COVID-19 FAQ (Updated Jan 21, 2021)
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19 is the name of the disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS- CoV-2. Coronaviruses are common and usually cause mild colds or flu-like illnesses.This specific Coronavirus is a “novel” virus, meaning that it is a new virus that no one has ever seen prior to this outbreak.
Why is this coronavirus so serious?
This type of coronavirus is new. There is no natural population defense against the virus and there is no vaccine against this virus. Unlike the seasonal flu or other cold-causing viruses there is no “herd” immunity to protect us or to slow down the spread of the virus. Covid-19 appears to be moderately contagious, similar to the flu. Unfortunately for many people, Covid-19 is more severe than a typical flu.
While most people who are infected with Covid-19 will have only mild symptoms of fever and cough and some may even have no symptoms at all, about 10-15% will have severe symptoms and an estimated 1-2% will die and most of those will die after a prolonged ICU stay, isolated from their family.
Some people who have Covid-19 develop long-term symptoms of weakness or difficulty breathing that can last for months, making it difficult to do regular daily activities.
While the seasonal flu is also very deadly and is responsible for 20-60,000 deaths per year, Covid-19 appears to be up to 10X more deadly than the flu and has killed over 400,000 people in the US as of January 19, 2021.
Covid-19 is spreading so rapidly that the number of very sick people needing intensive hospital care such as mechanical ventilation to keep them alive while their body heals is much more than some parts of our healthcare system can manage. We do not have enough hospital beds, mechanical ventilators or protective equipment to provide care to a large number of very sick people.
By practicing social distancing, avoiding social gatherings, using masks when around people outside of our immediate family and proper hand hygiene and quarantining when we have been exposed or have traveled, we can slow down the spread of the virus, make less people sick, save lives and not overwhelm our healthcare system.
How is Covid-19 spread?
- Covid-19 is spread primarily by droplets that come from the nose and mouth of an infected person when they cough or sneeze or even talk. Others in close contact to an infected person can breathe these droplets in or get them into their nose, mouth or eyes and become infected.
- Larger respiratory droplets usually fall within about 6 feet of the person who coughs or sneezes and can land on other people or on surfaces like tables, chairs, floors and keyboards or phones. When we touch surfaces that are covered with droplets then touch our mouth, eyes or inside our nose, the virus can get inside of us and make us sick.
- Smaller droplets and very small “aerosolized” particles can float around for longer. These aerosol particles can spread Covid-19 when they are encountered in high concentrations, such as in poorly ventilated rooms or in places where there is a lot of shouting, yelling, singing or hard breathing such as bars, gyms, indoor gatherings and choirs.
- Covid-19 may be spread by people with no symptoms, but most cases appear to be spread by people who are showing symptoms.
- Infected people appear to spread Covid-19 the most in the 48 hours prior to their onset of symptoms and continue spreading through the first week or so after they start having symptoms.
- High exertion activities like exercising or singing and yelling appear to spread more droplets from deeper in the lungs that spread further.
- Covid-19 does not appear to spread through food. Air currents created by air conditioning or fans appear to cause droplets to be spread further, but the virus does not appear to survive going through A/C filters and vents
- Some animals can get Covid-19 from people, but there is no clear evidence that animals can spread the virus to humans, though it is possible.
How can I keep from getting or spreading Covid-19?
- If you are sick with a cough or fever, difficulty breathing, unusual headache, stomachache, vomiting or diarrhea, fatigue (unusual tiredness) or a change in your sense of taste or smell, do not go out, stay at home. Call your medical provider for advice.
- Do not go to the emergency room for testing unless you are very sick. Always call before you go to the ER or to your clinic.
- If you are very sick and having a hard time breathing, call 911.
- Practice social distancing, avoiding large groups and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people outside of your immediate family.
- Avoid high exertion activities in confined spaces such as gyms or yoga classes. Exercise outdoors with at least 12 feet of distance between you and others.
- Avoid crowded environments such as bars or social gatherings or parties. Crowds combined with social disinhibition from alcohol consumption makes social distancing practically impossible.
- Wear a face covering whenever you are outside your home and you are unable to consistently socially distance around other people who do not live with you, or if you are entering stores or enclosed spaces.
- If someone who does not live with you comes to visit, everyone should be wearing masks.
- The best masks are at least 2 layers of cotton or cotton with an outside layer of polyester and should cover your nose AND mouth and should be comfortable.
- Children under 2 or people who already have breathing difficulties should not use face coverings.
- Clear plastic face shields may provide some protection for those who cannot wear masks, but a mask is still the most effective protection.
- Clean your mask daily and adjust the elastic so your mask covers your nose and mouth with a snug but comfortable fit.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- WET your hands with clean, running water.
- LATHER them with soap. Make sure to get the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- SCRUB your hands for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
- RINSE your hands well with clean, running water.
- DRY them with a clean towel or let them air dry.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Hand washing is preferred.
