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Saturday, March 28, 2020

How to Slow Down the Spread of COVID-19: Droplet Precautions


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illnesses. It is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.1 Because COVID-19 patients are bogging down the healthcare systems of many countries like China, Italy, Spain, and now the United States, slowing down the spread of the virus is of the utmost importance. By slowing down the spread of the virus, we can make sure hospitals are not overwhelmed and hospital staff have enough manpower and resources to take care of infected patients. Taking droplet precautions is one of the best ways to slow down the spread of COVID-19.





    What are droplet precautions?

    Transmission based precautions are taken to prevent infection transmission.

    There are three types of transmission based-precautions:
    • Contact precautions 
    • Airborne precautions 
    • Droplet precautions 

    Droplet precautions are recommended for infections that spread when an infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes and releases saliva and mucus droplets.2 Such infections include the common cold, influenza (the flu), and coronaviruses, like COVID-19.

    Why are droplet precautions important for COVID-19?

    COVID-19 or Coronavirus droplet precautions are especially important for COVID-19 for three reasons:
    1. Easy transmission. Many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms similar to those of the common cold or flu. These people can easily go about their daily lives spreading the virus and not even know it.
    2. Transmission from low-risk to high-risk. The CDC defines high-risk individuals as “older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.”3 Because the virus can cause severe respiratory illness and even death, it’s extremely important that low-risk people do not spread the virus to high-risk ones.
    3. Bogged down hospitals. Many or most hospitals in countries where the virus has spread are at their patient max. Resources are running low and ventilators are in high demand. By taking droplet precautions, we can slow down the spread of the virus and give hospitals a chance to better take care of infected people.
    These three reasons are why countries, including the United States, have recommended that people stay inside as much as possible - only leaving home to go to the grocery store or pharmacy.

    What precautions should people take?

    As previously mentioned, the virus is spread between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.1 It’s extremely important for people to know how the virus is spread because it enables them to take precautions to protect themselves and others.

    Precautions you can take to protect yourself are:4
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water after you’ve been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • Use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Avoid close contact with sick people
    • Practice social distancing of 6 feet or more

    Precautions you can take to protect others are:4
    • Stay home if you’re sick
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze (cough or sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue)
    • Throw away used tissues
    • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after you cough or sneeze
    • Wear a facemask if you’re sick
    • Thoroughly clean and disinfect frequently touched or dirty surfaces

    It is also recommended that people follow the advice of their local healthcare leaders and adhere to mandates issued by the local and federal government.

    Also, older adults and high risks individuals can take advantage of telemedicine options to avoid going to the doctor’s office for appointments. Telemedicine programs allow for continuity of care at a time when older adults and high-risk individuals are vulnerable to the virus and access to care is limited.


    What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:6
    • Fever
    • Tiredness
    • Dry cough

    Other symptoms include:6
    • Shortness of breath
    • Aches and pains
    • Sore throat
    • Diarrhea, nausea, runny nose (reported by very few people)

    People experience symptoms to varying degrees. As previously mentioned, people may experience no symptoms or mild symptoms. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. People who develop emergency symptoms should get immediate medical attention.

    Emergency symptoms include but are not limited to:7
    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent chest pain or pressure
    • Confusion or inability to arouse
    • Blue lips or face

    The CDC also recommends that people consult their healthcare provider for any severe or concerning symptoms.8

    What to do if you get sick?

    You should call your doctor if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms. Tell them your symptoms and they will give your instructions on what to do. Your doctor may recommend that you take a test.

    If you have or think you have COVID-19, it is extra important that you stay inside and away from others. You should monitor your symptoms and contact your doctor if they get worse.

    If you do not have a test, you can leave home after three things happen:8
    • You have no fever (without the use of medicines that reduce fever) for at least 72 hours
    • Other symptoms have improved
    • At least 7 days have passed since your first symptoms appeared

    If you are tested, you can leave home after three things happen:
    • You have no fever (without the use of medicines that reduce fever) for at least 72 hours
    • Other symptoms have improved
    • You test negative twice in a row, 24 hours apart

    The decision to leave home should always be made with your doctor and the local health department.

    COVID-19 Stats

    Worldwide. There are currently 402,054 cases worldwide.9 There have been 17,507 deaths.9 103,820 infected people have recovered.9

    The United States of America. There are 33,404 cases. 10 400 total deaths have occurred.10

    Droplet Precautions Conclusion

    Droplet precautions should be taken to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Remember, COVID- 19 may produce little to no symptoms, so it’s important to take droplet precautions even if you don’t think you’re infected. Take extra caution when around high-risk individuals, which include the elderly and people with preexisting chronic medical conditions. When everyone does their part, we should see results and be able to return to our normal everyday lives as soon as possible.

    References

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CoronaVirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): How it Spreads.” 4 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/prepare/transmission.html.
    2. Virginia Department of Health. “Frequently Asked Questions about… Droplet Precautions (For patients, family members, and visitors).” 2011. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/13/2016/03/DropletPrecautionsPatients.pdf.
    3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Are You at a Higher Risk for Disease Illness?” 20 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk- complications.html.
    4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “How to Protect Yourself.” 18 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html.
    5. NewsWire. “Vohra Wound Physicians Announces Increased Access to Telemedicine Amid COVID-19 Developments.” 18 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.newswire.com/news/vohra-wound- physicians-announces-increased-access-to-telemedicine-amid-21113801.
    6. World Health Organization. “Corona Virus: Symptoms.” Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_3.
    7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Symptoms.” 20 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms- testing/symptoms.html.
    8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What To do if You Are Sick.” 16 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.
    9. Worldometer. “COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.” 24 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.
    10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19): Cases in U.S.” 23 Mar. 2020. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html.


    Author: Jeff Oescher

    Jeff Oescher worked for over 6 years as an orthopedic clinical associate and case technician. He now works as a medical writer for Vohra Wound Physicians, a national wound care physician group.

    That's all for today!
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