What is the Coronavirus COVID-19?
The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. 1
The first case of the Coronavirus in the United States was confirmed on January 21, 2020. 1 The number of those exposed will change daily. So it’s recommended to visit CDC.gov for the most current count of COVID-19 in the United States.
How severe is the global threat?
Globally, the situation is being deemed a Pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The three factors that determine a pandemic are: 2
- Causing illness, including illness resulting in death
- Person-to-person spread
- Worldwide spread
Although government agencies and communities are taking precautions, such as implementing travel restrictions and quarantine parameters, COVID-19 is tough to detect during early incubation periods, which is helping it to spread globally.1
The World Health Organization is reporting that globally, the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high and provides the latest mortality rate and number of confirmed cases in its daily Situation report.
Until a vaccine is developed, the coronavirus outbreak is raising far more questions than epidemiologists can answer. Currently, experts are using modeled data collected during past epidemics – like H1N1 in 2009 or Ebola in 2014 – but there are no guarantees the current outbreak will follow the same trajectory.3
Who is at the highest risk of being infected with the Coronavirus?
It’s important to keep in mind that the risk to individuals is dependent on exposure. According to the CDC1, the people at highest risk are:
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19
- Travelers returning from affected international locations
Because the situation is changing daily, its recommended to stay informed by visiting the CDC or World Health Organization websites for up-to-date information. Additionally, consumers can check local government and college or university websites for news specific to theirregion.
What can I do if I’ve been exposed to Coronavirus COVID-19?
For those who may have been exposed to Coronavirus COVID-19 and are showing symptoms of sickness with fever at 100.4°F/38°C or higher, cough, or trouble breathing, please contact your healthcare provider immediately.1
Wellfleet will cover all student member costs for COVID-19. We’ll waive all co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance. Similar to a preventive visit, like your annual physical, you’ll have no out-of-pocket costs for your testing and treatment through May 31, 2020.
Wellfleet Student members, should contact their student health centers or visit their school’s page on WellfleetStudent.com to find a provider. When contacting, be sure to advise them of your recent travel and symptoms and try to avoid contact with others.
For student members who are typically required to report to their Student Health Center for care or referrals, this requirement is waived. They can seek testing or treatment for the Coronavirus at any local medical facility. This includes emergency room, urgent care and office visits. There is no need for referral.
How can I protect myself from being infected with COVID-19?
The CDC recommends that you take the following preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory virus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Should I order protective facemasks?
You may be wondering if you should wear a surgical facemask or respirator. Currently, the World Health Organization and the CDC do not recommend that people in the U.S., who do not have the coronavirus or do not care for those with COVID-19, wear face masks in public to prevent infection.4,5
The main reason for this is the low number of cases in the U.S. and unnecessary bulk purchases are creating a world-wide shortage of masks. As a result, front line workers like doctors and nurses ill-equipped to care for patients.
However, if you’re still not sure whether or not to wear a protective mask, the World Health organization has some great video resources.
Should I cancel my travel plans?
As a result of the spread, an increasing number of travel advisories have been issued by countries around the world, urging caution for select destinations, and discouraging travel to others. As a result, its recommended to do your research before any foreign travel. For the latest information on travel advisories, visit Travel.State.Gov.6
Although airline carriers are stepping up their sanitation efforts to quell the virus’ spread, consumers must be vigilant and understand the potential risks to their health when considering travel.
Similarly, consumers should take their finances into account. While its unlikely travel insurance polices will allow for refunds, it’s worth making a few phone calls, as some hotels and airlines are relaxing their cancellation policies to account for the coronavirus.6