Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is partnering with VIA LINK and Louisiana 211 to ensure citizens can access to the most current information available for COVID 19.  This information was prepared by the Louisiana Department of Health.

About COVID-19

Q: What is coronavirus or COVID-19?

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a contagious virus that makes people sick. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.

 

Q: How does COVID-19 spread?

Health experts are still learning the details about how this new coronavirus spreads. Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets produced when coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your   mouth, nose, or eyes

People can also become infected if they breathe in the droplets from the person who has COVID-19. This is why it’s important to stay at least 6 feet away from an infected person

 

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

For confirmed coronavirus infections, reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms (similar to the common cold) to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

 

Q: What is the incubation period for COVID-19?

The incubation period for COVID-19 is about 5 days. The range is between 4 and 7 days, although it is sometimes quicker and it sometimes may take up to 14 days.

 

Q: Is COVID-19 fatal?

While people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and abroad, the majority of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 do recover.

The virus appears to only be severe if it reaches the lungs and remains untreated. Most healthy people can recover from COVID-19 at home.

 

Q: What steps should I take to protect myself and my family?

We all have a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The single most important thing we can all do is stay home when we are sick. Social distancing, washing hands vigorously and often, coughing into the elbow.

Q: Are younger people at risk for a serious illness?

A CDC study published on March 17th shows that younger people can develop serious COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalization. This finding is different from the first reports from China.

Younger people are still much less likely to die from COVID-19 than older people.

Q:  What’s the process for COVID-19 lab result reporting to patients?

Laboratory results, both negative and positive are reported to the healthcare provider submitting the specimen for testing. Please contact your provider to get test results.

If test results are positive and the patient is in a high-risk setting, such as a nursing home, from either the OPH State Lab or a commercial laboratory, the COVID-19 Screening and Case Form will be completed to identify contact with a high-risk setting.

Public Health will follow up with all identified in high-risk settings. Guidance will be given to the facility. All contacts within the facility will be told to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms.

Treatment

Q: Is there a vaccine or medicine to treat COVID-19?

No. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for this infection. People infected with COVID-19 receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

 

Q:  Is it safe to take ibuprofen to treat symptoms of COVID-19?

The World Health Organization advises against using ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, many generic versions) based on reports of otherwise healthy people with confirmed COVID-19 who were taking an NSAID for symptom relief and developed a severe illness, especially pneumonia. 

While these are only observations and not based on scientific studies, it currently seems prudent to use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help reduce fever and ease aches and pains related to this coronavirus infection.

 

Q: What is the current guidance for ending isolation in a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 symptoms may end self-isolation when:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery meaning:
    • fever free without the use of fever-reducing medications and
    • improvement in respiratory symptoms cough, shortness of breath) and
    • at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

People with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have symptoms may end self-isolation under the following conditions:

  • fever free without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and
  • negative results from at least two consecutive nasal swabs collected ≥24 hours apart (total of two negative specimens).

People with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue self-isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness.

 

Q:  What are the recommendations for a person who has been in close contacts with someone with the illness?

  • Help the patient follow their healthcare provider’s instructions for care. Help the patient with basic needs in the home and provide support for getting groceries, prescriptions, and other personal needs.
  • Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his or her healthcare provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.
  • Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible. Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
  • Prohibit visitors who do not need to be in the home.
  • Household members should care for any pets in the home. Do not handle pets or other animals while sick.
  • Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window.
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • The patient should wear a facemask when around other people. If the patient is not able to wear a facemask, the caregiver should wear one when in the same room as the patient.
  • Wear a disposable facemask and gloves when you touch or have contact with the patient’s blood, stool, or body fluids.
  • Avoid sharing household items with the patient such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly.

 

Q: Can masks be reused?

Throw out disposable face masks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse. Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Clean your hands  immediately after handling these items.

Feeling sick? Testing for COVID-19

Q:  Should I be tested for the virus? (or a member of my family)

Only people who are ill with a fever and respiratory symptoms (cough) should be tested. 

This is because the test only tells you if you are currently infectious with the virus (not if you’ve had it or are going to get it). The CDC recently announced new guidance that allows anyone with symptoms to be tested for COVID-19 as long as their doctor approves. Unfortunately, there is more demand for testing than there are available tests, so in some locations the tests may be reserved for those who are seriously ill. 

Your healthcare provider is making the best decisions possible at this time, balancing the demand for testing with the availability of tests. This means that not everyone can get a test as soon as they want it. Not getting a test is fine if you only have mild symptoms.

If you have mild symptoms and are worried that you might have COVID-19, call your doctor or local health department instead of going to a clinic or doctor’s office without an appointment, to ensure you aren’t potentially exposing others to the virus. 

If you have severe breathing problems, seek medical attention or call 911 immediately and let the person you speak with know that you have respiratory problems and need to be isolated and seen right away.

Q:  Where can I go to get tested?

Tests sites are being set up at the local level. People wishing to be tested should seek a medical referral which would require confirmed baseline symptoms for testing at sites.  These symptoms typically include fever and one respiratory symptom such as coughing or shortness of breath.

