From free meals for youth and food support, to child care for health care workers and first responders, to check-in calls for seniors, Baltimore residents and medical professionals are coming together during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and finding new ways to support each other.
We asked Dr. Richard Bruno, interim site medical director at Chase Brexton Health Care’s Mt. Vernon Center, to discuss some basics about COVID-19, and how Baltimore’s residents and medical professionals have banded together to weather these challenging times.
What are some common symptoms of COVID-19? How can mild symptoms be treated?
The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) most commonly presents with cough, fever, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Other milder symptoms might be muscle aches, sore throat, and headaches. What makes this illness so frustrating from the public health perspective is that people who are exposed may be incubating the virus and contagious for a few days before showing symptoms. However, people with symptoms, especially a cough, are considered most contagious.
Once symptoms emerge, conservative management such as warm fluids, rest, and analgesics like acetaminophen may help. Approximately 80% of people who contract COVID-19 will have no or mild symptoms, 14% will need hospital-level intervention, and up to 6% will be critically ill.
How long do symptoms last? Once a person is feeling better, are they now immune?
The large data sets show that length of symptoms varies depending on severity of the illness, from no symptoms at all, over very mildly feeling sick for a day or two, to more severe disease courses lasting for a couple of weeks.
We don’t have enough data to know for sure if people can get re-infected at this time. However, there seems to be what is called partial immunity, meaning that most people will be immune afterwards for at least some period of time.
If a family member is sick, but has to stay home with us, what steps can we take to stop them from getting everyone else sick?
It’s important to avoid close contact with sick family members, and avoid sharing utensils and food/drinks. Surfaces should be wiped down daily. Any household members in contact to someone with COVID-19 are advised to stay home for at least 14 days. This is an important measure to help decrease the risk of spreading the virus. It is advised that a friend or neighbor should deliver groceries and medications, rather than have family members go out.
How have Baltimore residents come together to support each other during these unprecedented times?
Many neighborhoods in Baltimore have created a Self-Quarantine Support Network to pair volunteers with neighbors in need. For more information on this, please see www.tiny.cc/SQSN
In what ways are medical providers trying to help each other with needs outside the workplace?
Many health professionals and medical/nursing students have created a Baltimore Health Professionals Mutual Aid Cooperative to help frontline physicians and nurses with childcare services. They also collected hundreds of PPE this week to help distribute to hospitals and clinics who are facing shortages. More information here: https://www.facebook.com/bmorehealthmac/
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused many changes to Chase Brexton’s hours and operations; for a full list of changes, please visit www.chasebrexton.org/COVIDupdates. For tips to stay healthy and what to do if you think you might be sick, visit www.chasebrexton.org/StayHealthy.
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