinics, patient safety is our number one priority. With this in mind, we are now offering our Curbside Care program, which allows you to drive up, stay in your vehicle and let us come to you. We especially encourage patients experiencing COVID-19 or viral symptoms to utilize this service.  This will allow us to perform an evaluation and, should it be necessary, testing collections from the comfort and safety of your vehicle. Curbside Care allows our patients to practice social distancing and proper precautions while still being able to have their health needs evaluated. We recommend all patients book a time online at www.nextcare.com to help reduce your wait time at the clinic. To access curbside care please contact the clinic prior to visiting.

CLICK HERE TO SEE CURBSIDE CARE LOCATIONS


 

 

 

NextCare and its family of brands are dedicated to providing patients the most up-to-date information and treatment options to fight COVID-19. Many agree that testing (diagnostic and antibody) for the general population is an important component in managing the spread of the virus. We are taking the next step in this testing continuum and are now offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing! This new antibody testing is an important tool we can provide to our patients, which will help them to know if they may have had COVID-19 previously, and potentially identify the people they could have possibly put at risk. The complexity of the virus makes antibody testing very important, especially for those who may have had the virus and been asymptomatic.

Our antibody testing process is both easy and safe. This test is completed through the collection of a blood sample. Patients can check-in online in advance to help reduce wait times. As an additional safety measure, we are offering antibody testing at many of our locations with an alternative entrance to provide a safe and sanitary environment.

CLICK HERE TO SEE COVID-19 ANTIBODY TESTING LOCATIONS


Tele Health

 

NextCare and its family of brands are dedicated to creating a safe and accessible healthcare environment for patients.  To continue to serve our communities while we face COVID-19, we are excited to announce we are expanding our services to offer Telehealth.  You can access a provider from the comfort of your home or office with your web browser via the HIPAA secure platform.  We accept most major insurances, cash pay and medical discount program members.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE A LIST OF MARKETS WE CURRENTLY OFFER TELEHEALTH SERVICES IN.


Tele Health Care During Stay At Home Orders

 

NextCare and its family of brands are here for you during the multiple “Stay at Home” and “Shelter in Place” orders issued by many states across the country. While it is important to adhere to these orders and practice social distancing, the orders also recommend that you address your healthcare needs. We are here to help you accomplish that in a responsible way. Obtaining necessary healthcare is deemed as an “essential service” and is permitted during these orders. To address the current COVID-19 challenges and provide safe and accessible care for you, NextCare is providing multiple patient focused models of care, safety and convenience measures.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR STAY AT HOME CARE RESOURCES


 

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

Can I be tested for COVID-19 for travel clearance?

Yes we do offer specimen collection send-out testing service for individuals who need clearance to travel.  Due to fluctuating turn-around-times with many reference labs we recommend coming in for testing far in advance of your travel date to allow time for results to be provided to our clinics prior to your travel date.

Should I wash my mask? How often? How do I safely remove it?

The answer to whether or not you should wash your mask is of course, yes! Masks should be washed on a regular basis depending on the frequency of use and using a washing machine should suffice as a proper way to clean and sterilize your mask. It is also recommended that you should be careful to refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth, when removing the mask from your face and be sure to wash your hands immediately after.

Why should I use a cloth facemask?

The cloth face coverings the CDC recommends, are not the surgical masks you see at the doctor’s office or N-95 respirators. The CDC recommends using a homemade or cloth face coverings, as the surgical masks or N-95 respirators are critical supplies that we must help preserve for the medical and healthcare workers. Cloth face coverings are simple to make at home and provide the protection we need while we continue to help our healthcare system and workers in the process.

How do I use a facemask properly?

The CDC has recently recommended that all people wear a cloth face mask in public settings to slow the spread of the virus, because even those who do not experience symptoms right away, may be carrying COVID-19 and not know. Facemasks come in a variety of forms, from the ones normally seen worn by medical professionals, to the ones you can make at home, so it’s easy to see why you may have some questions as to if you are doing it right. The CDC has made some recommendations on how to wear your mask and who shouldn’t be wearing them, so we have listed them below.

How to wear a cloth face covering:

  • It should fit snugly but also be comfortable around the side of the face
  • It should be secured with ties or ear loops
  • It’s important that it includes multiple layers of fabric
  • It should allow you to breathe easily and without any restriction
  • It should also be able to be washed and machined dried without any damage or change to shape or size

Who shouldn’t wear a mask?

It’s noted that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

How do I prepare my home and family?

