COVID-19 FAQs for Providers

This document contains information regarding novel coronavirus/COVID-19, testing and reporting information, personal protective equipment, and additional resources.

Guidance for Asymptomatic Healthcare, Law Enforcement and Public Health Workers with Exposure to COVID-19

News Update

Updated May 29, 2020 3:00 PM

Sedgwick County Health Department monitors and investigates reports of disease every day, from whooping cough and chickenpox to tuberculosis and HIV. Staff are trained in methods to reduce the spread of disease. You can help, too. COVID-19 is a new disease but it spreads the same as the flu, through respiratory droplets (ex. coughing and sneezing).

What is the Person Under Investigation (PUI) criteria for providers to report to KDHE?

Testing Approval Form

If a patient fits the above criteria, report suspect cases to KDHE Epidemiology Hotline (1-877-427-7317).

How do we test for COVID-19?

A laboratory test for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is performed by the state health department laboratory in Topeka or through commercial laboratories. Small swabs from a person’s nose are used for the test. Testing can be requested by a healthcare provider contacting the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (1-877-427-7317) or a commercial laboratory (Quest and LabCorp). People wanting tested at the Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) should call the SCHD at (316) 660-1022 to begin the screening process for no cost testing. 

What recommendations can I give to patients to protect themselves from COVID-19?

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with fever over 100.4ºF, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, extreme exhaustion, and fatigue.

What are severe complications from this virus?

In severe cases, infection can cause bronchitis, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. People over 60 years old and those with other underlying health conditions are more likely to have severe illness.

How soon after exposure do symptoms start?

In general symptoms appear 2 – 14 days after exposure.

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus (See “What recommendations can I give to patients to protect themselves from COVID-19”)

Is there a treatment?

There are no medications specifically approved for this novel coronavirus, although some, like Remdesivir, are being considered.  Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications.  However, some people have developed pneumonia and require medical care or hospitalization.

What steps do health department staff take to investigate people who may have COVID-19?

  1. If a person is identified as a Person Under Investigation (PUI), the person is tested and remains at home. The Sedgwick County Health Department is notified and remains in contact with the person.

  2. Samples are collected from the PUI and sent to the state health department laboratory or a commercial laboratory for testing.

  3. While waiting for test results, health department staff will interview the PUI to create a detailed timeline of where he or she went while potentially infectious. Officials will create a contact list of people who had close contact with the PUI.

    1. If the test result comes back positive (virus is present), health department staff will contact those who had close contact with the PUI. Contacts will be asked to self-monitor for fever, cough, and difficulty breathing for 14 days after the last time they were in close contact with the positive case.

    2. If the test result are negative, the PUI can return to normal activities.

What is a “person under investigation (PUI)?”

A person under investigation (PUI) is an ill person with possible novel coronavirus infection. A PUI is someone who meets one of the criteria outlined previously. If a person is considered a PUI, KDHE will coordinate with the local health department and healthcare provider to collect samples for testing.

What is a confirmed case?

A confirmed case is defined as a person who has tested positive at the state health department laboratory or at a commercial laboratory AND at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When can a person who tests positive resume normal activities?

A person can return to normal activities 10 days after symptoms start OR 72 hours (3 full days) after symptoms stop after taking fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.

How will people be informed if they have been in contact with a case?

If a person is identified as a contact of a case, the Sedgwick County Health Department will call them. After the initial call, the SCHD contacts the person via an automated text message system  or email every day for 14 days.

How does the automated text message system work?

The text message will prompt the person to press a button if they are experiencing a fever and respiratory symptoms.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements for Healthcare Providers Collecting Specimen Swabs from a Patient Suspected of Having COVID-19

What testing and standards should I consider when looking for CDC-recommended protective clothing?

What type of gown is recommended for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

What types of gowns are available for healthcare personnel to protect from COVID-19?

What is the difference between gowns and coveralls?

How do I put on (don) and take off (doff) my gown?

Is it acceptable for emergency medical services to wear coveralls as an alternative to gowns when COVID-19 is suspected in a patient needing emergency transport?

Gloves

What type of glove is recommended to care for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

What standards should be considered when choosing gloves?

Is double gloving necessary when caring for suspected or confirmed CoVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

Are extended length gloves necessary when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?

How I do put on (don) and take off (doff) my gloves?

Respirators

Should I wear a respirator, such as an N95 respirator, in public?

What is a respirator?

What is an N95 filtering facepiece respirator (FFR)?

What are the two main types of masks for medical use?

There are two main types of masks for medical use – N95 or “facemasks” (also called surgical or earloop masks)

What is an N95 respirator?

N95 respirators are used by healthcare employees that have exposures to respiratory pathogens.

What is a facemask (also called a surgical mask, procedure mask, or earloop mask)?

What is a Surgical N95 respirator and who needs to wear it?

My employees complain that Surgical N95 respirators are hot and uncomfortable – what can I do?

My N95 respirator has an exhalation valve, is that okay?

How can I tell if a respirator is NIOSH-approved?

How do I know if my respirator is expired?

What do I do with an expired respirator?

Eye Protection

What methods should healthcare facilities consider in order to avoid unintentional loss of PPE during COVID-19?

Can healthcare workers and EMS staff wear facemasks if N95 masks are not available due to supply shortage?

According to CDC guidance updated on March 10, 2020, based on local and regional situational analysis of PPE supplies, facemasks are an acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand. During this time, available N95 respirators should be prioritized for procedures that are likely to generate respiratory aerosols, which would pose the highest exposure risk to healthcare workers and EMS staff.

When the supply chain is restored, facilities and agencies with a respiratory protection program should return to use of respirators for patients with known or suspected COVID-19.

Battelle Decon Process Video

Click this link to watch an instructional video on preparing and packing your masks in Sedgwick County for decontamination using the Battelle decon process.

Online Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kansas Department of Health and Environment