This post first appeared March 16th, 2020 and has been continually updated since then.
For nearly a decade, BPI has been committed to engaging public health as a rewarding area of academic study and a promising career field, ripe for the contributions our alumni are uniquely positioned to make.
As we are currently in the midst of a global public health crisis spawned by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the BPI Public Health Program will be providing the BPI community with updated and ongoing information and recommendations for how individuals and communities can minimize the risk of contracting and spreading the virus and what we can do if we become infected. We are aware that there is a lot of false and confusing information circulating right now. Drawing on the expertise of our staff and alumni in the field of public health, our aim is to provide a trusted resource for information.
What should happen if you think you might have the coronavirus?
The highest priority is knowing what to do if you are now feeling ill or soon begin to feel sick. Please follow these guidelines and please call the hotlines/helplines listed below for further guidance and assistance:
- Stay home and call a nearby doctor’s office if you have cold or flu-like symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, fever or sore throat.
- If you do not feel better in 24-48 hours, seek care from a doctor, but make sure you contact the provider ahead of time before going to a hospital, so they can take the necessary precautions.
- Avoid going out in public. Do not go to school or to work until you have been fever-free for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing drugs.
- For medical questions and/or care call NYC Health & Hospitals Helpline 844-NYC-4NYC (1-844-692-4692) or 311; other cities have helplines for medical care and each state does as well, easily located in google or at the city and/or state health departments.
- NYC will provide care regardless of immigration status or ability to pay; this goes for hospitals too.
- The New York State Department of Health coronavirus hotline is 1-888-364-3065; New Jersey’s hotline is 1-800-222-1222.
If you are sick, take these steps to protect close contacts/others in the home
- Stay in different rooms. If not possible, stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Wear a mask (or somehow cover your mouth and nose) when you need to be around anyone.
- Wash your hands frequently (soap and water for 20 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol).
- Do not touch your face.
- Do not share personal items with other people in your house: dishes, towels, bedding. Use a separate bathroom if possible.
- Clean all surfaces that are touched with household cleaning spray.
What to do to limit risk and help minimize the spread of the virus
It is imperative that each of us do our best to practice proven methods for minimizing the likelihood that we will contract the COVID-19 coronavirus. Most importantly, please do all that you can to avoid leaving your home or wherever you are residing that keeps you at most reduced risk of coming into contact with COVID-19.
Please do your best to combine (a) social distancing in the form of isolating yourself and your family somewhere safe and free from contact with others who may be carrying the virus, whether they demonstrate symptoms or not, with (b) practicing consistent individual health habits.
Here are several measures to reduce your risk:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or flexed elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, sneezing, or coughing.
- Stay home as much as possible and most essentially if you aren’t feeling well. If you start to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, seek medical attention immediately (see above).
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch.
- Wear a face covering (mask or cloth cover) when leaving home for any reason. And review this face-covering FAQ page from the NYC Dept. of Health (DOHMH). Please note that we recommend wearing a face covering at all times when outside, including exercising, if you absolutely must go running or walking.
Maintaining Health and Wellness
- Get at least 1 month’s worth of your prescriptions so you don’t have to worry about running out while staying at home. If you have asthma, make sure you have albuterol at home.
- Keep over-the-counter medicines on hand. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath; over-the-counter medications listed below may help relieve these symptoms.
- To boost your immune system: vitamin C packets such as Emergen-C
- For fever and body aches: preferably Tylenol (generic = acetaminophen)
- For nasal congestions: decongestant such as pseudoephedrine (people with high blood pressure should avoid this) or phenylephrine; name-brand versions include Sudafed or Mucinex; or Vicks VapoRub for topical relief
- For cold or flu symptoms: Dayquil for daytime, Nyquil for nighttime, Alka-Seltzer Plus, zinc throat lozenges
- For kids with cold or flu symptoms – children’s acetaminophen such as Children’s Tylenol
- Stay hydrated.
- Get enough sleep.
- Practice Meditation/Breathing exercises.
- Remember to move your body/exercise if you are able to do so.
Click HERE for a COVID-19 Glossary of Terms
Should you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or experiencing heightened anxiety due to concern about the coronavirus pandemic, please access the following resources:
- New York State COVID-19 Emotional Support Line: 1-844-863-9314
- New York State OMH Tips for Mental Wellness During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- NYC DOHMH Coping with stress and anxiety document
- NYC Well is a confidential 24/7 helpline, staffed by trained counselors. They can provide brief counseling and referrals to care in over 200 languages and other resources.
- Call 888-NYC-WELL (888-692- 9355)
- Text “WELL” to 65173, or chat at nyc.gov/nycwell
- CDC Coping with stress webpage
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (Federal): SAMHSA –Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
- SAMHSA Hotlines SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline Toll-Free: 1-800-985-5990 (English and español) SMS: Text TalkWithUs to 66746 SMS (español): “Hablanos” al 66746 TTY: 1-800-846-8517
- Website in English: https://www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov
- Website in Spanish: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/ disaster-distress-helpline/espanol
If you wish to keep updated on information and best practices related to dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, please refer to these trusted sites:
- NYS Dept. of Health
- NYC DOHMH-COVID19 Website
- CDC COVID-19 Summary Page–Consolidation of Essential Information
- American Public Health Association COVID-19 Info Page
- Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center
If you have any questions or concerns about the material shared here, please contact Gabriel N. Mendes, BPI Director of Public Health Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please check back here regularly at the BPI Blog for ongoing public health-related information, recommendations, and resources. We will also share updates in the BPI alumni Facebook group and across BPI social media platforms.