How does SARS-CoV-2 spread? How long does it last on surfaces?

SARS-CoV-2 can spread between infected or non-infected people and infected people may or may not appear sick. The disease can spread between people from small droplets when someone coughs or exhales but they can also spread when these droplets land on any surface.

Recent preliminary research suggests that the novel coronavirus can survive on some surfaces for up to 3 days. This new research has not been peer-reviewed or published and is incomplete, therefore its conclusions cannot be treated as fact. This study has now been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, see my comments here.

What are the symptoms?

  • High fever (fever > 100.4ºF, a high fever is > 101.5ºF)
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath

What if I think I may have COVID-19?

Call your primary care provider and discuss your symptoms with them over the phone. If they determine you should be tested, they’ll order the test and work with local and state health departments to coordinate the testing. Follow the Washington State Department of Health’s steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community found here.

How is my insurance coverage affected by the novel coronavirus?

The state of Washington has provided a page with a lot of information on how different types of insurance coverage may be affected, click here for that information.

If you have a state-regulated health plan (individual health plans, small employer health plans and some large employer plans) testing for SARS-CoV-2 and the associated office visit and lab testing is covered without copays or deductibles.

What if I don’t have health insurance?

If you do not have health insurance, the Washington Health Benefits Exchange has opened a limited-time enrollment period through April 8, 2020. 

Until April 8, individuals seeking a special enrollment must contact the Customer Support Center between 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 1-855-627-9604, or a local certified broker or navigator, request the SEP, and select a plan by April 8 for coverage start date beginning April 1, 2020. Language assistance and disability accommodations are provided at no cost.

For more information, click here.

Okay, I’m working from home / out of work / etc – what now?

Physicians and mental health experts emphasize how critical it is to maintain your normal routine. That means following your typical sleep and meal schedules and getting exercise. This certainly has the potential to be very isolating, so please do what you can to reach out to family, friends and colleagues and virtually check-in frequently.

I’m a parent, how do I help my child/teen cope with anxiety or fear about COVID-19?

Here’s a great article from Seattle Children’s that offers some really great information for how to help your kids (and it’s wise information for yourselves as well!). My biggest takeaway, and the impetus for writing this document, is to limit your information seeking to a few credible sources. This will help you stay informed without feeling overwhelmed. Summary points below, but you can read the whole article here.

  1. Get the facts
  2. Check-in and ask what questions they have
  3. Watch for changes in behavior
  4. Help them face anxiety and stick to routines
  5. Limit media coverage
  6. Take care of yourself

There’s also a great resource created by NPR and it’s a comic for kids about coronavirus. Check it out here.

I’ve heard the rumors, is it true there’s a quarantine/national lockdown coming?

Governor Inslee confirmed yesterday (3/16/20) that to his knowledge, there is currently no plan for a quarantine or forced lockdown.


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