The novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19, is disrupting our lives, threatening to overwhelm our healthcare networks, and is killing at a rate about ten times greater than the annual flu. The virus is spread from person to person, mostly when someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their face. Face masks are not useful for avoiding COVID-19 and should not be bought to make sure there are enough for hospitals. It can take up to 14 days after exposure for a person to show symptoms, which can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In the United States, a large portion of hospital patients with COVID-19 are 20-54 years of age, but the risk of death is higher for people with pre-existing health conditions, particularly the elderly. Due to insufficient testing, we do not know how many people currently have COVID-19, but it is likely much more common than the official numbers.
We need to come together as a community to combat this disease and save as many lives as we can. The best way you can do that is to follow the advice of medical professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please find more information below.
Guidelines from the CDC
- Avoid close contact with people. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. To illustrate the importance of social isolation, visit this simulator on how the virus spreads.
- Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others. Click here for the CDC’s steps to follow if you are sick (PDF).
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands with soap and water often will help protect you from germs and prevent you from spreading germs to others. Click for CDC videos on how to properly wash hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
What to do if you think you are sick:
If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19, but stay calm. For most people, the illness is mild and they can recover at home without medical treatment. If you begin to have trouble breathing, contact your doctor right away. Otherwise, stay home, follow the Guidelines from the CDC listed above, and stay in self-quarantine until the following conditions from the CDC are met:
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours without the use of medicine that reduces fevers
- Other symptoms have improved
- At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared
If you think you have COVID-19 and should be tested, contact your primary care physician. Testing is currently being performed at Albany Medical Center, Albany Memorial Campus, and Saratoga Hospital, but ONLY for individuals with a prescription from a doctor for the test and who have scheduled an appointment. If you do not have a prescription, you can be screened online by going to https://sphp.zipnosis.com, selecting “Start a Visit,” then selecting “COVID-19 (Coronavirus),” “Respiratory Infections and Allergies.” If the screening indicates you need to be tested, you will be given a doctor prescription for testing. After you have a prescription, you can call Albany Med at 518-264-7400 to set up an appointment. After testing, stay in self-quarantine until you receive the results.
How can you help?
- If you are healthy and want to help out, go to https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/get-involved-how-you-can-help.
- Call friends and family to check on them, make sure they are following the CDC guidelines listed above, and to help break the loneliness of self-quarantine.
- Local hospitals are already running low on personal protective equipment (PPE), which is needed to keep patients and healthcare workers safe. To see how you can help, go to getusppe.org
- For information on donating goods, services, and space, please go to https://apps.health.ny.gov/pubpal/builder/survey/nys-covid19-tracking-offers
- United Way of the Greater Capital Region and the Community Foundation are co-leading the Capital Region Community COVID-19 Response Fund. This fund provides flexible resources to local organizations working with communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. To learn more or donate, go to https://www.unitedwaygcr.org/COVID-19.
Having a Hard Time Dealing with This Pandemic, or Am Depressed?
Pandemics can be emotionally damaging by creating anxiety, fear, and feelings of helplessness. Self-quarantine is lonely and can lead to depression. If you or someone you know needs help or wants to talk to someone, please call the Emotional Support Line at 844-863-9314. You can also find tips at https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/guidance/covid-19-managing-stress-anxiety.pdf and additional resources at https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/disaster_resources/pandemic_influenza/.
- For small businesses severely impacted by the pandemic, you can request assistance at http://nyssbdc.org/appointment.html, find helpful resources at https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance, and apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
- To report price gouging, the excessive pricing of necessary consumer goods and services during an emergency, complete the form at https://ag.ny.gov/price-gouging-complaint-form
- Due to the current crises, people will not be evicted from there homes. If you need housing assistance, call the HUD Albany Field Office at 518-862-2801 or the FHA Resource Center at 800-Call-FHA (800-225-5342)
- New York Attorney General Letitia James warned New Yorkers of potential scam calls offering goods and services related to COVID-19 or soliciting donations. Additional information can be found at https://ag.ny.gov/coronavirus
For More Information:
- For CDC updates on COVID-19, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- For general questions, call the New York State Coronavirus Hotline: 888-364-3065
- To see the most up to date information on where COVID-19 cases are, go to https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
- The NYS Department of Health COVID-19 website is https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/
- County Department of Health websites are:
- Albany https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/2019-novel-coronavirus
- Schenectady https://schenectadycounty.com/PublicHealth
- Saratoga https://www.saratogacountyny.gov/departments/publichealth/
- Rensselaer http://www.rensco.com/departments/public-health/
- Montgomery https://www.co.montgomery.ny.us/web/sites/departments/publichealth/default.asp