- Get your flu shot to reduce the chance of developing symptoms that can be confused with COVID-19. Everyone ages 6 months or older should be vaccinated against the flu.
- If you are 65 or older, or if you are younger and it is recommended by your healthcare provider, get your pneumococcal shot
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects such as phones, tablet computers, pens or doorknobs and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Leave shoes outside of your home if possible or remove shoes and bag them if you must bring inside.
- If you work in healthcare, remove clothes immediately upon arriving home, before contacting anyone or any surfaces and shower immediately. Wash clothes promptly and wash hands after touching any potentially contaminated clothes or devices.
- Do not share drinks, food, utensils or toothbrushes.
- If you are sick at home, avoid contact with others, do not share items and avoid common areas. Avoid close contact (within 6 feet for more than 30 minutes) with anyone at home and especially with anyone over 60 years old or anyone with chronic heart disease, lung disease or decreased immunity.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
Most people who are infected will start showing symptoms after about 5-6 days, though some may start feeling sick after 2 days or as long as 14 days after getting infected. The symptoms are usually fever, cough and sometimes difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include headache, chills, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue muscle aches, a change in your sense of taste or smell. Many infected people will have very mild symptoms or up to 40% may have no symptoms at all.
Is Covid-19 more dangerous for older people?
Covid-19 is much more serious for elderly or for those with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease or chronic lung disease. The risk of death is higher. However, it is important to know that Covid-19 can make relatively healthy young people extremely ill. Children under 19 years old appear to have milder illness, but it can be very serious for any age.
Younger people may think they don’t need to worry much because they are not likely to get very sick, however even if they are healthy, they may spread the disease to others who may be at higher risk for more serious illness or even death. Covid-19 is not a disease of old people, it is a disease of all of us.
Should I be tested for Covid-19?
If you are having symptoms of Covid-19 or if you have been in close contact with someone who is suspected or known to have Covid-19, testing is recommended. Call us at 381-7009 to arrange for testing or if you have more questions.
If you have no exposure risks and are asymptomatic, testing is not recommended.
We are prioritizing testing for symptomatic patients and their close contacts. We will provide some lower-priority testing for situations such as asymptomatic work clearance or travel clearance as able.
Is there any treatment for Covid-19?
There are currently no approved outpatient treatments for Covid-19. Remdesivir, plasma therapy and dexamethasone are intravenous therapies available for people with severe illness in a hospital setting. They are not available for use in a clinic setting such as ours. Hydroxychloroquine is not recommended as a treatment option for Covid-19.
Is it OK to take ibuprofen or naprosyn/naproxen for Coivd-19 symptoms?
There have been some reports that the use of NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, (motrin) or naprosyn (aleve) may make Covid-19 symptoms worse. There is no clear evidence that this is true. Out of an abundance of caution it is recommended that you use acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead of ibuprofen or naprosyn/naproxen for fever or pain relief associated with Covid-19 symptoms. If you are on NSAIDS for chronic pain or arthritic conditions, it is recommended that you continue those medications.
What is Kalihi-Palama doing about Covid-19?
We have a dedicated nurse line for your Covid-19 questions. Call 808-381-7009 to speak to a nurse
· We have screeners at the entrances to our main clinical sites at 915 N. King St, 952 N. King St, 710 N. King St and at our Downtown facility at 89 S. King St. All patients are required to wear a face covering when in the clinic. All patients with symptoms of Covid-19 or who have recently traveled outside of Hawai’i or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 will be asked to go to our outside screening facility at our 915 N. King St. location.
· We have reduced seating in our waiting areas and ask that only patients with appointments or who are sick enter the clinic. One adult may accompany minors. Adults with appointments are asked to not bring their children into the clinic unless there is no one to supervise them. Adult patients needing assistance may be accompanied by one caregiver.
· We are limiting appointments in some areas to limit crowding and to facilitate social distancing.
· We have increased the frequency of daily cleanings in our facilities
· Any staff who have recently traveled or who have sick family members who are under investigation for COVID-19 are not allowed to work until they have completed the expected quarantine period
· Any staff who are sick with fever or respiratory symptoms are not allowed to work until they are cleared of possible Covid-19 infection and are well. We have enhanced our testing of ill or exposed staff.
· We have cancelled our larger staff meetings and have cancelled all work-related travel.
· We have expanded our telemedicine capabilities. Call ahead of your appointment to see if your visit may be managed by phone.
I just returned from traveling, do I need to quarantine?
You should have enrolled in the SafeTravels program prior to arriving in Hawai’i and should follow the directions given to you as to whether or not you need to quarantine.
If you were advised to quarantine, we cannot test you to allow you to leave quarantine early. You must follow the instructions of SafeTravels guidelines.
If you are in travel quarantine and begin to feel sick, contact DOH or call us at 381-7009 for testing.
