More detailed information and additional guidance is available from the CDC
Who is at high risk for COVID-19 and what should they do?
Older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like: Heart disease, Diabetes & Lung disease.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.
Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
How does the Health Department communicate about a positive case to ensure the public health is protected?
When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, the Norwood Health Department is alerted. The Department then calls the individual and sorts through all the close contacts that person had during the period of time when they might have been contagious. Anyone who meets the criteria for exposure will then be contacted by the Department and advised as to what they should do.
If an individual has not been called by the Health Department, they are at no more risk than anyone else.
Sharing and speculating on an individual’s status only creates more fear and anxiety. The Health Department needs to be able to balance the privacy rights of individuals with the protection of the public health – it is the only way the system will work. The more we need to address rumors and misinformation, the less time we can work on protecting the community.
Everyone should be social distancing and washing hands. Individuals with personal health concerns, or concerns for those they may care for, should call their doctor and follow their advice.
What does it mean to self-quarantine?
When someone is in close contact to an individual that has tested positive to COVID-19, that individual is asked to self-quarantine as a protective measure to stop any possible spread of the virus. Any contact with a quarantined individual does NOT constitute an exposure to the virus. An individual's contacts before the quarantine are not at risk.
Others who have traveled to countries where COVID-19 is widespread sould also be asked to self-quarantine, again as a cautionary measure.
What is contact tracing?
People in close contact with someone who is infected with a virus, such as the COVID-19, are at higher risk of becoming infected themselves, and of potentially further infecting others.
Closely watching these contacts after exposure to an infected person will help the contacts to get care and treatment, and will prevent further transmission of the virus.
This monitoring process is called contact tracing, which can be broken down into 3 basic steps:
- Contact identification: Once someone is confirmed as infected with a virus, contacts are identified by asking about the person’s activities and the activities and roles of the people around them since onset of illness. Contacts can be anyone who has been in contact with an infected person: family members, work colleagues, friends, or health care providers.
- Contact listing: All persons considered to have contact with the infected person should be listed as contacts. Efforts should be made to identify every listed contact and to inform them of their contact status, what it means, the actions that will follow, and the importance of receiving early care if they develop symptoms. In some cases, quarantine or isolation is required for contacts, either at home, or in hospital.
- Contact follow-up: Regular follow-up should be conducted with all contacts to monitor for symptoms and test for signs of infection.
How does community mitigation/social distancing and contact tracing to slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19?
Without any community mitigation and social distancing, it is estimated that for every one person infected, they infect 4 others. That is a high infection rate and would result in an exponential increase in cases.
With the drastic social distancing we are able to reduce it the spread to each case infecting 1.25 individuals, but that is still a growth in cases.
With contact tracing we can get under to a transmission rate of under 1:1, meaning each case infects less than one person on average. Contact tracing uses the tools of isolation of positive cases, and quarantine of contacts (those exposed to COVID-19 but not showing symptoms) to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Should the children or other family members of the people who are under self-quarantine go to school or work?
Yes, just because a person is under self-quarantine does not mean that they have the COVID-19. It is a precautionary measure and does not necessarily mean that someone has or will exhibit symptoms of illness.
Why are we cleaning buildings and facilities?
There is much to learn about the COVID-19 virus. Based on what is currently known about the virus and similar coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS, spread from person-to-person with these viruses happens most frequently among close contacts. This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets. On the other hand, transmission of COVID-19 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through contact with surfaces. Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. According to CDC, cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html
What can I do to prevent the spread and protect myself from COVID-19?
- Practice good handwashing
- Practice social distancing: stay home as much as possible, when going out stay 6 feet away from others
- Stay home if you are sick
- Contact your doctor with the various telehealth systems
Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
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 a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
What is social distancing, and how does it help stop the spread of coronavirus?
Social distancing is the effort to maintain a distance between people of about 6 feet and avoiding contact, such as handshakes and hugs. The coronavirus is transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets. When someone coughs, sneezes or is talking, these droplets travel through the air but only within a 6-foot distance. By maintaining distance between individuals, you can reduce the spread of the virus. In addition the virus can be transmitted from person-to-person via hand contact. If someone coughs into their hands or eats, the virus can be on their hands. By encouraging frequent handwashing and discouraging handshakes, it can reduce the spread of the virus. Social distancing means maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and avoiding things like handshakes and hugs.