An Ounce of Prevention: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
On February 25, 2020 by Jodi Boyne
Amidst all the global coverage of the Coronavirus, which has now been officially named COVID-19, communities with sensitive populations need to keep an eye on prevention. Here’s how you can prepare your setting, staff, and the people you serve to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Minnesota Departmetnt of Health (MDH) had a dedicated webpage for COVID-19 that includes updates on the current situation, information about the virus, how to protect yourself, and guidance for health professionals. It also includes work MDH and its partners are doing during the outbreak. This website will be updated, and we encourage you to reference it for resources and support.
On Feb. 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo to all Medicare-participating healthcare facilities regarding the novel Coronavirus. Recommendations and resources from that memo are applicable to all aging services providers.
Please review the information below and to help you take the necessary steps to prepare.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?
Reportedly, people who have coronavirus have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath; many later develop pneumonia in both lungs.
How Can We Prepare Our Community?
- Review your emergency preparedness plans.
- Review your infection control plans.
- Review your supplies, including personal protective equipment, for appropriate stock and usage.
- Review the preparatory guidelines and fact sheets from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (see below)
- Follow your community’s protocol for infection prevention and control.
- Develop an internal message to proactively acknowledge the current situation, share accurate and relevant information about the coronavirus, and assure staff, residents and families that you are taking all necessary steps to promote their health and safety.
- Reinforce to staff, residents and families the importance of washing hands frequently, cleaning high-touch surfaces regularly, seeking medical attention when sick, and staying home when sick.
What If One of Our Members Has the Virus?
- Review the CDC guidelines for infection control.
- Enable that person to seek and/or receive medical attention.
- Follow your community’s protocol for infection prevention and control, and member PHI confidentiality.
- Notify the appropriate state and federal public health authorities.
Where Can I Learn More?
- World Health Organization: Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines
- CDC Fact Sheet: Coronavirus and You
- CDC Fact Sheet: What to do if you are sick with the Coronavirus
- CDC What You Need to Know about Coronovirus
- CDC Interim Guide for Healthcare Professionals
- CDC Interim Infection Prevention and Control
- CDC Healthcare Professionals Preparedness Checklist
- New York Times: Six Key Factors to Understand the Outbreak
- We will continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation and provide additional resources as they are made available.