URBANA – The chief nursing officer of the Carle Health System says Carle is receiving many questions about the novel coronavirus. People want to know how to protect themselves from COVID-19 and whether it’s wise to cancel travel plans.
Elizabeth Angelo says in addition to the CDC guidance to avoid high-risk areas, she recommends people consider avoiding international travel altogether or making adjustments to decrease chances of exposure.
“If you have a trip that you feel is necessary, think about modifying the risk of that trip,” Angelo says. “If you can, think about staying in a personal residence or a smaller venue as opposed to a large hotel (and) consider driving instead of flying.”
Angelo says it’s also wise to avoid large gatherings, take steps to “maintain social distancing,” and keep an eye on updates from the CDC.
She says many people are low-risk and will be able to recover safely at home in the event they get the coronavirus.
“From what we’re seeing in other communities, they will be able to stay home and recuperate,” Angelo says. “And there are some important steps that they can take to avoid sharing that illness with other family members,” such as isolating yourself when sick, regular hand washing, and not sharing hand towels and living space, even within the home.
Angelo says one of the biggest misconceptions is that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.
“It’s different from the flu and it deserves (a higher) level of consideration and preparation,” Angelo says. “As citizens of a larger community, we have a shared responsibility to keep those who are more vulnerable healthy.”
Angelo says anyone who is concerned they may have COVID-19 should call their provider for guidance before coming to the hospital, unless they’re experiencing life-threatening symptoms.
At this time, Angelo says, not everyone who wants can be tested. That’s because, despite efforts to ramp up testing at commercial labs, testing is not yet widely available.
For now, testing is being limited to people who meet certain criteria for international travel or exposure to others with confirmed COVID-19 cases, established by public health authorities.
Find more information about the coronavirus from the CDC and Champaign-Urbana Public Health District websites.
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