Mar 5, 2020 - News

Feeling sick and worried about coronavirus? Here’s what you should do



Just a cough or a runny nose isn’t reason enough to think you have the coronavirus. It is allergy season after all.

But if you’re feeling under the weather — especially if you think there’s a chance you may have been exposed to COVID-19 — here are six things you can do, according to experts at Atrium Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(1) Schedule a virtual care visit with your primary care provider.

Atrium’s Medical Director for Infection Prevention, Dr. Katie Passaretti, encourages individuals who don’t need to be in waiting rooms and healthcare facilities to use other methods of care, like virtual care visits.

“For many illnesses,” Atrium spokesman Chris Berger says, “a person can do a virtual visit at Atrium Health and have a live, face-to-face video visit with a healthcare provider and often be able to diagnose you on the spot.”

Many health insurance companies offer an e-visit option, and local hospitals like Atrium and Novant Health have their own virtual care sites for about $35-$49 a visit.

Staying home to do a virtual visit also limits your exposure to diseases like coronavirus and limits your ability to spread anything, too. Plus you get to stay in your PJs.

(2) Wash your hands with soap for 20 whole seconds.

And do it often. “We, as a society, have gotten intermittently lax about washing (our) hands,” Passaretti says.

Washing your hands well is important all the time, but especially right now as coronavirus spreads.

For a time reference, 20 seconds is about how long it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice, the CDC notes.

(3) If you’re not feeling 100 percent, stay home from work.

I know this is easier said than done. Many Charlotteans, especially those in the service industry, don’t get paid sick days. But Passaretti says staying home when you’re sick is one of the most important steps to take.

“I think (businesses) needs to look at their sick leave policy, make sure that it … doesn’t encourage people to work while sick,” she says.

(4) Stop touching your face.

It’s a tough habit to break, I know. Unless you just washed your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

(5) Lose the handshake. Opt for the fist bump or wave instead.

Handshakes, Passaretti says, present the potential of transferring germs. Maybe you’re great about washing your hands; others may not be as vigilant. A fist bump, or a wave from a distance, controls the risk of spreading any germs.

“You can’t control what other people do as far as hand washing and what-not, but you can control what you do,” she says. “So if you do shake hands, make sure you’re washing your hands.”

(6) Clean “high-touch” areas in your home and office frequently.

The CDC says high-touch surfaces include tables, desks, keyboards, tablets, countertops, doorknobs, toilets, and your phone.

OK, but what happens if I actually have coronavirus?

There hasn’t been a case of coronavirus in Charlotte yet. Passaretti says, if that was to happen, Atrium would “identify, isolate, and inform.” This means completing tests to confirm infection, isolating the patient at home or at the hospital depending on the individual’s condition, and informing others who may have been exposed.

If you believe you’ve been exposed to coronavirus, call 1-866-462-3821 or 911 for emergencies.

For more information, head to the Mecklenburg County Public Health’s online resource or call its information hotline at 980-314-9400.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Charlotte stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Charlotte.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more