Update from Dr. Molly O’Dell for April 29 Edition

Throughout the week, the health department has received several great questions from members of our community. I thought it would be helpful to share common questions and answers to help everyone best respond to COVID-19.

What is a confirmed case? 
A confirmed case is defined as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

What is a clinical case?

A clinical case is when a physician makes the diagnosis of COVID-19 based on specific clinical criteria. The disease is reported just like a lab confirmed case.

What is an outbreak? 
An outbreak is three or more positive COVID-19 cases that can be traced to the same source of infection.

Should I get tested? 
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. If you think you may be sick, stay home and consult with your healthcare provider about the need for testing.

What is the treatment? 
There are no specific treatments for COVID-19 infection.

Is it safe to eat take-out? 

Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through food. If possible, order and pay online or over the phone. Accept take-out without in-person contact or stay at least six feet away from others. Before preparing or eating food, it is important to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak?

It is not yet known whether temperature affects the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like those that cause the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months.

Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals?

Currently, there is not enough evidence to show that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19, and therefore, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Do I need to take safety precautions when getting gas for my vehicle?

It is wise to protect yourself from COVID-19 while getting gas. If available, use disinfecting wipes on buttons and the handle of the gas pump before you touch it. After getting gas and paying, use a hand sanitizer. Once you get to your destination, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

How will we know when we’ve reached the peak, and therefore, when we can lift restrictions? 

Until more tests are available to determine how many people are infected with COVID-19, there isn’t a reliable way to know how prevalent the disease is throughout our health districts, or to know when the threat has passed. Understanding when we’ve reached the peak will also allow us to plan for lifting restrictions, however, if we lift restrictions too soon, this can result in a spike in cases and overwhelm the state’s health systems.

How does the health department work with hospitals and private doctors to combat COVID19? 

Public and private health works together to manage infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. While private health offers testing and healthcare, public health performs the epidemiological work to mitigate disease spread. Both public and private health are taking steps to protect our patients and employees.

Visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus or call the health department’s information call center if you have any questions or concerns: 1-855-949-8378, open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Virginia’s health is in your hands. Do your part, stop the spread.

-Dr. Molly O’Dell, Director of Communicable Disease Control 

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