What you need to know about COVID-19 & Coronavirus
First, don’t panic. Organizations in our news environment know that negative or overtly controversial stories receive more attention and thereby generate traffic to their websites. Seek out reputable sources like the CDC or World Health Organization for accurate and timely information.
What is COVID-19? What is a coronavirus?
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, these range from the common cold and influenza to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Should I be worried about COVID-19?
If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or if you have not travelled from one of those areas or have not been in close contact with someone who has and is feeling unwell, your chances of getting it are currently very low. We recommend that St. Louis County residents pay attention to County Health updates for the latest information on COVID-19 should it spread in our region.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2% of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms closely resemble other respiratory illnesses. Symptoms include dry cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat, and tiredness. Less commonly, people have reported aches and pains or diarrhea.
Some people become infected and do not show any symptoms or feel unwell. They can still transmit the illness to others even though they seem healthy. This is why you may be asked to self-quarantine if you have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.
How does COVID-19 spread?
People can get COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The virus can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then get COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. It is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick. The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing.
What should I do?
Do the things you normally do to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, which are the same things you would do to prevent getting the flu or common cold. First and foremost, you must be vigilant about practicing and maintaining good hygiene habits.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
- Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean commonly touched surfaces regularly.
- Select a room in your house to utilize if you must self-quarantine.
- Stay informed on the latest updates.
What should I do if I have respiratory or flu symptoms?
Call your doctor’s office or local clinic. St. Louis County clinics can provide medical care to all County residents, regardless of ability to pay. Call 314-615-0500 if you do not have a doctor.
Utilize tele-health options if available through your insurance carrier.
Do NOT go to the emergency room or urgent care unless your symptoms are severe. Doing so could take valuable resources away from those with the most critical needs and put their health at risk with a secondary infection.
Your doctor may recommend self-quarantine or isolation. Be prepared in advance should these be necessary.
How does self-quarantine and isolation work?
If you have symptoms you should distance yourself from all social activities in order to prevent the spread of a virus to others. You may also be asked to self-quarantine if you have been exposed to someone else who may be infected.
Self-quarantine is for people who have been exposed but do not have symptoms, they are asked to stay away from others in public settings. For 14 days from their last possible exposure, people in self-quarantine should not go to work, school, or any public places where they could have close contact with others. Public health departments should direct them in how to monitor their health so that if they develop symptoms, they can be quickly and safely isolated from all others, including those in their household. Public health nurses will remain in contact with you, if needed.
For those who are showing symptoms and have contacted their doctor, isolation is the best course of action. Isolation is used for people who are currently ill and able to spread the disease and who need to stay away from others in order to avoid infecting them. Isolation may include staying away from other family members in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
How can I prepare for self-quarantine or isolation?
- Follow the guidance of your health care provider.
- Be sure you have enough food at home for at least 14 days.
- To treat symptoms, have a supply of over the counter cold medications for at least 14 days.
- If you regularly take prescription medication, arrange for a sufficient supply.
- If you feel sick, monitor your symptoms and take your temperature twice a day.
- Stay hydrated.
- Have a supply of hygiene products like tissues, soap, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
What is the City of Kirkwood doing to prepare? How will my services be affected?
The City is monitoring the situation and will take appropriate steps if warranted. City Departments have plans in place to ensure the continuation of essential services such as Police, Fire, Power, Water & Sanitation services. In the event that the situation becomes more serious, Sanitation services may be reduced. We will also be adhering to the recommended prevention and mitigation strategies as advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the St. Louis County Health Department.
The Police & Fire Departments have all of the necessary equipment as well as safety and protection protocols to ensure continued operations.
Fire & Ambulance Personnel are instructed to follow the Emergency Medical Protocol established for the St. Louis Region in the event of a pandemic.
High traffic areas in the City such as the Community Center, Police Department, Train Station and the Kirkwood Library are increasing their cleaning and disinfecting routines.
Additional resources to stay informed and prepare for COVID-19 and other emergency situations:
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/covid19
St. Louis County Department of Health: www.stlouisco.com/Health-and-Wellness/Coronavirus
Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services: www.health.mo.gov/coronavirus
Get Ready & Stay Ready: www.ready.gov