Coronavirus: Safety Tips for You
March 3, 2020
We know this is a stressful time and people want to know what they can do right now to protect themselves and their families. Here are some everyday health safety and preparedness steps that people in the U.S. can take now in response to coronavirus concerns.
LIMIT THE SPREAD OF GERMS AND PREVENT INFECTION
There are common sense steps we can all take to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus:
- Get your flu vaccine.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
- Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
- Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are healthy wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who are ill to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
- The use of facemasks is also crucial forhealth workersandpeople who are taking care of someone in close settings(at home or in a health care facility).
GET YOUR HOUSEHOLD READY
There are things you can do right now to be ready for any emergency, and many of these same tips will help you prepare as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve in the U.S.
- Have a supply of food staples and household supplies like laundry detergent and bathroom items, and diapers if you have small children.
- Check to make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your prescription medications, and have other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
- Know how your local public health agency will share information.Find more information here.
- Learn how your children’s schools and your place of work plan to handle any outbreak.
- People with elderly parents or relatives should have a plan in place for caring for them if they fall ill.
- Help family members and neighbors get prepared and share the safety messaging with those who may not have access to it.
According to the CDC, patients with COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have the disease or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of the disease.
For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.
If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found through the World Health Organization and by following your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society’s social media channels.
An outbreak of a new coronavirus disease in 2019 (COVID-19) that began in Wuhan, China has been developing since December 2019. This outbreak now includes over 100,000 casesgloballyand has become widespread in a number ofcountries.
Update: Hawaii is launching a statewide surveillance testing program to identify cases of community spread of the new coronavirus. For more information see:COVID-19 Sentinel Surveillance.
The virus is primarily spread by prolonged close contact when respiratory droplets from an infected person pass to an uninfected person. The symptoms of the disease can include fever, cough or shortness of breath. There is no vaccine for the disease and no specific treatment besides supportive care. The best way to prevent the disease from spreading is to practice good hygiene (e.g., washing your hands and covering your cough) and social distancing (i.e., reducing the potential for close contact between people who are sick and people who are healthy).
If you become ill with a fever or cough,andhave recently left an area havingwidespread community transmissionof COVID-19orhave had prolonged close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19:
- Stay home and avoid contact with others.
- If you think you may need medical care, try to call ahead to the doctor’s office or an emergency room and let them know about your symptoms and travel or contact history.
- If you need immediate medical care, call 911.
If you prefer to speak to someone about COVID-19 you can call Aloha United Way at 2-1-1.
Trained operators are available from 7am – 10pm to answer all COVID-19 questions.
Cases in Hawaii:
There have been seven cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaii. See “Impact in Hawaii” below for more details about these cases.
The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) isurging all residents to prepare for the possibility that COVID-19 could spread in our communities (see ‘What Can I Do?’, below).
As of 9:30 AM, March 16, 2020 there have been 3,487 total cases detected in 49 of 50 states (and 4 other US jurisdictions) through public health surveillance systems. This represents an increase of 1,858 cases over a 3-day period.
(Note: Numbers are updated once daily from official CDC counts and may differ from media counts as new cases are identified by local jurisdictions.)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmedwidespread community transmissionof COVID-19 in a number of other countries and the situation is changing rapidly.
The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) isurging all residents to avoid travel to areas with a high burden of the disease and reconsider any travel if you are elderly or have underlying medical conditions.
If you are considering international travel, checkCDC’s Travelers’ Health websitefor country-specific health information and alerts and theU.S. State Department Travel websitefor travel restrictions that may affect your itinerary.
Impact in Hawaii
On March 13th and 14th, five presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 were identified in Hawaii. Two of the cases were reported from Kauai, two from Oahu, and one from Maui. All the cases were related to travel outside of the state. This brings the total number of cases identified in Hawaii to seven.
The first presumptive positive case in Hawaii was identified on March 6, 2020. This individual was a visitor who was likely exposed while aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship. On March 8th, the second presumptive positive case of COVID-19 was identified in a resident who was hospitalized for the condition after returning to Hawaii from Washington State where the individual became ill.
