SALEM, Ohio — Since the COVID-19 virus was first found in Ohio, March 9, and in Pennsylvania, March 6, the situation has evolved rapidly.
States have closed schools, banned mass gatherings, shut down bars, restaurants or other non-essential businesses and taken other measures to slow the spread of the disease.
Pennsylvania and Ohio, along with other states, are testing and updating the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, regularly. West Virginia is also testing for COVID-19, but did not have any positive cases, as of March 16.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State and federal agencies are offering guidance to U.S. residents on how to seek medical care if they suspect they may be infected.
If you are mildly ill, the CDC recommends that you stay home, except to get medical care, and stay away from other people in your home as much as possible.
If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and believe you have been exposed, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Be sure to call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider’s office so the office can take steps to prevent other people from being exposed or infected.
Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 in adults include difficulty with breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in chest, new confusion or inability to arouse or bluish lips or face.
If you have these symptoms, the CDC says you should seek medical attention immediately. Consult your doctor on any other severe or concerning symptoms. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the dispatcher that you may have COVID-19 and put on a face mask before emergency responders arrive, if possible.
Ohioans who are hospitalized and show symptoms of COVID-19 — and have had close contact with another confirmed COVID-19 patient; or have a travel history from an affected area with widespread or sustained community spread; or who don’t have an alternative diagnosis — will have samples sent to the department’s state lab for testing, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Ohioans who show symptoms and may have been exposed but are not hospitalized should contact their primary care physician or an urgent care. If that doctor believes a test is necessary, they will send samples to private labs for testing.
“If you think you have symptoms, you need to let your doctor know … before you come in,” said Breann Almos, of the Ohio Department of Health. “And follow their instructions.”
Ohioans with questions on COVID-19 should call 833-427-5634.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is advising people with mild symptoms to stay home and to call their healthcare provider if symptoms worsen.
Citizens with severe symptoms, including a fever over 100 degrees, shortness of breath and a cough, should call their healthcare provider, or their local or state department of health if they do not have a provider. The Pennsylvania Department of Health can be reached at 877-724-3258.
Pennsylvania’s State Public Health lab is prioritizing testing for people who are severely sick for unknown reasons, people who have been in contact with known COVID-19 cases, health care providers and people in congregate care settings.
Doctors can also have patients tested through commercial labs if they believe it is necessary.
The West Virginia Department of Health advises people who develop symptoms and think they have been exposed to COVID-19 to call their healthcare provider, emergency room or local health department before seeking care. Patients who go to a healthcare provider’s office should put on a face mask before entering.
The West Virginia Department of Health can be reached at 800-887-4304.
The CDC recommends washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Those who are sick should stay home, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and immediately wash their hands, wear a face mask and clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces daily.
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