Each testing facility has their own criteria for testing.  Many sites require a medical provider submit a written referral to the testing site.   Fax and/or phone numbers can be accessed via most testing sites’ websites.

It is important that you contact the test site location or your healthcare provider for instructions before traveling to the test site.

All testing is being done by clinical providers, clinics and in hospitals. If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should contact your primary care physician for guidance.

Q: What if I don’t have a doctor or have insurance?

If you do not have a doctor or if you do not have insurance, contact your nearest community health clinic. This website lists all of these clinics: www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center.

Please note that community clinics are not free healthcare providers. Check with the clinic to understand their billing policies as bill insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, commercial) and utilize a sliding fee discount for those who are uninsured.

Q: Who can be tested for COVID-19?

The Louisiana Department of Health recommends COVID-19 testing for any patient with fever, respiratory symptoms and a negative influenza test

Healthcare providers have been advised that testing is recommended for any patient with fever, respiratory symptoms and a negative influenza test.

Q: What do I do if I don’t have an established doctor or can’t get an appointment?

If you do not have a doctor or if you do not have insurance, contact your nearest community clinic. This website lists all of these clinics/health centers: www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center  

Q: I have symptoms. What should I do if I am not established with a doctor and no one I call appears to be taking new patients at this time?

If you do not yet have a primary care provider, you can call your local federally-qualified health center to make an appointment: You can find your nearest community health center here: https://www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center

If no community health centers are performing COVID-19 testing in your area, you can call your local emergency department to request testing. Please remember to call first before visiting your health care providers for COVID-19 symptoms.

Q: I have symptoms and I do not have insurance or money to go to a doctor…  Where do I seek medical care?

Federally-qualified health centers provide primary care, oral health, and mental health services on a sliding scale basis. Several of these community health centers are performing testing for COVID-19. You can find your nearest community health center here: https://www.lpca.net/main/for-patients/find-a-health-center

Please remember to call first before visiting your health care providers for COVID-19 symptoms.

Q:  Should I go to the ER?  Or, when should I go to the ER?

You should go to the ER if you are seriously ill (difficulty breathing, confusion, dehydrated). If you are sick with typical cold or flu symptoms, call your primary care doctor.  

Q: How long should I stay home if I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19    but do not qualify for testing?

If you are experiencing symptoms, you should call your healthcare provider for guidance. The same is true if you have no symptoms but are exposed to a known contact. 

Q:  When you hear “presumptive positive,” what does presumptive mean?

As of March, 14, the CDC has noted that Louisiana’s lab tests have proven to be reliable and confirmation of positive lab results is no longer needed Results will now be considered positive instead of presumptive positive.

“Presumptive positive” means that a test conducted by the State Lab has come back positive. The “presumptive” becomes “confirmed” only after the State’s test is confirmed by the CDC.

 

Q: If I need to get tested for COVID-19, how much will it cost?

The federal government has announced that all testing is free, including for the uninsured.

 

Q: What should I do if I have come in contact with someone who has tested positive?

You should self-isolate and limit your contact with other people. And, you should contact your primary care physician for guidance. If you develop a fever and a cough, you should contact your doctor.

 

Q:  What should I do if I am sick?

Call your doctor immediately if the following:

  • Think you have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Are over the age of 60 with symptoms
  • Have an underlying medical condition like heart, lung, or kidney disease
  • Develop a fever 
  • Develop symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty 
              breathing

Office of Public Health (OPH) recommends that you stay home and treat your symptoms as you would with the common cold if the following:

  • If you are under 60 and other otherwise healthy
  • Have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • Have not recently traveled to a country with a high rate of COVID-19

Q:  What should I do if I am caring for someone who is sick?

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, are over the age of 60, or have an underlying medical condition like heart, lung, or kidney disease, and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.

If you are young, otherwise healthy, and have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or recently traveled to a country with a high rate of COVID-19, stay home and treat your symptoms as you would with a common cold.

Q:  What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Isolation and quarantine are both public health practices that are being utilized to limit the spread of COVID-19. While they are often used interchangeably, they have very different meanings.

Isolation is a strategy used to separate people who are sick with a contagious illness from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of people who are ill to help stop the spread of certain diseases. People in isolation may be cared for in their homes, in hospitals, or in designated healthcare facilities.
 
Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of people who may have been exposed to a contagious illness, but do not have symptoms to see if they become sick. These individuals may or may not be contagious.

Q:  Does pre-existing respiratory illness qualify you for asymptomatic testing?

No. Currently, there is no testing for people not experiencing symptoms.

COVID-19 testing is based on recent travel to affected areas with combined respiratory illness symptoms, or exposure to a known case of COVID-19. Currently, there is no testing for asymptomatic people.

Q: Does getting routine childhood vaccines make children more susceptible to COVID-19?

Childhood vaccines are the best protection against illnesses. Studies have never found a connection between a vaccine for one disease increasing the likelihood for getting another illness.

