7 COVID-19 tips from an Emergency physician
As our community works to establish a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some things we can all do to help ourselves and each other. UC Davis Emergency Medicine physician Bryn Mumma has 7 tips that can guide us along the way:
1. Don't wait if you're having an emergency: Come to the Emergency Department.
We are here to care for you in all cases, including medical and psychiatric emergencies. Our Emergency Department has the equipment and processes to keep everyone as safe as possible. We're seeing people come to us when they are critically ill and requiring a breathing tube, ventilator and emergency hemodialysis. Those same people might not have needed these measures if they'd come in earlier. In some cases, patients are coming in too late to receive interventions. Don't delay care.
2. If it's not an emergency, still seek care.
Minor health problems like a sore throat, ankle sprain or cut can often be handled at a UC Davis Health primary care clinic or urgent care center. We are offering telehealth video visits, which allows you to be seen by your health care team from the comfort and safety of your own home. For COVID-19 testing, you can visit one of many drive-through testing sites across Northern California.
3. Stay home if you feel sick.
Aside from seeking medical care, stay home if you feel seek. Do not go to work, to the store, to visit family – anywhere. COVID-19 can cause many different symptoms, from rash to fever to diarrhea, so the fact that your symptoms are different from someone else’s doesn’t mean that you can’t have COVID. Even if you don’t have coronavirus, you may have another contagious illness. Our society tends to value “sucking it up” and working while sick; this was never good, and hopefully COVID-19 will be the catalyst for changing this mentality.
4. Wash your hands.
While COVID-19 can be spread through the air, experts generally agree that most coronavirus spread occurs from people touching contaminated surfaces. This is even more important as society reopens and we have more contact with each other and high-touch surfaces. Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your car and wash your hands immediately after returning home. In our house, the first thing my family does when we get home is take our shoes off at the door, and the second is to wash our hands.
5. Practice physical distancing, not social distancing.
Stay 6 feet away from people, but make sure to socially connect with your family and friends. This is so important for your mental health to maintain those relationships. You can do this through virtual chats or happy hours. Or you can come up with more creative in-person ways, like playing "Simon Says" across the street.
6. Get outside.
We're so fortunate to live an area where we can be outside during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom specifically encouraged outdoor activities as long as we are maintaining 6 feet of space between others. Being outside has many physical and mental health benefits, including increased energy, creativity, and vitamin D, as well as better sleep. There's lower – but not zero – risk of COVID-19 transmission in outdoor environments. As we reopen, outdoor seating at restaurants, picnics, and backyard BBQs is likely safer than smaller, indoor environments.
7. Be kind to others.
Recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic poses unique challenges for everyone. Everyone has different struggles, and everyone responds differently to these challenges. Some are working overtime, while others wish they had a job. Offer to pick up groceries for a friend or medications for your elderly neighbor. Thank essential workers in all industries for providing the goods and services you want and need. We’re all in this together. Crises tend to bring out the best and worst in people – focus on the good.