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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Coronavirus?

Since its emergence in mid-January in Wuhan, Hubei Province China, 2019 Novel Coronavirus, now referred to as COVID-19, has quickly moved well beyond China.

What are the symptoms?

The Novel Coronavirus can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you come to a Valley Health facility, we will ask about your travel history.

What can you do?

Each of us can help minimize exposure and protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the larger community by following cold or flu precautions: frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if sick. If you have a fever and bad cough and have recently traveled to China or been in contact with someone who has, call your health care provider immediately and inform them before entering the office.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social or physical distancing:

  • Stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people
  • Do not gather in groups
  • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings

What does flattening the curve mean?

The more new positive cases each day, the more new people can be infected. Slowing the rate of new positive cases will help flatten the curve. This ensures health systems will be better able to meet the demand for care. Watch this video to learn more.

Should I avoid going to my doctor's office?

We understand that given recent concerns around Coronavirus (COVID-19), that you may have questions or concerns about attending a scheduled appointment with your physician or care provider. Valley Health is closely monitoring this situation and is making appropriate preparations.
Please make every attempt to attend any appointments that you may have, including office visits and scheduled tests. If you have concerns about visiting your doctor’s office, please contact them directly at least 24 hours before your appointment and our staff will be happy to answer your questions.

Is Valley Health prepared?

Valley Health is on alert, vigilant but not alarmed. We are closely monitoring Coronavirus reports from the CDC, Virginia Department of Health and West Virginia Department of Health. A system-wide committee representing emergency management, infection control, laboratory, pharmacy, and other functions at our hospitals, Urgent Care Centers and physician practices participates in statewide inter-agency calls and confers weekly to share updates and reliable information.

Valley Health has protocols to ensure the safety of patients and staff and the appropriate treatment of individuals with suspected Coronavirus or any other highly infectious disease who seek care at our hospitals and outpatient clinics. We have the necessary protective supplies, equipment, and medications on hand to provide safe care.

What preventive actions can you take?

  • Remember to take everyday preventive actions that are always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol

When should you seek medical care?

If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have traveled to China or were in close contact with someone with COVID -19 in the 14 days before you began to feel sick, seek medical care. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine for the Treatment or Prevention of COVID-19

Recent headlines have mentioned the use of hydroxychloroquine (brand name: Plaquenil®), and chloroquine (brand name: Aralen®), for the potential treatment of COVID-19. Larissa Coyle, PharmD, BCPS, and Clara Ni, PharmD, BCIDP, provide answers to the following commonly asked questions:

What are hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine usually used for?

These drugs are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. They can also be used to treat and prevent malaria.

Does taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine treat COVID-19?

As of right now, there are no FDA approved medications for the treatment of COVID-19. In fact, most people who get COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms, and do just fine without taking any medications.

I heard hospitals around the world are giving these medications to patients that are hospitalized with COVID-19. Is that true?

Yes, only for patients with moderate to severe disease.

While there is no known cure for COVID-19, scientists and doctors are trying to find medications that can help patients get better faster. Unfortunately, a lot of these medications, like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, come with severe side effects. In patients who are not very sick and can get better by themselves, taking these experimental medications can cause more harm than benefit. On the other hand, patients who are so sick that they need to be in the hospital may benefit even from an experimental medication and can be monitored for side effects.

If my physician thinks I have COVID-19, should I ask for one of these medications to decrease my symptoms?

No.

For patients with COVID-19 who can be treated at home, there is no evidence that these medications are going to help you feel better any faster than just staying at home and resting. These medications can also cause serious side effects, most notably related to the heart. There have already been reports of patients overdosing and dying from taking hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine inappropriately.

I am worried about getting COVID-19. Will taking one of these medications prevent me from getting it?

NO.

These medications will not prevent someone from getting COVID-19, and there have been reports of patients overdosing and dying from these medications when they are taken improperly. There has also been a report of 2 people who bought chloroquine powder from an animal supply store, and took it, thinking that the medication would prevent them from getting COVID-19. Both were hospitalized, and one passed away from the heart-related side-effects. The powder found in animal supply stores is not the same as the medication dispensed from a pharmacy. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine should never be taken without a prescription from your provider!

Still have questions?

  • In West Virginia, members of the public with general questions should call the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-887-4304.
  • In Virginia members of the public should call 1-877-ASK-VDH3 (1-877-275-8543) or 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

For more information about COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and links to Virginia Department of Health, West Virginia Department of Health and CDC resources, visit valleyhealthlink.com/coronavirus.