Why is this coronavirus so serious?
Sars-CoV-2 I the virus that causes Covid-19. It is a type of coronavirus, the name for this type of virus comes from the way the protein molecules the cover it look like a crown, or corona.
The Sars-CoV-2 virus spreads through the moisture and droplets in the air that we exhale. Once the virus is in our nose, throat and lungs, each time we exhale we send large amounts of virus into the air around us. The viruses can be breathed in by others or can land on surfaces where they can infect others who touch these contaminated surfaces then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. High exertion activities like exercising or singing and yelling appear to spread more droplets from deeper in the lungs that spread further.
Sars-CoV-2 is more contagious than the flu and more recent variants such as the Delta and Omicron variants are much more contagious than the original variants.
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, many will have severe symptoms and about 1-2% of infected people will die. Children and younger adults are less likely to require hospitalization or to die from their Covid infection, compared to older adults or to those with chronic medical conditions. Even for young, healthy people, Covid-19 is much more deadly and dangerous than a typical flu virus.
Some people who have Covid-19 develop long-term symptoms of weakness or difficulty breathing or difficulty thinking clearly that can last for months, making it difficult to do regular daily activities.
When Covid-19 is surging, 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.
We can reduce our risk of getting or spreading Covid-19 by
- getting vaccinated and boosted,
- Staying home and getting tested when we are not feeling well
- Keeping our kids home from school or social events if they are not feeling well or if they have been in close contact with someone with Covid-19
- Using masks when in close contact to people outside of our immediate family or in other high-risk situations
- practicing proper hand hygiene
- quarantining when we have been exposed
- Testing before and after large social gatherings or traveling
How can I keep from getting or spreading Covid 19?
- Vaccination is the most effective measure we have to limit the spread and severity of Covid-19. Being fully vaccinated and boosted greatly reduces your risk of having severe Covid-19 or being hospitalized or dying from 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 indoor gatherings 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,
- 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.
- 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. Younger children may have more cold-like symptoms, while older adults may have more shortness of breath or pneumonia symptoms.
Is Covid-19 more dangerous for older people?
Covid-19 is much more serious for the 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 a milder illnesses, but they 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, diagnostic testing is recommended. Call us at 381-7009 to arrange for testing or if you have more questions.
Home test kits as a great place to start your testing.
When should I use my home test kits?
We recommend using you home test kits for the situations below
- Surveillance: If you work with the general public or in healthcare or retail, you are likely encountering Covid positive people regularly. Consider testing weekly or more often, especially if you live with someone at high risk. If you were at a social event or recently traveled, do a home test on day 6 after your exposure or as soon as you start feeling any symptoms. Daily testing for 6 days may be a good idea to be safe
- Protection: Test before going to visit someone at high risk or if you know you will be around unvaccinated people. Test all of your family members together to ensure everyone is cleared to visit.
- Diagnosis: If you are starting to feel sick at all. Don’t blame it on allergies or “just a cold”. If you start feeling a scratchy throat, runny nose, sneezing, congested, having loss of taste or smell or muscle aches, feeling more tired than usual, having headaches or dizziness or having diarrhea or vomiting, isolate yourself from the rest of your household and do a rapid home test now.
- If your test is negative, wear a mask around others and sleep separate from your family, use a separate bathroom if possible, and wash hands well. If feeling fine in the morning, do another home test, if negative then all good. Keep wear a mask around others for 5 days, but no need to isolate.
- If your second home test is negative but you are still not feeling good, stay home, call us for a telemedicine appointment, or schedule to come in for PCR testing.
- If you had a high-risk exposure, such as tinder date that turned out to be positive, or your kid who sleeps in your bed turned up positive, do daily home testing then a PCR or final home test on day 6 after your last close contact.
- If your home test is positive, isolate yourself away from others in your home and call your PCP or call us to schedule a telehealth visit with a medical provider to discuss possible treatment options.
- Clearance: If you are covid positive, you must isolate for at least 5 days. On day 6, even if you are feeling better, do a home test. if still positive, stay in isolation and test every 1-2 days then can leave isolation when your rapid test is negative or after 10 days, whichever comes first. Check with your employer or school policies on when you can return to work, school or other activities.
Is there any treatment for Covid-19?
There are protective treatments available for those at high risk of severe illness and there are treatments available for those at high risk of severe disease after exposure and early in their illness course. These treatments can greatly reduce your risk of severe illness and can prevent covid-associated deaths. Please contact your care provider or call us at 381-7009 for more information. Hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are not approved or recommended for use in treating Covid-19.
KPHC carries Paxlovid antiviral treatments for those at hgh risk for severe covid-19 infections. Call us at 381-7009. We only dispense Paxlovid for established KPHC patients when ordered by a KPHC care provider.
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
- Masks are required for all staff and patients who are 2 years old or older at all times in the clinic. If you are unable to wear a mask due to specific respiratory conditions then other visit accommodations will be made.
- 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 been exposed to someone with Covid-19 will be asked to go to our outside screening facility at our 915 N. King St. location or will be asked to do their visit with their care provider by telemedicine
- 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 have increased the frequency of daily cleanings in our facilities
- 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 a daily screening of all staff and have testing of ill or exposed staff.
- We have limited staff gatherings or in-person meetings
- 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?
Hawai’i does not currently require post-travel testing or quarantine for mainland travel. International departures may be required to show proof of vaccination and/or negative testing before being allowed to board a flight to the US.
Your employer or school may require post-travel testing.
Check with www.hawaiicovid019.com for the latest travel requirements. We recommend that you self-monitor for any Covid-19 symptoms. If you start to have any symptoms, isolate at home and get PCR testing if available or at-home rapid testing. If you do not have any symptoms, do a PCR or home test on day 6 after arrival from transpacific travel
Someone in my home, church or workplace tested positive for Covid, but I feel fine right now, should I be tested?
Quarantine is not required, however, you should assess your individual risk depending on your personal health risks, your vaccination status, and the health risks of those living with you or under your care. Quarantining for at least 5 days may be the best and safest decision. Masking around others and self-monitoring for symptoms for at least 10 days from your close contact is recommended. If you develop any covid-like symptoms, even mild symptoms, isolate and get PCR testing or do home testing. PCR testing is the most effective and sensitive test, however, two home tests at least 24 hours apart while you are having symptoms is also appropriate. If you do not have any symptoms, a PCR or rapid home test on day 6 after your exposure is recommended, to ensure that you do not have an asymptomatic infection that may spread to others.
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. Testing after quarantine or isolation is generally not recommended. If your 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?
Isolate from others in your home, and wear a mask at home and when going out. Do a home covid test if available and 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.
If you do not have a home test kit, contact the clinic and we may be able to provide you with free test kits for your home, or we can arrange for PCR testing at KPHC.
If your home covid test is negative and you are not feeling better, continue isolating and repeat your home test in 1 to 2 days. If your test is positive or if still not feeling better or if getting worse, contact your care provider or call the clinic to speak with a nurse
Call first before walking into the clinic. 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, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.
Do not use public transportation or ride-sharing apps like Lyft or uber unless you have no other options. 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. If you must use public transport or rideshare, wear a mask, ride with windows down if possible and avoid any close contact with others.
I want to get tested, 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 also offer a PCR confirmation test. If you are testing for work, school or travel, please check which test is required.
Results from PCR confirmation testing are usually returned within 1 to 2 days or possibly longer depending on if we are in a surge with high numbers of tests being done. If we ordered the test for you, we will receive the results and contact you with the results. You may also be able to check your results online through clinical labs of Hawaii at www.cliniclalabs.com. Your test results are 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!