What you need to know about COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
UPDATED March 25, 2020
In our community, there have been many questions regarding COVID-19 screening verses testing. Accordingly, Murfreesboro Medical Clinic and Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, in conjunction with the Rutherford County Health Department, wanted to provide you with the following information and guidelines.
Screening and testing are different
Screening is defined as answering a series of questions about active symptoms, travel history and possible exposure to a person known to have tested positive for COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). There could also be a brief physical exam involved.
After screening, patients will only be recommended for testing if they meet the criteria recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Tennessee Department of Health.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. COVID-19 symptoms are very similar to influenza (the flu) or the common cold. This is why it is required for a medical professional to determine if testing for COVID-19 is necessary. Additionally, it may be necessary for the patient to be tested for the flu or strep throat.
Testing is defined as the actual swab to the patient’s nose. The sample will be collected by a medical professional in full PPE (personal protective equipment – mask, gown, protective eye wear, face shield, etc.).This is for the safety of the medical professional and other patients. Once patients are tested they will be required to go home andself-isolate until notified of their test result, negative or positive, which could take 5-7 days.
Results are delivered to the medical provider that collected the sample. The laboratory and the medical provider will contact you with your results and instructions. Do not call for results, both Negative and Positive test results will be called to you by the medical provider that collected the sample.
Those who don’t meet testing criteria and those who are tested are encouraged to stay home and continue to follow thesuch as covering coughs and sneezes in your sleeve;not sharing household items such as glasses, dishes and bed linens; cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, like doorknobs and counters; and vigorously washing hands with soap and water frequently. People in these categories should also monitor their symptoms and call their healthcare provider if symptoms worsen or seek emergency care if symptoms become life threatening.
What if I don’t have symptoms but want to be tested?
When you call your primary care physician or the Rutherford County Health Department, you will first be evaluated to determine whether an in-person assessment is needed and if testing should be done. Most people do not need a test, particularly those with no symptoms. If you start to develop symptoms, please call the screening number below at that time. Remember to call before you go!
Additionally, if an immediate family member of yours or someone with whom you have close personal contact on a regular basis is diagnosed with COVID-19, you should remain in self-isolation up to 14 days as there is the possibility that you may contract and transmit the virus.
Is there a treatment?
In the event you test positive for COVID-19, there are no treatments currently available to treat or prevent COVID-19, but several are under investigation. The best thing that you can do is (similar to treatments for the flu) is remain isolated while also addressing the underlying symptoms. If you have heard of treatments through social media, friends, family or unaccredited online sources, please ignore and do not take any medication that is not prescribed to you by a licensed, medical professional.
Where Do I Get Answers for My Questions?
People who have concerns about their health should first call their regular health care providers. For Rutherford County residents who have questions, please call your local health department Monday –Friday 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 615-898-7880. Also, the state hotline number is available daily seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. at 833-556-2476 or 877-857-2945.
What Can the Public Do at this Time?
Follow public health guidance: Social distancing, stay home if you are sick, and practice good hand and cough/sneeze hygiene.
Patients Privacy Rights and Communicable Disease
Because of patient privacy rights that we are required to protect, we won’t be able to discuss where cases are or where they worked. However, all close contacts during the infectious period of each positive case will be directly contacted by the health department. Please know that if you have come into close contact with a case the health department will be in touch with you and they will protect your privacy as well.