The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising the public to be prepared if a coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak occurs in their community. Officials also want people to know it could last a long time.
An outbreak is defined as a time when a large number of people get sick.
Public health officials will likely recommend actions to reduce people’s exposure of being exposed to the virus to help slow the spread and reduce the impact, the CDC says. Pinellas County Department of Health has done so and county government has declared a local state of emergency.
Some people are at higher risk of getting seriously ill, including older adults and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. People at high-risk are advised to take actions to reduce their risk of getting sick, including staying at home if they can to reduce the risk of being exposed.
Those actions include stocking up on supplies, especially medications. Florida is under a state of emergency, which allows people to get refills early. At-risk people also should have plenty of over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies, such as tissues. They also should have enough household items and groceries to be able to stay home for an extended period.
In addition, at-risk people should avoid being close to others and if they have to go out in public, they need to keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash their hands often. Avoid crowds, cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
Everyone should take precautions to avoid becoming sick, including being in close contact with people who are sick. You should wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or if you’ve been in a public place. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Try not to touch your face, nose, eyes or mouth.
Avoid contact with high-touch surfaces in public places, such as elevator buttons, door handles or handrails. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger when you have to touch something. Don’t touch others — no handshaking, no high-fives, no hugs.
Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces, which can increase your expose to respiratory viruses. Avoid all non-essential travel, including plane trips and cruises.
Clean and disinfect your home. Make sure to routinely clean surfaces that are frequently touched, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones.
If COVID-19 is spreading in your community stay home as much as possible.
Everyone should have a plan just in case they get sick. If you get symptoms, fever, coughing, shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, confusion or bluish lips or face, call your health care provider or the state DOH’s hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
Many people will recover at home. Others may have to be hospitalized, especially those in the high-risk population. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and stay at home.
Older adults and people with disabilities may need additional help. Family members and caregivers need to monitor their medications and medical supplies, such as oxygen, incontinence, dialysis and wound care.
People who are sick should stay away from facilities that are home to high-risk individuals.
For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.