The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a new type of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, continues to dominate headlines with news of its spread and new cases in the United States.
NYU Langone has been actively preparing its facilities and employees to identify possible patients with the virus and to prevent transmission to themselves, other patients, and visitors.
At this time, it appears that the novel coronavirus, part of the family of viruses that cause the common cold, likely results in a range of symptoms, from none at all to severe pneumonia. “Most people with the condition probably have no symptoms or mild cold symptoms,” says Michael S. Phillips, MD, chief hospital epidemiologist at NYU Langone. “Significant illness would present like pneumonia with a fever, cough, and shortness of breath.”
Though it’s still uncertain how this outbreak will affect New York City, there are a few steps New Yorkers can take to prepare, stay healthy, and seek medical care when needed.
Who Is Most at Risk for Contracting 2019 Novel Coronavirus
Those who have traveled to and from the Hubei province in China within the past 14 days are most at risk for contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus disease, as well as those who have been exposed to a person with confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus disease. Transmission is mainly droplet based, so it is most contagious when a person with the virus coughs or sneezes on another person.
Prevention of Respiratory Illness
“If you’re healthy, remember that prevention is key,” Dr. Phillips says.
Wash your hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes with your arm, and avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes without washing your hands first. Alcohol-based hand rubs are quick and effective way to sanitize your hands.
“These simple measures will go a long way in preventing infections in both yourself and those around you,” adds Dr. Phillips.
Cold Symptoms and Virtual Urgent Care
“We’re recommending that people who have typical cold symptoms such as runny nose and congestion without a fever stay at home until no longer sick—just like you wouldn’t necessarily go to the doctor if you have a cold,” explains Jennifer L. Lighter, MD, pediatric infectious disease expert and hospital epidemiologist at NYU Langone.
For worsening cold symptoms including fever or muscle aches and pains, we recommend that you stay home and speak with one of our emergency medicine doctors using NYU Langone’s virtual urgent care service. Same-day appointments are available seven days a week, and you can see a doctor right from your mobile device, without having to leave home.
“You can avoid a long wait at an urgent care center or emergency room by taking advantage of virtual urgent care,” Dr. Lighter says. Urgent care and emergency locations are often busy and crowded during the flu season.
When to Seek Medical Care Quickly
If you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, or difficulty catching your breath, you should seek medical care quickly. If your doctor or medical care provider is available by phone, call them right away.
“Don’t delay seeking care, including going to the nearest emergency room—ideally with a face mask on—if you have these symptoms,” Dr. Phillips says.
Additional Information About Coronavirus
For the latest information about coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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