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Good-to-know COVID-19 info: What to do if you think you have coronavirus and what to do to help prevent its spread if you don't have it

Good-to-know COVID-19 info: What to do if you think you have coronavirus and what to do to help prevent its spread if you don't have it

From the Complete coverage: What Idahoans need to know about the coronavirus series
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COVID-19 info

Housekeeper Mokey Rasmussen cleans a patient's room Friday at the Minidoka Memorial Hospital in Rupert. 

TWIN FALLS — Most people in the U.S. will be exposed to COVID-19 in the coming months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Idaho has confirmed only a handful of cases right now, but the number is going to grow.

Whether or not you think you might have the coronavirus, here’s what medical professionals are asking you to do.

If you think you have the coronavirus

Typical coronavirus symptoms include a fever, cough and difficulty breathing normally. It’s possible, however, to have the coronavirus if you don’t have those symptoms. You can also have symptoms and not have the virus.

You can be a COVID-19 carrier without having any symptoms. It takes between two days and two weeks for the virus to start making you feel sick. That’s why it’s critical to practice social distancing — avoiding crowds and maintaining six feet of space between yourself and others at all times — because you can spread the disease without knowing it.

South Central Public Health District encourages people to contact their medical provider in the following cases:

  • They have been in an affected area in the past two weeks
  • They are concerned they might have been exposed
  • They have symptoms of fever or cough

If you don’t have a medical provider, call St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center’s hotline at 208-381-9500, or reach out to your local hospital or urgent care clinic

Clinic staff can assess you over the phone and determine whether you need to be tested. If you do need to be tested, clinic staff will direct you to a testing site. That testing site might not be in the hospital itself. For instance, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center will be adding drive up testing and screening tents in the coming days.

Many individuals want to be tested, even if they aren’t showing symptoms. For most people, testing probably won’t be necessary.

Neither South Central Public Health nor St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center made anyone available to the Times-News for an interview Tuesday.

Websites and phone numbers with more information

Keep in mind that information on the coronavirus is evolving rapidly, so for the most up-to-date information, you might have to check these sites daily.

St. Luke’s website is a good source of information. Find its website at stlukesonline.org.

The CDC has a lot of up-to-date information at cdc.gov/coronavirus. As of March 17, the coronavirus has killed 75 people in the U.S., and there are 4,226 reported cases.

If you want to track the virus’ spread throughout the country, follow this site specifically.

The South Central Public Health District’s coronavirus page has a lot of information on how to respond to the coronavirus and offers a bunch of links to additional CDC info.

You can find President Donald Trump’s coronavirus guidelines online at whitehouse.gov. The main keys are to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, don’t go to restaurants or bars — choose takeout options instead — and diligently wash your hands and follow good hygiene techniques.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare‘s website has Idaho-specific updates on the virus.

What to do if you feel fine

Medical professionals are offering similar recommendations for healthy people in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

It’s important to remember that even if you are young and healthy, your actions can play an important role in keeping COVID-19 deaths low. If you aren’t careful in limiting your exposure to others, you can cause the disease to spread more rapidly. That could cause the health system to be overwhelmed, which in turn could lead to more COVID-19-related deaths.

COVID-19 has already spread throughout the country. Now the key isn’t to stop the spread but to slow it. This is called flattening the curve.

If the virus spreads slowly, hospitals will be able to keep up and provide services to dangerously ill patients. If too many people in the Magic Valley get sick simultaneously, we might run out of hospital beds.

Take special care to avoid in-person interactions with elderly people and individuals with chronic health conditions — such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease — or weak immune systems. Slowing the spread of the virus will likely save thousands of lives.

Complete coverage: What Idahoans need to know about the coronavirus

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