If you have a negative pre-travel test and are not required to quarantine, it is still possible for you to be infected. You should continue to wear a mask around others, even those in your home, practice social distancing and avoid social gatherings for 14 days. If you begin to feel sick, contact DOH or call us at 381-7009 for testing
Most infected people will start to have symptoms at around 5 to 6 days after they become infected but it may take up to 14 days for symptoms to show.
Patients presenting to the clinic who are expected to be in quarantine will be asked to return to quarantine and may be reported to the department of transportation.
If you returned from travel and have no place to safely stay, please contact us at 381-7009 and we will do our best to help coordinate your quarantine.
Someone in my home, church or workplace is sick but I feel fine right now, should I be tested?
If someone in your home or close circle of friends or co-workers has tested positive for Covid-19, you should quarantine and be tested. Your testing may be coordinated by the Department of Health if you share a home. You can contact us at 381-7009 to discuss if testing is recommended for you and when would be the best time to get tested depending on the timing of your exposure.
The ideal time to test after an exposure may be 3 to 5 days after the exposure or any time you start to experience symptoms. Testing too early is more likely to give a false negative result.
My roommate’s co-worker tested positive for Covid-19, should I be tested for Covid-19?
Your roommate or partner may need to be tested depending on the nature of their exposure. If they shared a building with the infected person but had no personal contact or if contact was brief and everyone was wearing face coverings, the risk to your roommate would be low and you would not be at any increased risk. If your roommates’ exposure was more significant, then they should be tested. If they test negative and have been asymptomatic then testing would not be recommended for you. If your roommate tested positive or if they began having covid-19 symptoms, then your roommate should isolate away from you and you should notify your primary care provider or call us at 381-7009 or check www.hawaiicovid19.com to check on testing options or if you need assistance with isolation and quarantine.
I need clearance after my quarantine to go back to work, how do I get that?
If your quarantine is being monitored by the department of health or other public health agency then they will provide you with clearance or advise you on what to do. If you are under self-quarantine, then you can contact your primary care provider or clinic for clearance. For clearance from quarantine after travel into Hawai’i, you should receive clearance through the Safe Travels program.
Testing after quarantine or isolation is generally not recommended. If you school or employer requires testing before returning, call us at 381-7009 for assistance with scheduling testing or check www.hawaiicovid19.com for other testing options.
I’m not feeling well and I think I might have Covid-19. What should I do?
Call the clinic that you normally go to or call our Covid nurse line at 381-7009. Use the phone menu options to speak with a nurse regarding your symptoms and your risk factors. The nurse will advise you on what to do.
Do not walk-in to the clinic before calling. After clinic hours you can call physicians exchange at 524-2575 to speak to a medical provider. If your symptoms are severe with difficulty breathing or if you are getting weak or dehydrated, go to the nearest ER. Call ahead to let them know you are coming and let them know if you have recently traveled or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19.
Do not use public transportation or ride sharing apps like lyft or uber. If you do not have private transportation or if you are unable to safely travel, call 911 and notify them of your symptoms, exposure risks or travel history.
I’m uninsured, will I still be able to get tested?
Yes, we have a partnership with the city and county to provide testing for uninsured people who are having symptoms or who have had a high-risk exposure. This does not cover pre-travel testing or testing. We will review your risk factors and discuss your testing options.
How long does it take to get my test results?
We currently have rapid testing available with results in 15-20 minutes. This test has a risk of false negative results so we always do a PCR confirmation test. The rapid test cannot be used for clearance for travel outside of Hawai’i at this time and cannot be used for most work or school clearance requirements.
Results from PCR confirmation testing are usually returned within 1 to 2 days or possibly longer depending on the availability of testing chemicals and the numbers of tests being run at the time. If we ordered the test for you, we will receive the results ad contact you with the results. Your test results will also be reported to the Hawai’i Department of Health, so you may be contacted by someone from the state if your test is positive.
For tests done at other locations such as Queen’s Medical Center or Kapi’olani Hospital, we may not receive the results if we are not listed as your primary care provider. For tests done at CVS, urgent care centers or at other community health centers, there may be a delay in our receiving the results. Please call us at 381-7009 if you were tested somewhere other than KPHC and have not received any results within 2 to 3 days.
It is very important that you isolate yourself while waiting for your confirmation test results!
Telehealth visits are just like a face-to-face visit with your doctor or nurse but done over the telephone, computer, smartphone, laptop or tablet to connect you with a doctor or care provider wherever you might be. You do not need to be in the clinic for a telehealth visit. It is much easier than it may seem and it may be more convenient and safer for you as it allows you to access care without leaving your home.
When you call for an appointment, the person scheduling your appointment may ask if you would prefer a telehealth visit. You can also ask if a telehealth visit may be appropriate for an upcoming appointment or if you need medical advice that may not require a face-to-face visit.
If you aren’t sure how to do it, the next time you are in the clinic, ask the nurse to show you how to do a telehealth visit for your next appointment.