What should you do if you think you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?

Patients who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms should call their primary care physician before they go to the doctor’s office or an urgent care center or emergency room to ensure that they need to be examined or tested for COVID19, and that if it’s determined that they do need to be examined or tested that they go to a facility that’s adequately equipped to perform a COVID-19 examination or test.

Patients who have a fever or symptoms of a respiratory infection or who have been exposed to a person who has COVID-19, the flu, or any other communicable disease or who have recently traveled to an area that the CDC considers to be “high risk” should contact their doctor’s office to determine if they should reschedule their appointments or surgeries.

One MAG member practice suggests that, “If you are experiencing mild symptoms of seasonal cough, runny nose, itching eyes and sore throat, please stay home and manage [those symptoms] with OTC medications that you may obtain from your local pharmacy. Going to the ER is not advised.”

It adds that, “If you are experiencing both fever and a cough you should call your primary care physician. Patients with significant fatigue and myalgias or patients with serious underlying health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes are more at risk and should consider making an immediate appointment. Please call your doctor prior to arriving.”

The practice notes that that, “If you are experiencing shortness of breath, extreme weakness and low blood pressure you are best evaluated in the hospital ER. You may need to call 911 for transportation if symptoms are extreme. You should call the ER prior to showing up. Please wear a mask or obtain one immediately at admission.”

And is stresses that “if you do not have a fever, you probably do not have coronavirus. Drive through testing at Walmart and Walgreens will be available soon. Some primary care offices have testing kits available now. Results may take one to two days to return. Do not go to the ER for testing; call your physician first.”

MAG member Georgia Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, M.D. (R-Marietta) explains that, “Most [COVID-19] cases will be mild, but those over 60 or with chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, cancer and immunosuppression are at the highest risk. The virus is highly contagious because it is new and spreads similarly to flu (respiratory droplets, close contact and contaminated surfaces). It is in the same family as the SARS virus.”

In addition to “handwashing and coughing into a tissue,” Sen. Kirkpatrick is encouraging Georgians to keep the following in mind…

– Social distancing can slow the spread of the virus. Just imagine that you have it and don’t want to give it to a family member. Stay home if you can, and definitely if you are sick.

– If you have symptoms, call your doctor or the Department of Public Health. They can advise you regarding testing. You will need a working thermometer as fever and cough are the hallmarks of the virus.

– Prepare to “hunker down” for a few weeks. The more we can slow down the spread the better. That is why so many events are being cancelled. If you are elderly or have medical problems, you should be at home.

– Disinfect surfaces frequently. If someone in your house is sick, they should be isolated to one room and should not share towels, utensils, bedding, etc.

– Help your neighbors, especially the elderly. Take the opportunity to catch up on your reading and try to get outside if you can. Staying up to date is good but too much news can lead to anxiety (This last part is just my opinion).

CDC COVID-19 Symptoms