There is no evidence of community spread at this time, but the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is working to identify all close contacts of these cases and monitoring the health of people who may have been exposed.
Screening is being conducted at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) by federal authorities to identify travelers from countries with restrictions that require quarantine or public health supervision.
Anyone arriving in Hawaii after having having traveled toareas with widespread sustained community transmissionare being asked to stay home and monitor their health for 14 days from the time they left the affected area.
What can I do?
- Protectyourself and your family from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.
- Preparefor what to do if COVID-19 becomes widespread in our communities.
Protect– Followingeveryday preventiveactions can prevent or slow down the spread of respiratory illness in the community:
- Stay home if you start to feel ill
- Wash your hands often
- Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow
- Clean and disinfect
- Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household
- cleaning spray or wipe.
- Get the flu shot
- People with seasonal influenza will exhibit similar signs and symptoms as COVID-19 (fever and cough). If more people are protected against influenza, this will reduce confusion and the burden on our healthcare system.
Prepare– You can preparenowfor a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in Hawaii:
- Stock up on all prescription medications and other basic household items like food and cleaning products so you can care for yourself and your family at home if someone becomes ill. Supplies of these items may be affected in the event of a pandemic. Anyone who becomes ill and who is a household contact of someone who is ill should stay home and avoid social contact as much as possible.
- Plan for the possibility of school closures, cancelled events and activities.
- Consider talking to your employer about your organization’s strategies for preventing the spread of illness in the workplace (e.g., alternative scheduling, telecommuting, online meetings).
- Consider practicing basic social distancing measures like limiting your time spent around large groups and avoiding unnecessary close contact with people (e.g., handshakes, aloha kiss).
If you are planning on traveling, you should stay informed of the latesttravel alerts and information related to COVID-19for the area you are traveling to. Additionally,CDC recommends that all persons should defer any travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide because of the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard ships.
Travelers from areas where there isconfirmed widespread community transmissionshould:
- Self-monitor their health for 14 days after they left that location
- Watch your health, and if you have a thermometer, take your temperature 2 times a day
- Remain at home and practice social distancing
- Avoid large gatherings
- Maintain a distance of approximately 6 feet from others as much as possible
If you become ill with a fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher) or cough, andhave recently left an area havingwidespread community transmissionof COVID-19 or have had prolonged close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19:
- Stay home and avoid contact with others except for seeking medical care.
- If you need medical care, call ahead to your doctor’s office or an emergency room and let them know about your travel history. If you need emergent medical care, call 911.
- If you have difficulty accessing medical care or have questions about how to care for yourself at home, call HDOH at (808) 586-4586.
What HDOH is doing
Vigilance and Monitoring
- We are actively working to detect potential cases of COVID-19 as early as possible by monitoring our disease surveillance systems to identify persons that require investigation and testing and are reviewing internal protocols to ensure proper management of cases.
- We are working with our federal airport partners (U.S. Customs and Border Protections and CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine) who are performing enhanced screening to identify travelers returning from China. Our disease investigation staff are actively monitoring these individuals with daily phone calls to record their temperature and confirm that they are avoiding contact with the public.
- We are in constant communication with the CDC, public health partners in other jurisdictions, and our local legislators and state officials to ensure Hawaii is aware of new developments in the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Over the past 15 years we have been developing and refining our respiratory disease surveillance systems following CDC guidelines. This system includes sentinel influenza-like illness surveillance sites, virologic surveillance, pneumonia and influenza associated mortality, and cluster/outbreak investigations. We are monitoring these systems on a daily basis looking for changes that might indicate the presence of COVID-19 in Hawaii.
Preparation and Prevention
- We are working with the medical community to issue Medical Advisories and Alerts and to ensure that hospitals and providers are following infection control recommendations and are prepared to detect and treat any patient with symptoms and travel history consistent with COVID-19.
- We are communicating regularly with our local partners in the travel industry and schools to address their concerns and ensure the latest and most accurate guidance and information are being shared with their staff (see Workplace Guidance and Guidance for Schools and Universities below).