As of 9/28/20
Where can I get tested in Washington, DC?
If you suspect you may have coronavirus, call your primary care doctor first, as almost all private testing centers require both a doctor’s referral and an appointment made for testing. If you do not have a doctor, call the coronavirus hotline for DC residents, which can be reached at 855-363-0333. For more information on how to receive testing in the District, please look at: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/testing
The website above also has a list of free public sites for drive-thru and walk-up testing, which do not all require appointments.
Where can I find information about DC’s reopening guidelines?
The District entered Phase Two of reopening on June 22, 2020. The Phase Two reopening guidelines can be found at https://coronavirus.dc.gov/phasetwo.
Maryland moved into Phase Three of reopening on September 4, 2020 and announced expanded capacity for indoor dining on September 21, 2020. The executive orders in Maryland can be accessed at https://governor.maryland.gov/recovery/ while Maryland’s “Roadmap to Recovery” resource is found at https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/MD_Strong.pdf.
On July 1, 2020, Virginia entered Phase Three of reopening, and these guidelines are outlined at https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia/faq/.
Where did this virus originate from?
Per the CDC, the exact source of the current outbreak is unknown but the first case was in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. Scientists believe the virus originated in wild animals and crossed over into the human population. This is a new virus to humans, and therefore we do not have natural protection (immunity) against it.
How does the virus spread & how long is the virus detectable on different surfaces?
The virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze. The droplets can land directly on another person or an object that a non-infected person will then touch, potentially creating spread.
Of note, this virus does not get absorbed through skin, but will infect a host if the droplets/virus touch mucus membranes, such as the eyes, mouth, and nose. The virus is detectable in air for approximately 3 hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, on stainless steel for 2-3 days, and on plastic for 3 days.
Can one do something to prevent spread and infection?
To prevent spread, you can clean your hands often, cover your mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, continue social distancing, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and stay home if you are sick. It is recommended to wash your hands with soap and water for over 20 seconds, or with a hand sanitizer with >60% alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue during a cough and sneeze, and then clean your hands afterwards. Disinfect surfaces with diluted household bleach, Lysol, or >70% alcohol solutions.
How does social distancing work?
Social distancing is being shared on the news, social media, and even local signs. To practice this public health measure, one must avoid large gatherings of >10 people, avoid hugs or handshakes, avoid public transportation if possible, leave your home only for necessities and exercise, and maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and someone else. The concept is that if you have the virus (and are asymptomatic or symptomatic), you are less likely to infect another individual by practicing the above listed.
How many patients are symptomatic versus asymptomatic? And how long does the virus stay in your system?
Testing is widely available to those with an order from their physician, through the DC coronavirus hotline, or at various walk-up sites throughout the city. About 80% of patients will have a “mild” infection. There is a preliminary study that was completed in Iceland that found 50% of carriers are asymptomatic. After exposure, a patient can become symptomatic in 2-14 days. Most people recover after 2 weeks.
How can someone treat his/her symptoms?
Symptomatic management at home in an isolated setting is appropriate for most patients with mild infection. There is currently no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Rest, adequate hydration, and acetaminophen/ Tylenol for fever or body aches can help.
There is controversy surrounding anti-inflammatory medications worsening COVID-19 symptoms. Because of this, daily anti-inflammatory users should consult with their physician. Tylenol/ acetaminophen is used as a symptomatic treatment for this infection and should be used. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising against taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to treat symptoms based on some reports from patients that it worsened their illness. Some NSAIDs to potentially avoid include Ibuprofen/ Motrin/ Advil, Naproxen/ Aleve/ Flanax / Naprelan, Diclofenac/ Cambia, Indomethacin/ Indocin, Meloxicam/ Mobic.
Why are the elderly more susceptible?
Immune function declines as we get older and the body has a difficult time fighting off infections such as the coronavirus. In addition, the elderly are more likely to suffer from chronic medical conditions that can weaken the immune system, such as diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular disease.
Can children get this virus?
Children and infants have been symptomatic and have been diagnosed with COVID-19. However, children do not appear to be at higher risk than adults. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in both children and adults, although children often present with milder symptoms. Additionally, some studies have shown that COVID-19 can manifest in children similar to Kawasaki, which is an inflammatory vascular disease.
Because of this, it is important to maintain social distancing and following precautions as otherwise stated.
What are the effects on pregnancy to mother and fetus?
Currently, we do not know the exact risks of contracting COVID-19 in pregnant women. We also do not know if a pregnant woman can pass the COVID-19 virus to her fetus during pregnancy or delivery. To date, very few neonates born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for COVID-19 immediately upon birth.
Most neonates that are COVID-19 positive, test positive a few days after birth; because of this, it is unclear whether the virus came from mom or the environment.
Of note, the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid and breast milk from many women. However, the sample size of pregnant women with COVID-19 that has been studied so far has been small, so data is limited.
Are there any known long term effects?
The disease course of COVID-19 ranges from mild to severe and can sometimes even be fatal. Some patients who initially have mild symptoms can progress to pneumonia and respiratory distress over the course of a few days. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe complication of COVID-19 infection that can necessitate mechanical ventilation and lead to shock or even death.
At this time, not enough is known about the long term implications of COVID-19 in those who recover from the illness. The Hong Kong Hospital Authority found that some patients who had been infected and recovered were left with weakened lung capacity. In addition, other coronaviruses such as SARS have been shown to sometimes cause irreversible cardiovascular complications (such as cardiac arrest) in those who had pre-existing cardiovascular diseases.
How long will this situation last?
Many scientists have said that COVID-19 will remain rampant in our communities until a vaccine is developed and can be widely distributed. However, it may take more than a year until a vaccine can be ready. Therefore, many experts predict that this current situation will extend at least for the next few months.
Where can I receive information about COVID-19 that is specific to my ward?
Ward 7 and 8 residents who have questions about COVID-19 resources can call the hotline number: 202-688-5947.