COVID-19 Questions Our Patients Are Asking
By Paladina Health Providers
We asked our providers what questions they're hearing from patients regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions along with answers from our team of physicians.
Why should I even get a COVID-19 test? What can be done for me anyway?
There are a couple of things to consider with this question, and unfortunately it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.
For example, a healthcare worker who develops symptoms should absolutely be tested so they can either be appropriately isolated or return to work to help care for more patients.
For the general population not working in healthcare, it is most useful to gather further data for the future. If COVID-19 continues to be a problem in the coming years, more information on positive cases and spread will help us to prepare better to handle it for the foreseeable future.
Finally, in order to really know how deadly this virus is and how at-risk our population is, we always need more data. Is COVID-19 really killing 3-4% of people it infects? Is the number actually lower or higher than this? Which percentage of those people are in my age range, with my risk factors and my gender? We can only figure this out through testing individuals.
How can I get tested for COVID-19?
If high volume testing is available in your area by drive through and your symptoms are mild or moderate, this is the safest option to limit the risk of spreading it to healthcare personnel or contaminating healthcare offices. This is also the most efficient means of preserving limited resources such as personal protective equipment and testing supplies.
However, states and localities are limiting even drive-through testing to certain individuals so you may need to call your local or state department of health or your Paladina provider to determine if you are an individual who the state is interested in testing. Also, if you are not able to get test results in a timely manner in your community by commercial lab, the decision not to test may be the wiser option. Your Paladina provider can help you make that determination based on your symptoms, risk factors, and the resources available to you in your community.
How worried should I really be?
This virus deserves a fair amount of respect and we are encouraging patients to be part of the solution rather than the problem. From what we know currently, about 80% of positive cases will be “mild”, though “mild” is a misnomer. These patients are only considered “mild” because they do not need oxygen support from a hospital bed, but they are generally pretty miserable and reporting it is worse than the flu.
The other 20% will need hospitalization with 6-8% who are severe and in need of use of a ventilator. As a thought experiment, picture the largest city in your region (Seattle, LA, New York, etc.), and now try to put 20% of them (1 in 5!) in the hospital. Try to put 6-8% of them on ventilators. What results is a pretty substantial math problem. Healthcare resources are already being exhausted in some places, and hospitals are running out of equipment to protect their workers and to keep their patients alive.
Being part of the solution means limiting the spread. Without following isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and proper hygiene guidance, most models suggest each case of COVID-19 would spread to 2-3 additional people. Only you can limit its spread. Your Paladina provider is here to partner with you if you need more guidance on how you can play your part.
What is my risk for having severe disease?
Certain individuals are at high risk for complications of COVID-19 such as hospitalization, need for a ventilator, or death. If you are a high risk individual, please notify your employer if you are not working from home. Your employer may be able to accommodate requests from high-risk individuals to limit your exposure risk. High risk individuals include:
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
- People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk.
OK, you’ve convinced me. How do I keep it from spreading?
If you are ill or think you are ill, you should immediately go home and follow strict self-isolation guidelines and contact your Paladina provider immediately. Your provider is available to you 24/7. If you know you were closely in contact with a positive individual you may need to quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms. Your Paladina provider can provide you with guidance on this.
If you are not ill but simply concerned please follow directives and instructions from your state and community regarding social distancing, proper hygiene, and travel restrictions. “Social distancing” means stay in your home unless you absolutely must leave to go to the doctor, to get groceries, or to do something else which is utterly necessary. Ask yourself before you leave, “Do I really need to do this now?” When you’re out, stay at least 6 feet away from other people. Do not touch your face. Wash your hands for a full 20 seconds after touching possibly contaminated surfaces. And, while this can be a scary time, do not panic. Likewise, your employer should be working to limit the risk of spread in your workplace
Why am I stuck in quarantine for 14 days when my friend who exposed me was released back to work after 7 days when his/her symptoms improved?
Your friend was already diagnosed with the COVID-19 illness or presumed to have this illness. We know that after someone has no fever for 3 days without medications like acetaminophen and their symptoms are improving AND it has been 7 days since their symptoms started, they can be released from isolation and possibly back to work.
Their time of 7 days or more secluded from others to not expose family or friends is called isolation. On the other hand, someone who is exposed (you) can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms of the infection. So, the 14 day wait, called quarantine, is needed to see if you will develop symptoms. If you develop symptoms, you will then fall under the isolation guidelines.
For the latest information about COVID-19 including how it spreads, prevention, treatment, and symptoms, visit the CDC's website. Printable PDFs on "What You Need to Know" and "What to Do if You are Sick" are available in English, and Spanish.
As a current or eligible member, if you’re experiencing any symptoms related to the flu or COVID-19, call a clinic near you first, and your local care team will guide you through the appropriate course of care.