Guidance issued to possible COVID-19 households

Michael Smith
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has issued a symptom comparison guide to help identify a potential illness. State health officials have established a Coronavirus Call Center at (877) 215-8336.

With the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Carter County on Wednesday, public health officials are giving guidance to households that may have the virus. Specific suggestions for caregivers and household members have been issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

“Testing is not necessary for everyone as test results will not change the course of treatment,” said OSDH spokesperson Julie Williamson. Many patients are likely able to care for themselves without visiting a doctor, but state health officials urge people who may be infected with the novel coronavirus to seek professional help by phone before visiting a doctor’s office or calling an ambulance.

“If symptoms become severe or do not respond to over-the-counter treatments, people should contact their doctor by phone for further instructions,” Williamson said in a statement.

Instructions given to people not hospitalized but are showing symptoms of COVID-19 include seven steps: stay home, separate from other people in the home, cover coughs and sneezes, keep hands clean, avoid sharing items, monitor the illness, and let doctors know about the possibility of infection before making a visit.

These recommendations should be followed until COVID-19 has been ruled out, or 10 days after the fever goes away for someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 infection, according to the OSDH guidance.

Additional guidance has also been issued to caregivers or household members of someone with COVID-19 symptoms including visitor limitations, personal protective equipment, and cleaning of high-touch areas. Keeping good airflow in shared spaces and using separate restrooms, if possible, is also recommended.

“It is important to note that caregivers and household members who do not follow these instructions when in close contact with the patient may be considered to be ‘close contacts’ and should monitor their health,” the guidance read. “Start from the day you first had close contact with the patient and continue for 14 days after you last had close contact with the person.”

For those who may have been exposed, OSDH guidance suggests taking body temperature measurements twice per day and watching for any coughing, chills, body aches, sore throat, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, runny nose, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.

If symptoms develop for someone who may have been exposed, OSDH recommends calling a healthcare provider to let them know about close contact with a COVID-19 patient.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is asking that anyone concerned about possible exposure or symptoms should call the Coronavirus Call Center at (877) 215-8336 or 2-1-1.