Coronavirus FAQs for the General Public
Updated September 29, 2020 12:44 PM
- COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has now spread globally.
- While anyone can be infected, most people experience mild symptoms and do not need to go to the hospital.
- Common symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, extreme exhaustion, and fatigue.
- People most at risk for severe disease are older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart disease.
- Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Kansas and Sedgwick County.
- Sedgwick County Health Department is closely monitoring this issue and is coordinating with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
- We anticipate more cases of COVID-19 in Sedgwick County in the coming days or weeks.
- If you have questions related to COVID-19 or testing, you can call the Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) at (316) 660-1022.
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).
The Sedgwick County Health Department recommends all older adults and those with a serious underlying health condition (a condition that impairs your lung or heart function or weakens your immune system) stay home and away from other people.
What should I do if I recently traveled?
Please check the KDHE website for the most up-to-date travel restrictions. If you have traveled to one of the places on the dates mentioned above, self-report travel by calling (316) 660-7300. If you have questions about recommendations, please call the Sedgwick County Health Department.
What does home quarantine or self-isolation mean?
Home quarantine or self-isolation means that you should not attend school, work, or any other setting where you are not able to ALWAYS maintain a 6-foot distance from other people such as stores.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a human respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. This novel virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Health experts are still studying how this novel virus spreads. It is spread by respiratory droplets.
- By coughing and sneezing
- By close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- By touching an object or surface with the virus on it and touching your face
People are most likely to spread the disease when they have symptoms, but some people may spread the virus before they show symptoms. This is why it is important to follow public health orders to remain at home, especially if quarantined because of travel or close contact with a case.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, 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 (swelling of the tubes into the lungs), pneumonia (infection in the lungs often with fluid build up), kidney failure, and even death. People over 60 years old and those with other underlying health conditions are more likely to have severe complications.
How soon after exposure do symptoms start?
In general, symptoms appear 2 – 14 days after exposure.
How can I help protect myself and my family?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- A list of products approved to kill coronavirus can be found HERE.
- Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent novel coronavirus infections.
- Follow public health orders and guidelines.
Testing 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 who are currently being tested for COVID-19 should remain in home isolation, or hospital isolation if symptoms are severe enough to be hospitalized until test results are available. If the test result is negative, isolation is no longer required. If test results are positive for COVID-19, the person must remain in isolation until released by a health department.
People wanting to be 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.
I’m showing symptoms of COVID-19. Should I be tested?
Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory viruses. Your provider may be able to collect a sample and send to a private lab. Some tests can be done at the state lab, but testing is prioritized for those at highest risk for complications and for other public health priorities, like healthcare workers.
My employer is requiring me to be tested before they will let me come back to work. How can I get tested?
Those who are quarantined should not return to work until 14 days after travel or exposure. For those who had symptoms, they should not return to work until 10 days after onset of symptoms or 72 hours (3 full days per KDHE guidance) after symptoms stop without fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.
How do we test for COVID-19?
A healthcare provider obtains swabs deep in a person’s nose for the test. The provider sends the swabs to a commercial laboratory or the state health department (Kansas Department of Health and Environment).
At this time, antibody and antigen tests have not been formally approved by the FDA therefore the SCHD is not offering these types of tests.
How long do test results typically take?
The time it takes to receive results varies based on the lab. Results will typically be reported in 4-5 business days depending on the lab.
Healthcare providers and the local health department in the patient’s county are notified of positive test results.
What is the difference between a sample collection kit and a test kit?
A sample collection kit is a kit containing all supplies and order forms needed for healthcare providers to collect a swab from a person suspected of having COVID-19.
A test kit is what laboratory staff uses with the machine to test for COVID-19.
Is it safe to touch delivered items like packages or food delivery?
The risk of getting sick from a package is low. Early experiments suggests the new coronavirus is stable on some surfaces for hours to days; however, the risk of getting a virus from a delivery is lower than the risk of getting the virus from going to the store. Washing your hands after handling delivered items and avoiding touching your face will lower the risk even more.
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 “How can I help protect myself and my family?”)
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 is a close contact?
A close contact is a person who has been within about 6 feet of a person with confirmed novel coronavirus infection for a prolonged period of time (more than 10 minutes per KDHE guidance) or has had direct contact with body fluids from a person with confirmed novel coronavirus infection.
What is a “person under investigation (PUI)?”
When can a person who tests positive resume normal activities?
The person can return to normal activities 10 days after symptoms start OR 72 hours (3 full days per KDHE guidance) after symptoms stop without taking fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.
What steps do health department staff take to investigate people who may have COVID-19?
- If a person is identified as a Person Under Investigation (PUI), the person is tested and remains at home.
- If results are positive, 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.
a.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.
3. If the test result are negative, the PUI can return to normal activities, unless they are under quarantine for contact with a positive case or travel history.
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 Sedgwick County Health Department contacts the person via an automated text or email message system every day for 14 days.
How does the automated text message system work?
The message system will prompt the person to answer “yes” to a survey if they are experiencing a fever and respiratory symptoms.
- If yes, a Sedgwick County Health Department employee will call for further evaluation.
- If no, the message will end.
- If no response or incorrect contact information, then health department staff will contact by other means.
Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?
To date, CDC has only a few reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. If you are sick, limit contact with pets and other animals. Though the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 is low, animals can spread other diseases to people. Wash your hands after being around animals.
Should I avoid animals or animal products imported from China?
CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
I'm having trouble finding child care services and I need to go back to work. What are my options?
You can contact Child Care Aware of Kansas at 1-877-678-2548 if you need help finding licensed child care options. Additionally, the following child care arrangements do not require a license from KDHE:
- Children receiving care in their own home
- Children cared for by relatives
- Anyone (friend, teacher, relative) caring for 2 children for less than 20 hours per week