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Novel coronavirus is a type of virus that causes cold-like symptoms.
All colds are caused by viruses, and have names such as rhinovirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and coronavirus. Although coronavirus is a type of cold virus that causes an upper respiratory illness like most colds, a new, or “novel,” version of coronavirus began causing a respiratory illness that is sometimes worse than a cold. This new illness is called COVID-19 and has recently spread to the United States from China and other countries.
Since COVID-19 is new, it means that many people are likely to become infected with it. Our immune systems don’t know how to fight it very well yet. Most people with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms similar to a cold, but it is possible in rare cases to have severe illness requiring hospitalization. Just like all colds, this new version of coronavirus cannot be treated with antibiotics. The main things that can help while recovering at home are fever reducers, fluids, and rest.
If there are concerns about you or your child having COVID-19, it would be best to see a healthcare provider via video visit. This helps you or your child receive proper care, and it also keeps our patients in clinic safe so that they are not exposed to COVID-19 in our waiting room.
People who should be tested for the new strain of coronavirus include:
People who may have had exposure in the last 14 days AND have symptoms including fever, cough, or trouble breathing.
The symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to other conditions such as flu, colds, and allergies, comparing what happens with each of those conditions can be helpful:
Who Should Get Tested?
At this time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is monitoring the activity and spread of this new strain of coronavirus and states there is no need to perform testing in people who do not have confirmed exposure to the virus. The illness was first thought to spread from animals to humans, but it is now thought that it may spread between people as well. As the CDC discovers more information about this virus, we will announce any updates on our website.
Testing for COVID-19 can be done at certain laboratories and hospitals. Right now, healthcare providers are being advised to collect tests on patients who have recently traveled to certain areas or have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19 AND who have fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. They are also being encouraged to test people who have those symptoms who don’t have another illness causing them, such as flu or bacterial pneumonia. Until the ability to test for novel coronavirus becomes more widely available, we are making sure we are testing the sickest patients.
Hearing about a new virus that can cause severe illness is scary, but it hasn’t affected children as much as adults. Those at high risk of having a severe illness are older adults and those with chronic medical problems such as heart disease, lung problems, and diabetes. COVID-19 has had some outbreaks following people who have traveled overseas and on cruises, but so far, it has not been spreading from person to person in Texas. Since this could change quickly, stay aware of how this illness is spreading by following reliable news sources.
The treatment for the new strain of coronavirus is the same as any other cold—fever control, increasing fluids, and rest. There are no medications that specifically treat cold viruses. Our immune systems will fight these viruses.
Any concern for complications from a cold virus such as difficulty breathing, dehydration, extreme fatigue, or prolonged high fever should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
If you believe you or your child may have novel coronavirus based on the information above, please utilize our telemedicine services and not our physical location so we can triage you first
Flatten the Curve
Without social distancing, confirmed COVID-19 cases will increase exponentially, eventually crossing our hospital capacity threshold.
According to the CDC, the incubation period after exposure to the novel coronavirus can range from 2–14 days, and it is possible to still transfer the virus even if you aren’t showing symptoms. Social distancing is important because you could be spreading the virus without even knowing you have been infected.
The Washington Post (link below) has created simple animations to visually represent how social distancing can affect the population.
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds throughout the day, especially when there has been contact with people in public. Alcohol gel can be used if hand washing is not possible, but washing is best.
- Stay home when there are signs of illness such as fever, cough, or runny nose.
- Cough into the bend of the elbow instead of hands.
- Avoid touching your face—illnesses can find their way into your body through eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Only sick people should wear a mask when they have to be around other people. Healthy people are not protected from becoming sick when they wear a mask.
- Eat healthy foods and make sure all family members are getting enough sleep.