The CMTA is aware that the coronavirus (COVID-19) may have more of an impact on people and families who are at higher risk of infection, so we are reaching out to share resources and ensure you are informed.
Currently, the coronavirus in the U.S. is concentrated in specific areas and communities. Because CMT and neuromuscular diseases vary in severity from one person to the next, it is difficult to make recommendations across the board for everyone. However, we do know that many individuals, especially those with respiratory issues affected by CMT may fall within the category of “People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19”, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Depending on your personal health and the situation in your local area, here is some information surrounding most frequently asked questions as well as information to keep in mind when putting a plan together for preventing and/or dealing with the Coronavirus:
What is Coronavirus and how is it spread?
The new virus is called SARS-CoV-2, which is part of the family of betacoronaviruses that are common in people and various animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. The original spread from live animal markets in China has now continued with person to person transmission leading to global spread which is evolving rapidly. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is now known as COVID-19.
The virus is spread from 1) person-to-person exposure (principal means of transmission) and 2) surfaces exposed to the virus. Exposure is by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes leading to transmission to others in close proximity. A challenge is that some transmission can occur before an infected individual becomes ill making it hard to isolate that individual. The highest risk of spreading is from those that have symptoms of fever and respiratory illness. Late in the illness there is the potential for gastrointestinal infection and exposure from stool. Spreading from infected surfaces can be managed by careful handwashing (see below).
What are symptoms of Coronavirus?
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Findings compatible with SARS-CoV-2 infection include fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing. What Should People at Higher Risk Do for Prevention?
- Stock up on supplies.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
- During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
What Should You Do if You’re Sick
For neuromuscular disease patients, it is important that you seek prompt medical attention if you or anyone in your household is identified with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or for documented exposure to an individual who has tested positive. Before seeking care, you should contact your healthcare provider and tell them that you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has or is being evaluated for COVID-19. It is important to notify your healthcare provider of your symptoms and potential exposure prior to entering a healthcare provider’s office to ensure proper precautions can be taken to help keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected or exposed.
Contact your healthcare provider or health department to see if you should be tested. Your healthcare provider will provide guidance for having your symptoms evaluated and monitored.
If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you or a member of your household has, or is being evaluated for SARS-CoV-2. You should go to an Emergency Room or Urgent Care facility if you are having shortness of breath or experiencing worsening symptoms. It is important that you call ahead to the facility and notify them if you or a member of your household has or is being evaluated for SARS-CoV-2.
The CDC has developed guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.
How Can I Prevent the Virus from Affecting Me or My Family?
There is currently no preventative vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.