Spring Break and COVID-19

There is good evidence suggesting the rapid spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-19, the virus that causes COVID-19. Two ideas are important as you make your Spring Break plans: prevention of SARS-CoV-19 infection, and what to do if you do think you have COVID-19.

Prevention is straightforward, and you already know what to do. Nonetheless, it is prudent to remind us all.

  • Wash your hands. Wash them with soap and water for 20 seconds, scrubbing all the surfaces of your hands; this prevents touching a contaminated doorknob and then placing the virus in your nose or mouth inadvertently. Depending on the surface and the weather, SARS-CoV-19 may stay infective from as little as 4 hours to as long as a week outside the body.
  • If you can't wash, use hand sanitizer and rub it into all the surfaces of your hands. Rub it until it is completely evaporated, it takes at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough. Cough into a tissue or your sleeve; this prevents you from spraying potentially infective particles into the shared environment.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from someone else who is coughing. Other people may not cover their coughs, and the respiratory droplets – the thing responsible for the spread of SARS-CoV-19 most commonly – can launch several feet when coughing; 6 feet or more should keep you out of the spray.

But nobody's perfect. Despite taking all precautions, you may find you don't feel well, and you might worry that you have COVID-19. If you think you have COVID-19, don't panic. Here is what you should do:

  • Stay home; avoid other people and public areas.
  • At home, keep your distance from other people and pets. If you cuddle your dog or cat, they may transmit the virus to someone else.
  • Don't seek medical care or testing if your symptoms are mild. The test won't change how you are treated, or how things turn out.
  • More significant symptoms would include shortness of breath, continuous fever, confusion and lethargy. If you have these, see a doctor.
  • If you decide to see a doctor, call ahead. The doctor's office can make preparations to minimize the chance you will infect everybody else.
  • One can always call the doctor's office for advice if you don't know what to do.

We would like for you to come back to school healthy to finish out the Spring Semester. If nature conspires and interferes, let us know what is going on. MSU Texas will work with you to get the best for you and your health.

Keith Williamson, MD, FAAFP
Medical Director, Midwestern State University
Vinson Health Center