Stopping the Spread of a Virus Starts with You

Stopping the Spread of a Virus Starts with You

SARS, Zika, Ebola and now the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It can be scary when we hear reports that thousands are getting sick as a virus spreads. 

virus spreads quickly if it is an airborne virus like the coronavirus, which means it spreads when people who are sick with the virus don’t cover their face when they cough or sneeze. The virus can be suspended in the air long enough to reach others, even if they aren’t standing close. It can also be spread when the virus is on an infected person’s hands or something they have touched. 

Once a vaccine is made, an epidemic can be controlled. For example, the flu killed millions in the early 1900s before a vaccine was produced. Now it is easily controlled if people get the flu shot once a year and stay out of public places when they are sick. 

What Are the Symptoms? 

If you have ever had the flu, you’ll know what coronavirus feels like. Symptoms includes fever, cough and shortness of breath. Your symptoms   could be mild or severe.  

If you start showing these symptoms, call ahead before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room. Tell them about any recent travel and your symptoms.

How Do You Prevent Getting It? 

The best thing you can do to keep from getting COVID-19 is the same as what you would do to avoid any other airborne virus. 

The CDC   and other experts have websites with advice on preventing the spread of airborne viruses: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When you don’t have soap and water handy, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is a good plan to keep some at work and school. 
  • When you cough, cover both your mouth and nose with a tissue or your shirt. Teach kids to cough into their elbow, where you bend your arm in front of your face and cough into the crook of your elbow. A good way to get them to remember is to use the phrase “Cough and sneeze? Elbow Please.” For small kids, you can have them use both arms. It makes it fun for them to pretend they have crocodile jaws” and has a better chance of making sure they cover both their mouth and nose. 
  • When you use a tissue, throw it in the trash. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched a lot, like toys, door handles, faucets and TV remotes. 
  • Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.

The World Health Organization has created a website   to give advice on preventing the spread of the coronavirus. It includes a video, prevention tips and travel advice. 

While the coronavirus is getting a lot of media attention, flu is still the biggest worry in the U.S. It spreads quickly, in part because many people don’t get the flu shot each year. 

The flu shot is covered by your health insurance as preventive care*. That means you won’t pay anything when you get your shot. Your health plan covers all the cost. Many pharmacies give flu shots, as do most doctor’s offices.  

We are fully committed to serving our members and the communities we serve. We will collaborate with hospitals, doctors and government agencies that are treating and trying to contain the virus.  If you have questions about coverage or additional benefits that you may have on your health plan that can help during this time, call the number on your Member ID card.

Sources: 2019 novel coronavirus: Know the symptoms,   Share America, 2019; 2019 Coronavirus Prevention and Treatment Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2019; Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)  Word Health Organization, 2019; What you need to know about 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) CDC, 2019. 
*Preventive services at no cost applies only to members enrolled in non-grandfathered health plans. You may have to pay all or part of the cost of preventive care if your health plan is grandfathered. To find out whether your plan is grandfathered or non-grandfathered, call the customer service number on your member ID card.