Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Written by Dr. John A. Coldsmith, DNP, RN, MSN, NEA-BC,Clinical Consultant HTS3

By now I’m sure everyone has seen the news about the Coronavirus. As we now know, COVID – 19 cases are on the rise in the United States with a total of 100 cases and 9 deaths (all in Washington State) being reported as of today.  Public health officials in Washington said 27 people have tested positive for the virus. Most had underlying health conditions and had been at the suburban Seattle Life Care Center nursing home. Officials said the virus may have been in the state as early as January 15 but the infected individual was not confirmed until six days later. A number of schools have told students to stay home and attend classes online.  It remains critically important that all hospitals and healthcare facilities stay vigilant and informed as new developments unfold in our communities.

HealthTechS3 continues to review and summarize information that we hope will be helpful in your preparations, prevention, and support of your facilities. Rural or critical access hospitals may have fewer resources to draw on than urban facilities but are certainly known for their resilience and ability to handle a wide range of emergency situations.

How does COVID – 19 spread:

  • Mainly person to person. COVID – 19 seems to be affecting people who are older adults or have existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or pulmonary disease; these may be at higher risk.
  • Between people in close contact with one another (about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets – produced when the infected individual sneezes or coughs.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You develop symptoms — fever; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. 
  • You have been in contact with a person known to have COVID – 19.
  • Recently traveled from where there is a community spread of COVID – 19.

An Ounce of Prevention – What do I need to do:

  • Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched items or objects.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Follow CDC Guidelines for using a face mask.

Source: Centers for Disease Control – March 3, 2020

Do I need to wear a mask?  

  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • If you do wear a mask, know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
  • Masks can be effective if used in combination with good and frequent hand washing.
  • For the healthy individual, wear a mask only if you are taking care of a person with suspected COVID – 19. There are recommendations not to purchase masks due to fears that 1st responders or healthcare facilities will have limited supplies!
Source: World Health Organization – March 3, 2020  
CDC releases COVID – 19 Guidance & Resources for Hospitals and Health Systems:

Source: Centers for Disease Control – March 3, 2020
Guidance for Healthcare Facilities:
Healthcare Facilities – Steps to Prepare:
Evaluating and Reporting Persons under Investigation (PIU):
CDC releases COVID – 19 Guidance & Resources for Hospitals and Health Systems (Con’t):

Source: Centers for Disease Control – March 3, 2020
Strategies for Optimizing the Use of N-95 Respirators:
Strategies to Prevent the spread of COVID – 19 in Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF):
Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Communities:                                                                                  

Other Resources, Articles, & Links to Information