With misinformation about Covid-19 spreading as quickly as the disease itself, here is the latest, most definitive information, the best ways to protect yourself, and how Sollis can help.
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. It is spread primarily through droplets of saliva or mucus and can lead to mild-to-severe respiratory illness. There is no known cure.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Most of the time—roughly 85%—a person who gets Covid-19 has either no symptoms at all or symptoms like the flu: headache, fever, sore throat, cough, fatigue, and/or muscle aches. It tends to get better in a week but can last up to 21 days. About 15% of people develop a more serious illness similar to pneumonia (shortness of breath, chest pain, bad cough). Approximately 2 to 3% of people who get the virus, especially the elderly, will be hospitalized and run the risk of dying.
How long is the coronavirus incubation period?
The incubation period—the time between catching the virus and showing symptoms—can range from 2 to 14 days. It is most commonly 4 to 5 days.
How long does the infection last?
The infection seems to last for up to 2 weeks in most people, but there is no definitive answer. If you lose your sense of smell and taste, they will return the vast majority of the time, but it may take weeks or even months.
Who is at the highest level of risk?
The people most at risk are 65 and older, live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, are immunocompromised, smoke, or suffer from a chronic medical condition like asthma, lung or heart disease, or diabetes.
What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Quarantine is for people or groups who don’t have symptoms but were exposed to the illness. Isolation is for people who are confirmed to have had the virus.
Is it possible to get Covid-19 twice?
There’s no clear answer yet. When you recover from being infected, it is likely that you develop some level of immunity, but it’s not clear how long that immunity may last.
How should I keep myself healthy?
To stay healthy, there are a number of preventative measures you can take:
- Follow governmental recommendations about quarantine and social distancing.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, for 20-30 seconds, focusing on all parts, including your nails.
- Use at least 70% alcohol hand sanitizer frequently.
- Try to get 8 hours of sleep.
- Perform moderate exercise, ideally every day.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands before eating.
- Try to remain 6 feet from people when you go outside your home.
- Regularly disinfect high-touch metal and hard plastic surfaces like doorknobs and light switches with disinfecting spray or wipes.
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering in public if possible.
How can I keep my family safe?
You can keep them safe by staying healthy yourself and by making sure they follow the same exact steps that keep you healthy.
Do masks prevent infection?
If you are not a healthcare worker with frequent and prolonged exposure, surgical masks are not as critical, but they help—especially if you are near someone who is sick. They can help prevent the spread of virus-containing mucus droplets from a sick person’s cough to the air or nearby surfaces and objects.
Can I get sick from touching surfaces?
Yes. The virus lives on things like cardboard, plastic, and metal for up to 3 days. Disinfect all your highly-used surfaces like phones, remote controls, and countertops with a bleach-based cleaner every day. Disinfect things you buy from the store. Wash fruits and vegetables well. The EPA’s full list of disinfectants, which is also searchable by name, can be found here.
ILLNESS & SYMPTOMS
What do I do if I feel sick?
Our protocols are listed on our website, but first of all: remain calm—and isolated. Most patients will either be asymptomatic or have mild traditional flu-like symptoms for about a week. Treatment is the same as the flu: hydrate, take Tylenol for fever control, and stay home (but with even more self-isolation than the flu), while also washing your hands and covering your coughs to minimize spread. As always, you can speak with our expert physicians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or order a house call for Covid testing and additional treatment. We are also here to advise whether you need more advanced care or hospitalization if your symptoms worsen.
How does the disease progress?
Most people have a slow and steady progression of illness, starting with a week of flu-like symptoms, usually followed by recovery. If not, around Day 7 the disease progresses to pneumonia-like symptoms before the patient recovers. Worst case, between Day 7-10, the disease can progress to ARDS (Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome) and require hospitalization. For especially frail or sick patients, this timeline may be accelerated.
When should I call Sollis?
Call us immediately if you have mild, moderate or severe symptoms. We can provide regular telemedicine visits or arrange house calls, and we can also send you medications and/or equipment as clinically appropriate.
How do I know if I am getting worse?
Mild symptoms include:
- Low grade fever (99-101)
- Dry cough
- Mild chest pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste and smell
- Muscle aches and fatigue
Moderate symptoms include:
- Temperature of 102 or above
- Chest pain requiring medication
- Shortness of breath with a light activity like walking down the street or up stairs
Severe symptoms include:
- Inability to catch your breath at rest
- Severe fatigue where you can’t perform any activity
- Decreased alertness
- Heart rate over 120
- Oxygen level in low-90s or below
What happens if I progress to the second phase of illness?
The 15% of people who progress to the next phase will experience pneumonia-like symptoms. For these patients, we have partnered with home imaging companies who will come to your house and provide chest X-rays to help differentiate between pneumonia (which responds well to antibiotics) and Covid-19. We have also partnered with great home nurses who can help with your care, as well as DME (durable medical equipment) providers who can bring oxygen to support lung function while you recover.
When should I call 911 or go to the emergency room?
If you have severe chest pain or trouble breathing, call 911 or go to the ER.
