By Dr. Jane van Dis, OB-GYN and Maven Medical Director
Updated March 13, 2020
We know you’ve been hearing a lot about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and we hope that neither you nor your loved ones have been affected thus far. As we’ve been receiving questions from our members and our clients, I wanted to share some key resources we’ve been circulating among Maven’s team and provider network to stay up-to-date.
Take care and take precaution
Before I dive into the specifics, here are the top pieces of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that we are reminding everyone to follow.
- At home and at work, adhere to infection control guidelines: wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds ideally with soap and water.
- The virus can live on surfaces for up to 9 days but is easily disinfected, so take care to wash your hands frequently and keep surfaces clean.
- Practice social distancing, keeping at least 6’ between you and others as much as possible.
- If you are showing symptoms, have been exposed to the virus, or have traveled to high-risk countries, please avoid ride-shares, public transport, or taxis.
- If you believe you might be infected and you must go to an urgent care center or Emergency Room, be sure to wear a mask so as to prevent exposing others.
What everyone should know about the coronavirus and its symptoms
What is coronavirus (COVID-19)? Coronaviruses, named for the spiky surface of the virus like a crown or corona, is a respiratory virus that can infect both animals and people. The illness can feel like a cold or can worsen into a severe pneumonia. This coronavirus is similar in structure/function to MERS and SARs.
Key facts on COVID-19 (as of March 10, 2020)
- Incubation Period: 2-14 days; average of 5 days
- Quarantine/Isolation: If you are exposed, most employers, doctors, public health officials recommend a 14-day isolation or social separation.
- Clinical Signs: Fever (especially high fever spiking quickly), cough, body aches, headache, dizziness. More than 80% of hospitalized patients present with fever and cough, though there are reports of patients presenting with nausea/vomiting or diarrhea as well.
- Testing: The latest reports show that not all clinics and hospitals have sufficient rapid screening tests. If you have signs/symptoms described above, call your county public health office and they can direct you to testing in your area, or have someone come to your home and test you.
- Transmission: Mainly spread from person-to-person (between people who are in close contact [6 feet] or via respiratory droplets produced through coughs and sneezes) or through contact with infected surfaces or objects.
Are pregnant women or children at heightened risk?
We’re keeping our FAQs on coronavirus and pregnancy updated for women who are pregnant or postpartum and have questions about coronavirus, risks and symptoms, best practices, birth plans, breastfeeding, and more. Please visit this for the latest guidance and information, as the situation and data is evolving quickly.
The most at-risk populations for the virus are individuals over age 65, and individuals who have underlying chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. To-date, healthy individuals have had mild reactions.
At this time, we simply don’t have enough information to predict the full scope of risk for pregnant women. If you’re a parent, it’s important to know that healthy infants and children less than age 9 have been affected only by a mild illness, or no illness at all.
Here are best practices and latest learnings about the virus that we’re sharing with Maven members who are pregnant:
- A pregnant woman at any gestation, even very early pregnancy, with a fever (temperature greater than 100.4) should call her doctor. If your primary doctor is unavailable, we recommend consulting with a telehealth provider on Maven; if you have reason to believe you’ve been exposed and feel symptoms, you can evaluate your best options for seeking care by speaking with your Maven Care Advocate. You may need to go to urgent care or an Emergency Room.
- It is not yet determined whether the virus can be transmitted through breast milk, but we are following this closely.
- Based on limited data, there has not been an in-utero transmission reported—meaning no pregnant women, to our knowledge, have given birth to a baby affected by the virus.
- In a limited recent case series, none of the infants born from infected mothers have tested positive for the virus.
Telehealth can play a key role
As the virus continues to spread and traveling to in-person doctor’s offices might be limited due to public health risks, virtual healthcare can play a vital role for all of us. For any specialist or doctor’s appointments about your ongoing health and well-being (unrelated to the virus), we recommend booking a virtual care appointment to limit the risk of exposure.
If you’re concerned about the virus, we recommend using a telehealth platform as your first visit to speak virtually with a provider about your symptoms and potential exposure, ask questions or raise concerns, and seek guidance on whether you should seek in-person care.
In Maven’s virtual clinic of over 1700 specialists and providers, we have Family Physicians, OB-GYNs, and Pediatricians available on-demand, as well as Nurse Practitioners that can answer questions and help take some of the pressure (and exposure) off of Emergency Rooms. In addition, Maven’s Mental Health Specialists can help if you’re struggling with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed with all of the news and just need someone to talk to.
What employers can do in the workplace
While businesses of all sizes are navigating this situation together as it evolves, many employers are considering remote working policies, evaluating any business travel employees have scheduled, and are encouraging employees to stay home if they are sick, as is standard best practice. According to a survey of large employers with operations in the U.S. by the Business Group on Health, employees showing symptoms are taking sick leave or emergency leave, and anyone who may have been exposed to the virus is working from home when possible.
Here are best practices workplaces should follow at this time to keep their employees healthy and informed, which Maven’s People Team has implemented along with several of our partners:
- Keep employees updated through transparent and ongoing communication.
- Communicate any changes in company policies promptly.
- Make sure your workforce understands your sick leave policy and/or paid sick leave.
- Consider implementing business-related travel restrictions or recommendations if you have not already.
- Evaluate your remote working policy, and make recommendations to your workforce about social distancing or working from home.
- Provide flexibility if school closure affects your employees who are parents, or child care options may become limited.
- Make contingency plans if quarantine or isolation for portions of the workforce becomes necessary.
The bottom line
Our knowledge around the virus, best practices, and how to incorporate the latest evidence and recommendations is moving swiftly, which presents challenges for individuals, families, and workplaces. We at Maven are committed to helping our members, our providers, and our clients navigate this, and recommend staying up-to-date with information from the CDC. Our providers are equipped with the latest details sourced from reliable, evidenced-based medical and public health sources.
If you have a specific question, please let us know or schedule a virtual appointment to speak with one of Maven’s providers.
Dr. Jane van Dis is Maven’s Medical Director, a board-certified OB-GYN, and a frequent writer and speaker about gender equity in medicine. Follow her @JanevanDis.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only. The information is not intended as legal advice or medical advice, and is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis without any warranties of any kind. Moreover, due to rapidly changing developments, we make no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content at this site or other sites to which we link. For the latest information regarding COVID-19, we refer readers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov).
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