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You cannot turn on the TV or scroll through social media these days without seeing something about the novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

What is a Coronavirus?

Human Coronaviruses as a whole are by no means new. In fact, most people have likely had coronavirus at some point in their life; as these viruses typically cause mild respiratory illnesses like the common cold.  So, what is the difference with COVID-19? It appears that this particular coronavirus likely started in bats. In the past, the coronaviruses that have originated in animals and then spread to humans have caused more significant illnesses.  The two prior coronaviruses to start in this particular manner were SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003 and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome), which surfaced in 2012. The COVID-19 virus is “novel” meaning that until December 2019, this strain had not been identified in humans.

Click here for tips on how you can prepare for COVID-19

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Reported symptoms include fever, cough, body aches, sore throat, headache, and diarrhea.  The WHO has estimated that 1 in 6 people with COVID-19 will experience a more severe illness, which may include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.  Now, those milder symptoms could also describe this year’s influenza illness or even just the common cold. Take away message here…not every cough, fever or body ache is COVID-19 (in fact, you are more likely to have influenza or another common cold virus than COVID-19 at this point).  However, if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough or difficulty breathing), you need to call your medical provider for guidance on where to be evaluated. Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Click here for additional information on Coronavirus symptoms from the CDC. 

If you or your loved one is having symptoms

  • Adult Patients: Please call (225) 246-9240 to schedule an appointment with your physician. In order to minimize exposure to potentially COVID-19 infected patients, we are implementing the use of video visits for adult patients as a triage tool and to deliver routine chronic care where deemed appropriate. For more information click here.
  • Pediatric Patients: Please call (225) 246-9290 to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. In order to minimize exposure for our pediatric patients, we will be offering video visits for well child check ups. Both pediatric locations will not have extended hours Monday-Thursday until further notice. For more information click here. 
  • Video Visits: We are continuing to care for our patients in these challenging times through video visits, when clinically appropriate. For information and questions about Video Visits Click here.  You are now able to schedule a video visit through your MyChart account, Click here to schedule now.

Acute sick visits will be triaged by our staff and doctors and will be scheduled according to symptoms.  We ask all patients to please cover their nose and mouth if they are coming into the building.  This can be done with a bandanna, towel, Kleenex held over the face, or a face mask.

Is there a test for COVID-19?

Although the State of Louisiana recommends that all patients with a fever, respiratory symptoms, and a negative influenza test receive a COVID-19 test, they have strict guidelines as to who will receive testing directly from the State.  If you have severe COVID-19 symptoms call your doctor’s office for further guidance.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

No vaccine is currently available at this time because this is a “new” strain of coronavirus. While scientists have already been able to unpack this virus genome or structure, it takes time to develop a vaccine.  In general, vaccines can take anywhere from 6-18 months to be developed and go through the testing and approval process. It would be very unlikely to see a vaccine developed for COVID-19 anytime within the near future.

Tips for what YOU can do

Do not panic

While we are still learning about COVID-19, it is important to put this virus into perspective.  Consider the influenza season, so far this year…as of March 7, 2020, the CDC estimates that there have been over 36 million flu cases and over 22,000 people have died from the flu including 144 children.  Influenza infects millions of people each and every year and kills otherwise healthy children and adults as well.

Wash your hands 

We cannot stress enough how important good hand hygiene is to reduce the spread of all viruses.  Wash your hands frequently and for longer than you think (at least 20 seconds).

Call your doctor

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is intended to physically keep people away from each other to help stop the spread of a virus or other contagious disease. By limiting social interaction, it prevents sick people from coming in contact with healthy people and spreading illness.

  • Stay at home as much as possible, especially if you’re over the age of 60.
  • Keep 6 to 10 feet away from other people.
  • Avoid crowded areas.
  • Work remotely, if possible.
  • Limit or avoid travel.
  • Avoid handshakes, hugging and kissing.
  • Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels or bedding.
  • Stay home if you’re sick until your doctor clears you to leave. Even if your symptoms are mild, this helps prevent you from passing the virus to others who may be at higher risk of serious complications. Click here for more information about social distancing.
Make sure you are using reliable sources for your information about COVID-19 (see below for links). 

The situation with COVID-19 is changing on a daily, and sometimes even hourly, basis.

Click here for the FACTS about the COVID-19 from the CDC

A statewide network is available to answer questions regarding COVID-19. Just dial 211 or text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211.