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BMH: Know the Dos and Don'ts of the coronavirus

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Editor's note: As the facts and situation around COVID-19 (commonly known as novel coronavirus) continue to evolve, Meredith Burt, RN, infection preventionist for Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, will provide bi-weekly updates to answer commonly-asked questions.

By Meredith Burt

- What should I do if I have been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Stay home except to get medical care. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas. If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people, even in your own home when others are in the same room. Be in touch with your Primary Care Provider, especially if you start to feel worse. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Be sure to let the dispatcher know that you have or think you have COVID-19.

- What is my role in helping proper social distancing?

- Take a step back from someone who stands too close to you.

- Ask someone who stands too close to you, to move back to the recommended 6-foot distance.

- Remind each other that you are standing apart for each other's protection.

Humans are social beings, social distancing will take practice and reminders to break life-long habits but it is the right thing to do for your health and the health of those around you.

- Is it safe to donate blood during this time?

In healthcare settings all across the United States, donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients. The need for donated blood is constant, and blood centers are open and in urgent need of donations. CDC encourages people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19. CDC is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe. Examples of these recommendations include spacing donor chairs 6 feet apart, thoroughly adhering to environmental cleaning practices, and encouraging donors to make donation appointments ahead of time.

To learn about local blood donor days visit www.redcrossblood.org and enter your zip code.

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- Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

According to the CDC, there is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States are a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it's always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene.

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Terminology:

Contact tracing: The practice of identifying and monitoring individuals who may have had contact with an infectious person as a means of controlling the spread of a communicable disease.

Novel virus: Refers to a virus not seen before. It can be a virus that is isolated from its natural reservoir or isolated as the result of spread to an animal or human host where the virus had not been identified before. It can be an emergent virus, one that represents a new strain, but it can also be an virus not previously identified.

Daily Reminders:

- Wash your hands often and for 20 seconds duration

- Wipe down and disinfect often-used surfaces

- Cough into your elbow and cover your mouth

- Don't touch your face, including eyes, nose, and mouth

- Maintain a distance of at least 6' from another person

Meredith Burt, RN, is an infection preventionist for Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.


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