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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Visitor Restrictions, Resources, and Updates

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What You Need to Know

Teams throughout UR Medicine have worked closely with leaders from the CDC and local and state health officials to monitor and respond to this evolving situation. Applying our expertise in the field of infectious disease and infection control, we’ve worked since January to ready our facilities, train staff, increase our communications across the clinical community, and take active steps to obtain surplus supplies of critical drugs and other items needed to care for our patients.

As one of five NIH Centers of Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance, the University of Rochester Medical Center is also helping to coordinate the worldwide response to this disease, and starting early clinical trials testing.

COVID-19 is a new strain within the coronavirus family that’s only been known to cause human illness since December 2019. Other coronaviruses include the common cold and other more serious and less common illnesses, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 causes mild illness far more frequently than severe illness, but it’s important for high-risk individuals to take steps to prevent catching the illness.

Stay connected: MyChart is UR Medicine’s online patient portal, and can help you stay in touch with your health team. You can use the tool to contact your doctor’s office; view test results; request prescription refills; and manage your medical appointments. It’s free, and easy to sign up.

Stay informed: A constant barrage of news can be stressful, but knowing the facts about the illness can help you feel prepared. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers helpful information about the virus and how to protect yourself from it.

Maintain a safe environment: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some tips on how to clean your home to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses and tips about hygiene in the workplace.

Protect yourself from the flu: Influenza is still in our community. It is a significant health risk, especially for the very young, as well as for people who are elderly or have underlying medical issues – the same groups at greatest risk from COVID-19. You can get a flu shot to help protect yourself and the people close to you.

Support your mental well-being: The COVID-19 pandemic is difficult for all of us – and especially for those who are already dealing with mental health issues or have a loved one who is. Mental Health America has created a website with resources.

Reach out to loved ones: If you’re separated from community, family and friends, make a point of regular check-ins. Voice phone calls and video visits using FaceTime (for Apple product users) and Skype offer more emotional connection than texting, and can alleviate the isolation and loneliness you may be feeling.

Adjust to new routines: Sudden changes – such as school and day care closures or working from home – can be stressful for individuals and families. UR Medicine Department of Clinical Psychiatry Professor George Nasra, M.D., M.B.A., offered advice in this City Newspaper article about how to manage your emotions in the coming weeks.

For many patients, symptoms can be managed at home. They include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some people experience symptoms that require prompt medical attention, most notably difficulty breathing. The CDC explains the range of symptoms in detail and has a quick "coronavirus self-checker" self-test on its site. 

COVID-19 is mainly spread person-to-person through airborne respiratory droplets like saliva and mucus, and can be transmitted from surfaces where droplets may be present. 

To reduce your chances of contracting or spreading the virus, support your general health and practice good hygiene:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. And when you are sick, stay home.
  • Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
  • Get your flu vaccine – it’s not too late.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid touching surfaces.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

It is important to wash your hands frequently. You should wash your hands immediately after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, using the bathroom or touching surfaces in a public space. Wash your hands before eating or preparing food and before touching your face. The proper way to wash your hands is:

  • Wet your hands with clean, warm, running water.
  • Rub your hands together with soap – including the fronts and backs of hands, between all fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands under clean, running water and dry them.
     

"Social distancing" means not interacting with anyone outside your household, and limiting trips to places where you might interact with other people. It is strongly recommended that you only leave your home for essential travel (to work, if your job is essential, and to the grocery store or pharmacy if you must). If you can, the CDC recommends keeping a two-week supply of medications, food and other essentials on hand. The government has also advised against gatherings of more than 10 people. 

The CDC does not recommend that people who are healthy wear a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms and you must leave your home, wearing a facemask may help protect those around you. It is crucial that health workers and those taking care of people infected with COVID-19 have access to facemasks, so you should leave these available to those who need them.

The best way to protect yourself and others is to wash your hands frequently and stay home.

As noted on our How You Can Help page, the American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations throughout the U.S.

While it is important that we all practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, the need for a healthy and robust blood supply remains constant and is critical to providing life-saving care to our patients every day. Schedule an appointment to donate at an upcoming blood drive in your neighborhood/community/area at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-733-2767.

Early reports focused on the vulnerability of older adults and those with underlying health conditions. Those groups are at increased risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More recently, it’s been reported that 38 percent of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 (as of 3/20) are patients younger than 55. So it’s essential that everyone know how to protect themselves from the illness and take steps to protect themselves and others.

Read UR Medicine’s fact sheet about who needs to be tested, and how to contact your health care provider, or other health resources, if you have concerns.

Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. The four key steps to food safety are always recommended – clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Most people have only mild symptoms including cough and fever. But in those most at-risk, symptoms can include difficulty breathing and pneumonia. To avoid spreading the illness to others:

  • Stay at home if you are ill. Avoid public spaces and transportation.
  • Separate yourself from others.
  • Cover your cough.
  • Practice thorough and frequent handwashing.
  • Wear a facemask to prevent any droplets from spreading as you cough or sneeze.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor’s office or Urgent Care/Emergency Department.

Call the UR Medicine COVID-19 support line at 1-888-928-0011 or your health care provider if you:

  • Have traveled outside the region in the past 14 days and you are experiencing cough, fever, or shortness of breath; OR
  • Have had contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19.

Depending on your answers, we’ll schedule an appointment or have a clinician call you or recommend appropriate home care. 

Most importantly, if you think you have active symptoms, please do not go to an emergency room, Urgent Care, or doctor’s office without first calling. If you are unsure of what to do, please call 1-888-928-0011.

UR Medicine Patients who are experiencing symptoms they are worried could be COVID-19—a fever and upper respiratory issues like a cough and shortness of breath—can use the MyChart patient portal to email members of their care team directly from their smartphone or computer. Alternatively, they can call their primary care, family medicine or pediatric practice, where UR Medicine nurses are prepared to screen potential COVID-19 patients.

If you do not have a primary care provider, please call the Monroe County Health Department at (585) 753-5555 or the UR Medicine COVID-19 support line at 1-888-928-0011 for advice.

If you aren’t sick but have questions about COVID-19 please visit the CDC website or call the New York State hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

Many UR Medicine programs employ video telemedicine technology to help diagnose and treat patients. At this time, we think phone screening and email communication will be the most convenient way for potential COVID-19 patients to determine whether they need to see a medical professional.

In some cases, yes.

For patients being seen at the Wilmot Cancer Center or Golisano Children's Hospital, please use the following links to learn the process on how to access your telemedicine appointment:

To learn more about telemedicine, please log in to MyChart or call your individual provider's office directly. If you don’t have an account, we encourage you to sign up for a MyChart account.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for COVID-19. The FDA is working with the pharmaceutical and biotech industry and academic researchers to expedite the development of COVID-19 treatments. 
 
URMC researchers are experts in the field of infectious diseases and are on the front lines of the national response to COVID-19. This includes research to better understand the disease and participation in clinical trials for new treatments and preventative measures, such as vaccines. Sign up for our research registry to be alerted of new opportunities to participate in health research (you can now select COVID-19/Coronavirus as an area of research interest).

Eric D. Caine, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at UR Medicine, joined WXXI’s Connections with Evan Dawson to offer advice on how to help alleviate loneliness related the impact of COVID-19.

While certain food items in your local grocery store may be temporarily low in stock, there are no nationwide shortages of food. There are currently no widespread disruptions reported in the supply chain.