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What Do You Do If You Get COVID-19?

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This entry will be updated over time to reflect new developments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Updates

  • April 30, 2020: The UK reports they will not be lessening social distancing measures.  They believe this is a “gamble” against the progress made in containing the spread.
  • April 29, 2020: All L.A. County residents, even those without symptoms, can now get tested for COVID-19.
  • April 29, 2020: President Trump says the federal social distancing guidelines will be lifted April 30, 2020.
  • April 28, 2020: The FDA has begun sending warning letters to companies selling fraudulent COVID-19 supplies. Click here to see who they have sent letters to.

We are hoping for the best. We are taking all the necessary precautions. But what do you do if you suspect that you have COVID-19? Or any similar illness for that matter…

It’s becoming increasingly common as each day goes by to know someone who is at home with coronavirus symptoms, but unable to “qualify” for a COVID-19 test. Although the United States has improved its testing numbers significantly, it still lags behind Germany and South Korea, for example, in terms of per capita testing. As of April 2, the US has roughly enough tests for 1 in every 273 people to be tested, according to the White House.

This is obviously not good enough and is only one data point in a sea of many still being calculated. For example, testing more people now is a forward movement, but what about the individuals who definitely had COVID-19 and can’t confirm it. Still unknown, are the numbers associated with those individuals who have likely contracted COVID-19 and are either asymptomatic or have already had COVID-19, recovered and were never tested.

What do you do if you suspect that you have COVID-19?

That depends on many factors and while the odds are in your favor to recover from COVID-19, if you were to contract it the odds are not currently in your favor to get tested for it. Are you closely connected to a medical practitioner who will be willing to call in a COVID-19 test? Even if the answer to this is, yes, your chances of getting tested are still not great unless you want to pay a large sum of money for it.

For the most part, unless you are on the verge of a medical emergency, you’ve come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, have a CDC sanctioned pre-existing health condition, and you’re Tom Hanks your chances are still slim to none that you will successfully acquire a test. Even more of a reason to stay home, for now.

As if the lack of access to testing isn’t enough of an issue, the real problem is that we don’t have access to the material we need to process tests. In case you’ve been living in a remote cave somewhere out there, America doesn’t manufacture her own goods. Did you know that most of the swabs practitioners use to administer a COVID-19 test are manufactured in northern Italy?

Tom Hanks is an American Treasure

One source from a lab testing facility in Texas reports that the bottleneck is not that the US doesn’t have the capacity for mass testing, it’s as a result of our nation’s labs (including LabCorp and Quest) not currently having adequate access to the testing reagents and counties do not have enough swabs to test people. A reagent is a substance or compound added to a system to cause a chemical reaction, or added to test if a reaction occurs.

That reminds me, I think I owe LabCorp money. When do we not owe LabCorp money? If you don’t have health insurance, a basic metabolic blood panel could cost you upwards of $500. With insurance, you might still pay $200 of that bill. And yes we can all agree that it was the best call to test and take care of our beloved, Tom Hanks. But I digress…

Testing is in the weeds

On paper, our largest lab corporations have the network and infrastructure to test at capacity, but this only works in practice if the throughline functions. Another direct source told RS that certain labs have the capacity to process up to 100,000 tests per day now, but there is a backlog. States have been sending labs tens of thousands of tests a day for weeks and back when they could only handle a few thousand. This means that even though we have gotten better at processing more tests per day, we won’t actually be processing more tests per day until the backlog is cleared.

So the question remains; what do you do if you suspect that you have COVID-19, or any virus for that matter, and there is no testing in sight? We went on the hunt for some practical advice, and this is what we found. As a person who grew up in a house of learned doctors, this reads a lot like the prescription I’ve heard my entire life. It’s not the only advice – in any other case I would never agree that sugar is a good treatment option – but it’s a place to start. And since the majority of us are in self-preservation mode, receiving almost no reliable guidance from the government, the task of protecting our health and the health of our loved ones is our own. Then again, wouldn’t you agree that this has always been the case?

We are not physicians and we don’t play one on T.V., which is why we are defaulting to the experts. Always follow the guidance of your health care professionals first. Duh. If you do get sick and can not track down your own doctor, below is some practical guidance from a tenured respiratory therapist. Stay safe! –RS

COVID-19: Common Sense Tips

Since they are calling on respiratory therapists to help fight the coronavirus, I am a retired one, too old to work in a hospital setting. I’m gonna share some common sense wisdom with those that have the virus and trying to stay home. If my advice is followed as given, you will improve your chances of not ending up in the hospital on a ventilator. This applies generally to a healthy population, so use discretion.

1. Let Your Fever Run High

Only high temperatures kill a virus, so let your fever run high. Tylenol, Advil. Motrin, Ibuprofen, etc. will bring your fever down, allowing the virus to live longer. They are saying that ibuprofen, Advil, etc., will actually exacerbate the virus. Use common sense and don’t let fever go over 103 or 104. If it gets higher than that, take your Tylenol but not ibuprofen or Advil to keep it regulated. It helps to keep the house warm. Cover up with blankets so the body does not have to work so hard to generate the heat. It usually takes about 3 days of this to break the fever.

2. Hydrate with Sugar

The body is going to get dehydrated with the elevated temperature so you must rehydrate yourself regularly, whether you like it or not. Gatorade with real sugar, or Pedialyte with real sugar for kids, works well. Why the sugar? Sugar will give your body back the energy it is using up to create the fever. The electrolytes and fluid you are losing will also be replenished by the Gatorade. If you don’t do this and end up in the hospital, they will start an IV, give you D5W (sugar water and Normal Saline to replenish electrolytes. Gatorade is much cheaper, pain-free, and comes in an assortment of flavors.

3. Keep Your Lungs Moist

This is best done by taking long steamy showers on a regular basis. If your wheezing or congested, use a real minty toothpaste, brush your teeth while taking the steamy shower, and deep breath through your mouth. This will provide some bronchial dilation and help loosen the phlegm. Cough into a wet washcloth pressed firmly over your mouth and nose, which will cause greater pressure in your lungs forcing them to expand more and break loose more of the congestion.

4. Eat Healthily and Regularly

You need to keep your strength up.

5. When Your Fever Breaks–Get Moving!

Once the fever breaks, start moving around to get the body back in shape and the blood circulating.

6. Take Deep Breaths

Take deep breaths on a regular basis, even when it hurts. If you don’t it, it becomes easy to develop pneumonia. Pursed lip breathing really helps. That’s breathing in deep and slow then exhaling through tight lips as if you’re blowing out a candle. Blow until you have completely emptied your lungs, and you will be able to breathe in an even deeper breath. This helps keep lungs expanded as well as increase your oxygen level.

7. Remember You’re Still Sick

Remember that every medication you take is merely relieving the symptoms, not making you well.

8. If You See No Relief, Go To An ER.

I’ve been doing these things for myself and my family for over 40 years. All are healthy and still living today.

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