How to Respond to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)


The constant news coverage of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Arizona and the United States raises many questions and causes anxiety for the public.

While this situation is still unfolding, we in Arizona and at Valleywise Health are prepared as we can be to handle an outbreak. At this time, it’s important to take precautions and make certain that there is access to accurate information.

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One of the most common questions I receive is, when should you visit a doctor, urgent care center or emergency room?

  • If you are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms such as:
    • Cough
    • Congestion
    • Sore throat
    • Fever
  • And you have not recently traveled to an area with widespread outbreak, and you have not had close contact with a person known to have or suspected COVID-19, make sure you stay home, get plenty of rest, drink fluids and take pain and fever reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • If you have recently traveled to an area with widespread outbreak, or had close contact with a person known to have known or suspected COVID-19, call ahead prior to making a clinic appointment, visiting an urgent care center or the emergency room.

Most reported cases have been mild, with cold and flulike symptoms, but some cases have resulted in severe respiratory complications that requires hospitalization. Current research shows older age individuals and those with underlying disease (COPD, diabetes, immunosuppression, etc.) may be risk factors.

The best advice is to practice good hygiene and common-sense measures like you would with any infection.. Those things include:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds – hand sanitizer (with 60-90% alcohol content) is a second option.
  2. Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes, especially with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  4. If you are sick, stay at home.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing – DON’T cough or sneeze into your hands. Wash your hands afterwards.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects in your home, car and workplace.
  7. If you are traveling overseas, make sure to follow CDC guidelines at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.

At Valleywise Health, we are handling this in the same way we manage other diseases that require droplet and airborne precautions. We are in constant communication with the state health department and Maricopa County Department of Public Health about the best way to ensure the safety of our patients, employees, learners, volunteers and visitors.

We plan and prepare for these types of events. We will continue to communicate the latest updates to the public, our employees, patients and visitors.

About the Author

Dr. Michael White, MD - Chief Medical Officer

Michael White, MD, joined Valleywise Health as Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer (EVP, CMO) in August 2019. In his role, Dr. White works to advance the Mission, Vision and Values of Valleywise Health to improve clinical outcomes, enhance patient experience, and grow key programs. He also serves as a liaison with our partners at District Medical Group and the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance.

Read more posts by Dr. Michael White, MD  Browse all topics

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