If I need to be hospitalized for Covid-19, can you coordinate?
For the 2 or 3% of patients who progress to ARDS (Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome) and need ICU-level care, we will advocate for you by leveraging our relationships with local hospitals and Emergency Departments to support your care—and also help with transport via our private ambulance partners.
Are there any medications that can help me?
There is no proven treatment for coronavirus. You may take Tylenol for fever, aches or pains; cough medication; decongestants like Theraflu and Vicks VapoRub; and other remedies such as neti pot, cough drops, hot tea with honey, and hot soups. If you have moderate to severe symptoms, there might be limited benefit in taking hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), but there are also some rare but concerning side effects. If you do go to the hospital, Azithromycin (an antibiotic) taken with hydroxychloroquine might be beneficial. In certain cases with a possible separate bacterial infection, a Z-Pak may be prescribed before determining if hydroxychloroquine is appropriate.
How long do I need to remain isolated?
You should remain isolated until you meet two conditions. First, wait 14 days after your symptoms first started. Second, wait 3 days after your fever and cough have stopped. While isolated, wear a surgical mask as much as possible. Masks can help prevent the spread of virus-containing mucus droplets from your cough to the air or nearby surfaces and objects. If you have to leave your room, remain 6 feet from other people in your home.
Is Sollis prescribing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?
If you’re able to find a pharmacy with a supply, we’re happy to call in a script for you. We also have a limited supply for people with severe symptoms or moderate symptoms plus risk factors.
What if I need a ventilator?
We have relationships with local pulmonologist departments to try and get our members access to ventilators as soon as possible, but we can’t guarantee it in a pandemic. We do have at-home oxygen concentrators to support lung function if there is a shortage of hospital beds.
What is the wait time for a house call for a Covid test?
Due to high volume during the pandemic, the wait time is 24 to 48 hours. But if you’re high-risk, we will prioritize you. And if your life is in danger, we’ll advise you not to wait for a test and to go straight to a hospital, where we will advocate on your behalf. No matter what, you’ll be able to speak with our ER physicians at any time throughout the process.
How long does it take for the Covid-19 test to come back?
Results are presently available in 1 to 3 days.
If I test negative for Covid-19, does that definitely mean I don’t have it?
The tests are not perfect, especially due to the 2 to 14 days it may take for Covid-19 to present after exposure, so testing negative does not completely exclude the possibility. The primary reason for a false-negative result is testing too early in the course of the virus to be detected. In the event of a negative, we will continue to treat your symptoms and will likely suggest self-quarantine to reduce risk of transmission.
If I test negative, do I still need to quarantine myself?
You do not need to quarantine yourself in a specific room in your home. But you should stay home as much as possible. If you need to go out, try to remain 6 feet from others and consider wearing a mask or cloth substitute. You can meet up with a friend or two if no one is sick and you maintain the recommended 6 feet, but you should absolutely avoid social gatherings of more than a few people.
Under what circumstances should I retest?
We do not recommend retesting unless you are a healthcare professional. We recommend the CDC’s non-retesting isolation protocol (see above). You should only be retested if you develop moderate to severe symptoms, including temperature of 101.5 or above, chest pain requiring medication, and shortness of breath. If you require retesting to return to work or travel, then we can facilitate.
If I get a house call for coronavirus, can my entire family be tested?
We will test everyone in your family if they’re members of Sollis.
PRICING & INSURANCE
Can coronavirus house calls be submitted to insurance?
Most of the time, no. House calls are out of network. However, some insurance policies may accept them. They cost $1,000.
Is the coronavirus test covered by insurance? How much is it?
The test is covered by most insurance plans. If it’s not covered, it’s $150 to 250.
What’s the difference between PCR swab tests and antibody tests?
The current swab test uses PCR technology to find the presence of the virus and determine whether you’re infected. It is the most accurate way to see if you have Covid-19. The antibody blood test looks at the antibody build-up in your bloodstream to determine if you are currently infected (IGM) or if you have had it in the past (IGG). However, the antibody test is less accurate than the PCR test.
Should I get an antibody test if I have symptoms?
No. The antibody test’s evaluation of whether you have the virus (IGM) is less accurate than the PCR test, so for sick patients, we continue to prefer a PCR swab test in order to drive treatment decisions.
Will the antibody test tell me if I had Covid previously and if I am immune?
The antibody test can identify the build-up of long-term antibodies (IGG) that may indicate you have had Covid-19. It is still not known if you can contract the disease again, although we believe it may suggest some immunity. However, there is the potential of a false positive, where the antibodies identified are in fact caused by an alternative coronavirus or disease. For this reason, we do not change our social distancing recommendation based on this test.
Will Sollis be providing an antibody test?
Most antibody tests are not currently authorized by the FDA, but we are assessing testing kits with the expectation that they will be approved for emergency use soon. In the meantime, we will be offering members an at-home antibody test with the caveat that it’s not 100% accurate, does not have our official recommendation, and is best used in combination with additional information (PCR test, clinical assessment, etc). We will let you know as soon as the test is available.