Yes, there are seven different coronaviruses known to infect humans.
Four of the seven coronaviruses are very common, more mild (similar to the common cold), and most people will be infected with at least one of them in their lifetime. Healthcare providers test for these common coronaviruses routinely, and no public health measures are needed to address these common coronaviruses. People infected with the common coronaviruses can avoid passing them to others by covering their coughs and sneezes, cleaning their hands frequently and containing germs by staying home when ill.
Three of the seven coronaviruses are rare and can cause more severe illness; this includes COVID-19. Testing for this virus can only be done at CDC; healthcare providers are not able to test for this virus independent of the public health department.
If you have developed a fever or respiratory symptoms and believe you have had exposure to a known case or traveled to an area with community spread, isolate yourself from others in your home right away and contact your healthcare provider BY PHONE to describe your symptoms and any recent travels BEFORE going to a local healthcare facility.
At this time, tests for COVID-19 require a provider order. Visiting a provider does not necessarily mean you need testing or that you will receive testing. Your provider will follow all appropriate guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kentucky Department of Health to determine if testing is recommended based on your symptoms and recent travel history.
If you have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you should self-monitor for fever or symptoms of respiratory illness for 14 days. If you begin to experience fever or symptoms of respiratory illness, and they are mild enough that you can manage them at home, you should remain at home in isolation. For details about how to correctly perform home isolation, tips for managing your illness at home with family members, and guidance on when you can discontinue home isolation, please visit the CDC’s website.
If you are not experiencing symptoms, or you are experiencing mild symptoms you can manage at home in isolation, you do not need to seek medical care or testing.
I’m experiencing mild symptoms right now, but I’m worried. If you are experiencing fever and/or mild symptoms of respiratory illness, you can and should isolate at home during illness. For details about how to correctly perform home isolation, tips for managing your illness at home with family members, and guidance on when you can discontinue home isolation, please visit the CDC’s website.
Worsening symptoms – I need to see my provider. Be alert to any changing symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if your symptoms are getting worse. If you feel you need to visit your healthcare provider, call ahead before you arrive to tell them you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. This will allow your provider’s office staff to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.
Emergent symptoms – I am having difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 and notify the dispatch agent that your emergency is related to possible COVID-19 symptoms.
Will I be tested? Your emergency medicine provider or primary physician will make this determination based on your symptoms and recent travel history. You may or may not be tested, but your provider will follow all appropriate CDC and Kentucky Department of Health guidelines.
While there is currently no vaccine and no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus and those with the virus can seek medical care to relieve symptoms. There are simple, everyday actions you can take to help prevent spreading germs that cause respiratory viruses. These include:
Practice social distancing. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet, or within the room or care area, of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment (PPE). Close contact can also include caring for, living with, visiting or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case. Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (such as being coughed on) while not wearing recommended PPE.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Our team is highly skilled at managing and treating infectious diseases of all types, including COVID-19. We are continuing to closely follow guidance from the CDC and our local/state health departments and are adhering to the rigorous health and safety protocols that have always been in place at our facility. These operating protocols were further enhanced when the pandemic began and include:
Requiring masking for everyone inside our facilities
Screening for COVID-19 symptoms
Enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols
Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment
Isolating patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
Yes. Studies have shown that the Delta variant has a much higher rate of transmissibility (40-60% greater) than any other identified strain, which means it is more contagious. It is estimated that the Delta variant is responsible for more than 50% of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. at this point.
We are still learning about the characteristics of the Delta variant as the research continues to evolve. For now, we know that the best thing you can do is get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect yourself. Vaccinated individuals are significantly less likely to spread the virus, become severely ill if they do contract COVID-19 or require hospitalization. Notably, over 99% of all deaths due to COVID-19 in June 2021 across the U.S. were in the unvaccinated population.
We are not testing patients with COVID-19 to determine which strain they may have. The specific type of variant doesn’t impact how we care for COVID-19 patients, nor does it impact the health and safety protocols already in place to protect our team and all those who enter our facilities.
It is normal for viruses to mutate and develop new strains – this happens with the influenza virus every year, for example. Because of this, there are several different strains of the SARS-CoV-2 currently circulating, including the delta variant, and it is likely that other strains may develop over time. It is very important to get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect yourself and others from any strain of the virus.
The best defense is to get a COVID-19 vaccine and encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated. At this point, most of the patients we are seeing who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. It is also wise to wear a mask, socially distance from others and practice proper hand hygiene to help slow the spread of illness.
Studies are still ongoing to determine how long immunity lasts for a vaccinated individual and if COVID-19 booster shots are necessary. At this time, the best thing to do is make sure you are fully vaccinated for maximum protection – either by receiving both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna two-dose vaccine regimen or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.
Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are possible regardless of the specific variant, as no vaccine is 100% effective. The good news is that even if you contract COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, you are significantly less likely to become severely ill or require hospitalization.