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Coronavirus Q&A: Valley doctor explains what to do if you’re infected

(Photo of Dr. Scott Anderson provided by Banner Health)

The coronavirus case and death totals in Arizona continue to rise, so what should you do if you test positive for COVID-19?

A Valley doctor has the answers.

Here are the questions KTAR News 92.3 FM asked Dr. Scott Anderson, the chief medical officer of Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb medical centers.

Q: What happens to people who get the coronavirus?

A: The vast majority of people who develop COVID-19 are going to have mild symptoms and won’t need to be hospitalized.

Most people will have a fever, a cough and maybe mild shortness of breath. They can treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medications as well as making sure they’re maintaining appropriate nutrition and staying hydrated.

Q: Who should be hospitalized for the coronavirus?

A: The symptoms that we look for when it’s time to go in are when an individual starts to develop trouble breathing, might be confused or demonstrates excessive sleepiness. Unrelenting chest pain also is another symptom to be concerned about.

Q: Should infected individuals continue to exercise?

A: It really depends on the extent of symptoms. Sometimes when people are feeling ill, physical activity actually will not help.

Q: Is there medical equipment people should get, such as a vaporizer machine, that can help with their symptoms?

A: The most important equipment right now is soap and water and really focusing on washing your hands, social distancing and preventing the spread.

Q: Should infected people continue to be in the same house as others who are not infected?

A: Everybody’s home situation is different. At times, it’s not possible for people to leave. Not everyone has that option.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arizona Department of Health Services recommend trying to stay away from others, so maybe in a separate room or using a separate bathroom.

Clean hard surfaces frequently. If you’re in contact with anyone, they should wash their hands. Wearing a mask will also help prevent you from infecting others.

Q: How long should you try to stay isolated from others?

A: Right now the recommendation is 72 hours without symptoms, like a fever or shortness of breath. And that’s while off medications such as Tylenol.

Q: How long does the disease usually last?

A: Typically, after a person has their first exposure, it can be about 2 to 14 days before they’ll develop symptoms. Most people who have mild symptoms are going to start to improve within a week or so of their initial onset.

Patients who continue to get worse should reach out to their care provider.

Q: What steps do you recommend people take to sanitize their house after they’re no longer infected with the coronavirus?

A: Cleaning a lot of the hard surfaces is important. We do know that this virus is transmitted through droplets, and those droplets can stay on surfaces for several days. So if someone is sick and they sneeze or cough onto a surface, we want to make sure that we’re cleaning those surfaces well and frequently.

Also, if you’re in a home with someone who does have the coronavirus, make sure that before eating or touching your eyes, nose or mouth that you’re washing your hands for 20 seconds or more with warm, soapy water.

Q: Any other recommendations you have for people?

A: There are some great online resources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great coronavirus symptom checker. It’s very easy to use. It helps walk people through some of the questions they may have.

Also, if you do feel like you need health care, make a phone call before you go in. Find out from your care provider or the facility you’re getting care from, what they’re instructions are. That helps to protect everybody.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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