In this unprecedented time, it’s crucial that we feel safe and prepared to protect and help our families. In addition to following the guidelines under, “How to protect yourself”, the CDC has listed a few ideas to help you feel more prepared to handle the virus and ensure your family’s safety.

  • Create a plan of action to protect you and your family’s health and talk it over with the people who need to be included, so everyone is on the same page.
  • Put a plan in place to help care for those who are at greater risk for serious complications, in particular, older adults and those with medical conditions related to their heart, lungs or kidneys.
  • Get to know your neighbors and find out if there is any community website or social media platform that can help all he local residents stay in touch.
  • Create a list of emergency contacts that include family, healthcare providers, neighbors and other community resources.

What is the risk of my child becoming sick and are the symptoms different?

The CDC reports that based on evidence so far, children do not appear to have any heightened risk for COVID-19 than adults have. Now while some children and infants may have contracted the virus, adults currently make up the majority of cases we have seen. There are other groups of people and those with underlying health conditions that may be at higher risk and that is described in greater detail under “Who is at risk?”.

So far the symptoms of COVID-19 in children are similar to those we have seen in adults. It has also been noted that children who are confirmed to have had the virus, tend to show mild symptoms that consist of a fever, runny nose and cough; vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. It is also unknown at this time whether some children with underlying health conditions are at a greater risk for severe illness, but there is still much information to be gathered about the impact COVID-19 has on children.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

The possibility of warm weather playing a significant role in reducing the rate of transmission of COVID-19 is a topic that has gained a lot of traction. However, at this point the CDC reports it is not yet known what affect the weather and temperature will have on COVID-19. It is not unusual for other viruses that cause the common cold and flu, to spread more in the cold weather months than they do in the warm weather months. This does not however, mean it’s impossible to become sick during the warm weather months, so with new information still being gathered on the topic, no definite determination has been made on the potential role a change in weather may have.

What is the coronavirus or COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified and it is not the same coronavirus that we commonly see circulating and causing mild illness, such as the common cold. The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a fairly new respiratory illness that was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. The unfamiliar nature of COVID-19 has lent itself to a variety of unknowns and with new information coming available on a daily basis, the situation is rapidly evolving.

What is the source of the virus and how does it spread?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in people but there are other coronaviruses that only infect animals. In rare circumstances, animal coronaviruses have emerged and began to infect people and this is what is suspected to have happened in the case of COVID-19. As a source of reference, both the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are examples of coronaviruses that have previously originated in animals and spread to people.

As far as how it spreads, the CDC reports it is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet). COVID-19 can also be spread through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes and these droplets can land in the noses, mouths or be inhaled into the lungs of those nearby.

Who is at risk?

Risk for COVID-19 is a subject that has the ability to sway one way or another on an almost everyday basis. It has been noted that people living in places where community spread is occurring are at a higher risk, along with healthcare workers caring for those who are sick. In addition, based on evidence that has been gathered at this point, the CDC has broken down where and whom it deems to be at risk of exposure, while also emphasizing the risk of severe illness in patients that have certain underlying health problems or are at a certain age. The CDC breakdown is below:

Risk of Exposure:

  • Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all 50 states
  • People living in places where on-going community spread of the virus has been reported, are at an elevated risk of exposure, with the level of risk being dependent on location.
  • Healthcare workers or those in close contact with COVID-19 patients are also at an elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected US and international locations were community spread is occurring are at an elevated risk of exposure.

Risk of Severe Illness:

With the level of knowledge we currently have on COVID-19, there are certain sections of our population that are more prone to having severe complications. The CDC reports that older adults over the age of 65 and those who live in a nursing home or long-term health facility are at increased risk. As previously mentioned, individuals with underlying medical conditions are also at a heightened risk, in particular if the conditions are not well controlled. Here is a list of those conditions:

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised:
  • Conditions that can lead to those being immunocompromised include, smoking, cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation and poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, among others.
  • People who are severely obese or those who have a BMI of 40 or higher
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

How to protect yourself

The Coronavirus has presented a unique set of challenges in the way it is spreading and how it has impacted many different parts of the world. Given what we know, there are some everyday precautions that can be taken to help you protect yourself and your family. The CDC lists the following ways to help protect yourself and others:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Wear a facemask
  • Clean and disinfect

As mentioned under the “Who is at risk?” question, there are certain age groups and medical conditions that may make you higher risk for suffering from a severe illness and the CDC has recommended they take additional precautions. It is advised that you stock up on essential items, keep a little extra space between yourself and others while in public and avoid crowds as much as possible.

Should I wear a face mask or use hand sanitizer?

