Local health officials answer your COVID-19 questions

Many residents of Grays Harbor County are seeking answers to the same questions regarding coronavirus, or COVID-19. On Thursday, Karolyn Holden, director of the county Public Health and Social Services Department, and Dr. Ken Dietrich, chief medical officer at Summit Pacific Medical Center, answered some of those questions in the course of advocating for county commissioners to declare a state emergency. The commissioners obliged. Here is some of the information from Holden and Dietrich.

Question: What should I base my health decisions on?

Answer: “We know that COVID-19 is circulating in our communities. There also are other respiratory viruses circulating at this time. I want people to base their decision to get health care NOT on whether or not they think they have COVID, but based on how they feel. Would you normally go to the doctor? If the answer is yes, call your doctor so you don’t expose others. A few exceptions to that are people who are health care providers or who are in public safety occupations. If you develop a fever and a cough, you should call your doctor because we want to test you because you have a high potential to expose a lot of other people,” Holden said.

The following answers are from Dietrich.

Question: When should I seek care?

Answer: Only really seek care if you have a high fever or difficulty breathing. And if you do seek care, call your provider first before going in.

Q: I have an infection, when can I go back to work?

A: The guidelines right now are three days without fever and/or three days without symptoms and then you can go back to work.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The symptoms are the typical cold, runny nose, sore throat. The ones we are more concerned about are high fever or shortness of breath, if you having trouble breathing and wheezing. It doesn’t seem to be causing symptoms of sneezing. So somebody with a sore throat and sneezing, it’s more likely a seasonal virus or allergies.

Q: If I have an infection what should I do?

A: Stay home. Make sure you are eating enough, drinking enough. Take some Tylenol, ibuprofen and get some rest. But if, despite all that, you’re having a high fever or having a hard time breathing, seek care.

Q: Should I get tested?

A: In practical terms, most health care systems’ testing kits are limited to patients who have a high risk or are sick enough to be in the hospital. Knowing whether a patient has coronavirus doesn’t change the diagnosis, it doesn’t change the treatment, it doesn’t change the severity. It is informational for county health departments.