A sincere THANK-YOU to all nurses as you continue to work tirelessly during this stressful time related to COVID-19. As the most trusted profession, your concerns are extremely import to NNA and the Board of Directors. We will keep you updated as the days progress and with communication we receive by the CDC, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, the Nebraska Medical Association, our legislators and governor, Nebraska Board of Nursing, and other associations.
As nurses, many of the tips regarding handwashing is drilled in our heads when we begin nursing school. Here are a list of possible symptoms and some additional tips that you can use to share with others.
- Possible symptoms or COVID-19 2-14 days after exposure include:
- Shortness of breath
- If you develop emergent warning signs for COVID-19 seek medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or difficulty to arouse
- Bluish face or lips
****This list is not all inclusive. Please contact your doctor or medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
What to do if you are sick with COVID Virus
Most likely you are saturated with advice on how to prevent contracting COVID-19. Now that the coronavirus is likely in your community, the Nebraska Nurses Association has some commonsense advice in case you do get sick.
Most cases are mild, but you can still spread it to others. If you do become sick, STAY HOME and rest. Avoid contact with others in your home, including pets. Practice sneezing or cough (into your elbow) and immediately wash your hands. Continue mindfulness when it comes to touching your eyes, nose and mouth and continue practicing preventive actions; this includes washing your hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds;
If you feel you need to be seen or tested, contact your provider first. They may be able to give you advice over the phone to help prevent the spread and keep others from getting infected. This is not the time to go to the emergency room requesting testing- unless you have emergent warning signs. If you have a chronic illness, be sure you have access to your prescription medications and that intermittent use medications like inhalers aren’t expired.
Things you should stock up on to deal with the symptoms of COVID-19 include over-the-counter fever reducers, cough and cold medication, and tissues (items that you would normally need if you have a respiratory illness; contact your provider for advice specific to your situation).
Wearing a regular facemask at home can help prevent the spread of disease to others. Avoid sharing dishes, towels, bedding, etc. Dispose of contaminated masks and tissues in a lined trash can. Wipe down all high-touch surfaces such as counters, doorknobs, toilets and phones every day. If your household has more than one bathroom, reserve one for those who are sick. Once the symptoms have resolved, replace your toothbrush!
Humidified air might help, but make sure you clean yours properly so as not to make matters worse. Nasal saline drops are just as effective. Try not to crank up the heat in your home as hotter air is generally dryer. Open windows if you can to allow fresh air to circulate.
MOST importantly, stay hydrated and don’t forget to make sure older adults and children are getting enough fluids. Urine that is clear and without strong odor is a good indicator that you are drinking enough water. Water is perfect, by the way – avoid sugary drinks.
It is well-established that social distancing will get us back to “normal” more quickly so please adhere to the recommendations and continue to avoid public places when at all possible. VIGILANCE (not panic) is key for reducing the burden of disease and for all of us to return to life as usual.
Develop Contingency Plans
- Identify everyone who needs to be part of your plan and what his/her needs are. This should include things like health or medical conditions, medication needs, medical equipment needs, dietary needs, and other things you’d take into account during any other type of emergency. Current information about COVID-19 suggests that older adults and those with underlying chronic medical conditions may be at risk for more serious complications.
- Create an emergency contact list. Identify everyone who needs to be part of your plan and what his/her needs are. This should include things like health or medical conditions, medication needs, medical equipment needs, dietary needs, and other things you’d take into account during any other type of emergency. Don’t forget to include social services that are part of your daily life, including things like student meal programs and mental health services.
- Determine who can work from home if you have young or ill children. Notify your employer of changes in schedule and ask about any changes in attendance policies.
- Avoid gathering in public places. Use “social distancing” by keeping 6 feet away from other persons in the event that you must go out in public. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to 6 feet. When schools or employers are temporarily dismissed, avoid gathering in groups in public places. This will help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
- Stay in touch with others by phone or email. If you live alone and become sick, you may need help. Stay in touch with family, friends and healthcare providers by phone or telemedicine if possible. Check on those with chronic medical conditions periodically.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 information. These 2 websites will have the latest national and local information available:
- Take care of your family’s emotional health. Outbreaks can be stressful for adults and children. Children respond differently to stressful situations than adults. Talk with your children about the outbreak, try to stay calm, and reassure them that they are safe.
- Take care of yourself! Make sure you and your family drink plenty of water, eat regular meals, allow yourself to get 8 hours sleep and breathe.
Remember that most cases of COVID-19 are mild. Taking these precautions are not only to help yourself but to prevent spread to others in your community especially those who are high-risk based on age and pre-existing conditions.
Make sure to reach out to your health care provider by phone if you have any health concerns.
VIGILANCE (not panic) is key for reducing the burden of disease and for all of us to return to life as usual.
Kim Houtwed, MBA, BSN RN
State Director, Nebraska Nurses Association