Since the announcement of COVID-19 there has been an increase in the number of citizens seeking face masks and wearing them in public and at home. The CDC now recommends that all people should be wearing a cloth facemask when they go out in public to help reduce the risk of spreading it. Part of this recommendation falls on the complexity of COVID-19, because even those who do not feel sick or are not expressing symptoms, may still have the virus and be able to spread it. The CDC lists the following points for using a cloth mask or face cover:

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example when they go to the grocery store. It is also noted that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face mask in not a substitute for social distancing.

What are the symptoms related to COVID-19?

The Coronavirus is an infectious respiratory illness that has shown to provide different levels of severity and symptoms on a person to person basis. The symptoms associated with the virus are known to appear within 2-14 days after exposure and the symptoms have ranged from mild to severe illness and even death in some cases. The following symptoms have been commonly associated with COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The CDC has also developed some emergency warning signs for COVID-19 and if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breathe
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

COVID-19 and the Flu

With COVID-19 and the Flu having shown to produce similar symptoms, the two have been linked together from the beginning. Both COVID-19 and the Flu are infectious respiratory illnesses and share some of the same characteristics so it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Some of the similarities they share are in the symptoms, as they are both known to cause fever, cough, body aches and fatigue. Both illnesses can also result in pneumonia and are not able to be treated by antibiotics since they are viruses and antibiotics only work on bacterial infections. It is key to note as well, that COVID-19 is caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, while the flu is caused by a variety of different types and strains of influenza.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Please visit our nearest clinic (CLICK HERE FOR LOCATIONS) to be seen. We recommend you call in advance or notify staff immediately upon arrival of your symptoms and request a procedure mask.  Once you’ve made contact with clinic staff they will provide you further instruction for care.  At the provider’s discretion you may be screened for Influenza A, B, and Strep as a qualifying measure for a COVID-19 test collection.  If it is determined necessary by a provider and we have test collection supplies in stock, a collection may be performed for a COVID-19 test.  The collected test sample will then be sent out to a commercial lab for testing and analysis.

Can I be tested at any of NextCare or its family of brands clinics?

COVID-19 Testing/Rapid Testing: Our clinics primarily serve as collection sites which means if a patient meets the provider-determined criteria to order a test for COVID-19, a sample collection may be conducted at our clinics and be sent offsite for testing at an official lab where the final results will be determined. However, we do offer Rapid Testing at clinics where resources are available that provide patients results in as little as 15 minutes and allows our providers to make the most appropriate and efficient treatment recommendations and infection control decisions. Due to limited supplies, at this time we are reserving these tests for patients who have met provider-determined criteria based on CDC priority.

When does NextCare offer a testing procedure for COVID-19?

COVID-19 Testing/Rapid Testing: First and foremost during a clinic visit, one of NextCare’s providers must determine a patient exhibits the appropriate symptoms or meets provider-determined criteria based on CDC priority to administer a collection service or Rapid Test. Secondly, the clinic must have the resources in place to perform the collection or Rapid Test.

What is my financial responsibility for a visit that may require one of the testing procedures available at NextCare’s clinics for COVID-19?

COVID-19 Testing/Rapid Testing: Many insurances are covering the patient cost share portion of COVID-19 related visits.  We will bill your insurance for any services rendered at our clinic.  If your insurance processes with any patient responsibility, we will send a bill for that portion only.  Any charges from the outside lab vendors will be billed through that outside lab and patient responsibility will be determined through them.

COVID-19 and Animals

When it comes to our animals, they are considered important members of our families, so this is what we know so far. The CDC reports, that although COVID-19 is thought to have originated from an animal source, there is no evidence to suggest that animals or pets are a source of infection from the virus in the United States. As of now, there have been no reports of any animals or pets being infected by the Coronavirus or becoming sick, and there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus. We are still in the early stages and gathering new information, so it is recommended that you wash your hands after handling or being around your pets to minimize any risk.

If you do become sick from COVID-19, it is best to restrict contact with any of your pets for the duration of the illness, similar to how you would limit contact with people. Although we have no evidence at this time to suggest the virus is a threat to our animals, it is best to take extra precautions while new information is coming out and more studies are done.

If you are sick and must care for your animals, please wash your hands as often as possible, before and after your interactions and if you have access to a facemask, it is recommended that you wear it during the course of your interaction.

 

*Disclaimer – NextCare is working rapidly to secure resources to offer the COVID-19 collection service at as many locations as possible. NextCare cannot guarantee this service will be available at every location. NextCare will only administer this service when a provider determines it necessary and resources are available to conduct the collection service.

https://www.cdc.gov/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu

https://www.who.int/