March 19, 2020 COVID-19 New York Update

  • Governor Cuomo signed an executive order mandating businesses that rely on in-office personnel to decrease their in-office workforce by 75%.
  • Exemptions from the order will include shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions.
  • The Department of Financial Services has issued a new directive to New York State mortgage servicers to provide 90-day mortgage relief to mortgage borrowers impacted by the novel coronavirus.
  • Retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys to close by 8 PM Thursday in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
  • Governor Cuomo signed the bill guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus.
  • Governor Cuomo signed an executive order directing all schools in New York to close by Wednesday, March 18 for two weeks ending April 1.
  • Casinos, gyms, theaters are closed until further notice. Bars and restaurants are closed, but takeout can be ordered during the period of closure.
  • New York State is waiving all park fees in state, local and county parks.
  • Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.

What is the Coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1950s and generally cause mild upper respiratory illness characterized by cough, fever, and/or body aches. This is very similar to most viral illnesses including flu and the common cold.

The current situation involves a new, or “novel,” coronavirus and the illness it causes is called COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Because this virus is new, testing has been limited; there are no vaccines and no medicines designed specifically to treat it.

 

Am I at Risk for Coronavirus?

As your health care partner, your safety is our top priority. We want to emphasize that while the coronavirus is concerning, the overall risk to the general public remains low.

 

What are the Symptoms Caused by Coronavirus?

Fever, symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and body aches are the most common symptoms.

Because it is still cold and flu season, and allergy season is starting, our offices and urgent cares continue to see a significant number of patients with these symptoms. Right now, if you’re feeling ill, it is still much more likely to be a cold or the flu rather than the coronavirus. As with the flu, most people who get coronavirus only experience mild viral symptoms such as fever, cough, muscle pain or weakness, and fatigue, and will experience a complete recovery.

 

Can the Coronavirus Be Treated?

Since it is a virus, the coronavirus cannot be treated with antibiotics. Mild infections are treated in the same way as the common cold or flu with medications to relieve the symptoms of cough, congestion, and fever.

 

What Should I Do if I am Experiencing Symptoms?

If you are in respiratory distress, please call 911. If you have a fever, cough, and other symptoms of a respiratory infection, please visit your closest Wehealth location. As a precaution, wear a mask if possible and limit exposure to others. Please immediately notify the staff of your possible illness upon arrival.

For patients who want to speak to a doctor immediately, we offer telemedicine service by downloading the Wehealth app or you can visit www.Wehealthapp.com.

 

Can I come in and be tested for coronavirus?

We know many patients are interested in being tested for coronavirus. Again, if you have a fever and cough, our Wehealth and AG Urgent care centers can examine and evaluate your illness. We are following CDC guidelines for evaluating and identifying symptomatic patients.

At this time, testing kits are extremely limited and are being reserved only for the highest-risk and sickest patients. We are working with our lab testing partners and the government to expand testing capabilities. Our doctors will make all testing decisions based on protocols developed in partnership with infectious disease specialists and public health officials.

ANY PATIENT WHO MEETS CRITERIA FOR TESTING AND IS TESTED MUST SELF-QUARANTINE UNTIL THE TEST RESULTS ARE RECEIVED; IN THE CASE OF A POSITIVE TEST, THE REQUIRED CUMULATIVE QUARANTINE TIME IS 14 DAYS BASED ON CDC AND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH REQUIREMENTS.

 

What should I do to avoid COVID-19 infection?

Please stay aware and take proper precautions. It is believed the coronavirus spreads via respiratory droplets such as from a cough or sneeze, so you should be using the same prevention methods as you would to avoid a cold or the flu:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  2. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  5. Stay home from school or work when you are sick.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

 

What is WeHealth doing to keep all patients safe?

We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for potential cases for weeks. For us that means reinforcing our protocols, using appropriate supplies and devising rapid-response contingency plans.

At WeHealth locations, all staff are trained on the appropriate care for patients with flu-like symptoms and are wearing masks and using protective equipment when appropriate. We are following CDC and DOH guidelines to limit the spread of the virus including how we isolate patients with symptoms and how we disinfect rooms between patients.

Where can I get more information on COVID-19 and coronavirus?

NY Department of Health:
Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
Website: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html