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specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian
Medical Group Westchester and an assistant
professor of medicine at Columbia
University Vagelos College of Physicians
If you think you may have been exposed
to a person with COVID-19 and
have symptoms, before going to a doctor’s
office or emergency room, call
ahead and tell them about your symptoms
and any recent travel. You can
also utilize a virtual care platform,
such as NewYork-Presbyterian’s NYP
OnDemand, to meet with a healthcare
professional by video conference. Depending
on the severity of your symptoms,
your doctor will determine
whether or not you need to come in to
be evaluated. Avoid contact with others
and wear a face mask if you need to
Keep things clean
Preventative measures are your
first line of defense. The best way to
protect yourself from COVID-19 is to
practice good hygiene and to make
these CDC recommendations part of
and water for at least 20 seconds, especially
after going to the bathroom;
before eating; and after blowing your
nose, coughing, or sneezing.
available, use an alcohol-based hand
sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always
wash hands with soap and water
who are sick.
a tissue, then throw the tissue in the
trash and wash your hands. If you
don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze
into your elbow, rather than into your
touched objects and surfaces.
Visit the CDC for guidelines on
how to properly wash your hands and
use hand sanitizer. (Yes, there’s plenty
of science behind this basic habit.)
What about face masks?
You may have noticed a growing
number of people out and about with
their faces covered, but the CDC does
not currently recommend the use of
face masks among the general public.
As noted above, face masks should
be used by people who show COVID-19
symptoms to help prevent the spread of
the disease to others. The use of face
masks is also crucial for health workers
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Since the December outbreak
in Wuhan, China, the new coronavirus
has spread rapidly, with more
than 118,000 confirmed cases in 114
countries as of early March. According
to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), the virus that
causes the disease known as COVID-19
seems to be spreading in the community
in certain affected geographic areas.
As with any virus, however, there
are simple steps you can take to protect
Know the signs
The symptoms of infection for the
new coronavirus are often similar to
those of other respiratory virus infections,
such as influenza. Symptoms
can include fever, cough, or shortness
of breath. Most people will only have
mild symptoms, but some can become
very sick. When person-to-person
spread has occurred with other novel
coronaviruses that caused diseases
such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
(MERS), it is thought to have
happened mainly via respiratory droplets
produced when an infected person
coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza
and other respiratory pathogens
spread. Spread of MERS and
SARS has generally occurred between
people in close contact.
“The means of transmission is
similar: through respiratory droplets
produced when a person coughs
or sneezes, or by direct physical contact
with an infected person, such as
shaking hands,” says Dr. David Goldberg,
internist and infectious disease
leave your home when you are sick.
if hands are visibly dirty.
and mouth with unwashed hands.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90SAPG0033,
from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201.
and people who are taking care of
someone in close settings (at home or
in a health care facility).
Plan your travel accordingly
The CDC recommends avoiding
all nonessential travel to mainland
China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.
Older adults and those with chronic
medical conditions should consider
postponing nonessential travel to Japan.
“For people at risk for the complications
of COVID-19, such as those
with underlying medical conditions or
those who are older, it may be prudent
to avoid any long-distance travel,” says
Dr. Goldberg.Keep in mind, layovers
at airports in these destinations also
count. If a layover is unavoidable, the
CDC recommends that travelers not
leave the airport. Travelers with layovers
may still be subject to screening
and monitoring when entering the
Stay up to date with CDC’s travel
health notices related to this outbreak.
How NewYork-Presbyterian is
Rest assured, NewYork-Presbyterian
is following the situation closely
and implementing all recommendations
provided by our local and state
departments of health and the CDC.
Our medical staff is trained to recognize
patients who may have COVID-19
and to keep the new virus from spreading.
Yes, you can still visit family or
friends at NewYork-Presbyterian. We
understand how important the support
of loved ones and friends is to patients
during their hospital stay. At
the same time, the new coronavirus
visiting policy in order to keep our patients
and visitors safe from infection.
Please visit NYP.org for updated visitor
If you or your family are experiencing
COVID19 symptoms, such as: cough,
fever, or trouble breathing, healthcare is
at your fingertips with NewYork-Presbyterian
Hospital’s Virtual Urgent Care.
Our app lets you see a board-certified
physician from Columbia University
Irving Medical Center or Weill
Cornell Medicine right on your phone,
tablet, or computer, seven days a week:
This article first appeared on New-
York-Presbyterian’s Health Matters