Q: How do we explain the average citizen waiting 5-7 days or longer for test results while someone famous can get results in three days?

Tests run at commercial labs take longer to get back than tests run at the State Lab.  The State does not control the testing time for private labs.

Symptoms

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

For confirmed coronavirus infections, reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms (similar to the common cold) to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Q: How does COVID-19 compare to influenza in terms of symptoms, mortality rate, number of cases, etc.?

Based on what is known, COVID -19 is at least as severe, if not more serious than flu.   Much is unknown about COVID-19 about how easily it spreads, who most is at risk.

From preliminary studies, people who are most at-risk for a serious illness from COVID-19 are: People over age 60 who also have underlying medical conditions.

Q: Can you contract both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

It is possible to have both the coronavirus and the flu at the same time.

Q: Is vomiting a symptom of COVID-19?

A new study reports that some people who get the coronavirus will, in very rare instances, experience digestive symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. However, the primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Q: Is the loss of the ability to smell or pink eye symptoms of COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 are new, and we are still learning about the virus . For these symptoms and others, always contact your primary care physician for guidance.

Prevention

Q:  Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

No. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for this infection. People infected with COVID-19 receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

Q: When is someone considered to have recovered?

A person is considered recovered when it has been:

  • at least seven days after the onset of illness, and
  • at least three after resolution of fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications), and
  • Resolution or improvement in respiratory symptoms.

 

Q: What if someone at my work, school, church has illness symptoms like fever or cough?

Contacts should monitor their health. They should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Testing is recommended, but will be based on availability.

 

Q: What if someone at my work, school, church has been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

Exposed persons should self-isolate at home. Contacts should monitor their health. They should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Testing is recommended, but will be based on availability.

 

Q: What if someone at my work, school, church has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Exposed persons should self-isolate at home. Contacts should monitor their health. They should call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Testing is recommended, but will be based on availability.

 

Q: Do I need to notify someone if someone I know at work, church, school has signs of illness, is suspected of having COVID-19, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

No, healthcare providers and laboratories have the responsibility to report to Public Health

Q: Will the State be contacting every COVID-19 suspected or confirmed case?

Not any longer.  As more and more people have illness and are being diagnosed, Public Health will only be following up on people in high-risk disease settings. People suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 should follow the instructions on how to self-isolate to protect their family members.

Q:  How can I help protect myself and/or my family?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

There are simple everyday precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

Actions to help protect you and your family include: 

  • 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. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

    The best preparation families can do is practice good seasonal flu/cold hygiene: cover your cough, wash your hands (especially after being in public spaces, shaking hands), stay home if you are sick, and get your flu shot!

Q:  Should I keep my children home from school or avoid going to work?

You should follow guidance from your employer about closures.

On March 13, Gov. Edwards ordered the closure of all K-12 public schools statewide. This is effective Monday, March 16, through April 13.

For the most up-to-date information about schools and education-specific questions, the Department of Education has established a special email address: [email protected] 

 

Q: What is social distancing and how does it work?

Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming into close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. 

Recommended distancing is 6 feet.

Social distancing slows the outbreak to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to reduce the burden on our health care system and workers.

If we do this right, we can reduce the number of people with disease and reduce the number of people needing hospitalization and ventilators at any one time.  

 

Q:  Is there special guidance for people who are deaf or blind?

  • If you are not feeling well, stay home. Do not put yourself or support service providers at risk.
  • Touch support service provider only on shoulder or elbow for guiding techniques.  Avoid touching support service provider hands or face aside from communicating.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Wash hands immediately after communication interaction.
  • Let your support service provider know if you need to sneeze/cough so they can put distance between you.
  • Carry and use hand sanitizer in between as needed.
  • Allow your support service provider to sit/stand on your side of you as much as is comfortable instead of face to face to limit contact of skin and/or bodily fluids.
  • Attempt to stand as far apart from your support service provider as is comfortable
  • Important: Patients who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek emergency care immediately.  Use Video Relay Services, or ask family/friends to contact them for you. If necessary, contact the Interpreting/SSP office for assistance.

 

Q: Are we most concerned about older, high risk people, not young, healthy folks?

While those who are older and those who have underlying chronic medical conditions – meaning lung disease, heart disease and diabetes – are at the greatest risk, everyone, including people who are young and healthy, can be exposed to and spread COVID-19 to others.

 

Q:  Should I cancel my travel plans?

If you have a trip planned, check the CDC’s site for a risk assessment of your destination.

If you travel, take the same precautions you would while home to avoid getting sick or spreading germs including washing your hands thoroughly and often and avoiding contact with sick people.

 

Q: Is it OK to use laundry facilities?

Yes. Just be sure to take basic precautions including:

  • Don’t enter a laundry if there are more than 10 other customers.
  • Use disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces such as folding tables, chairs and the handles on the machines

 

Q: Is standard laundry detergent enough to disinfect clothing and prevent spread of the virus?

Yes. You can launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard the gloves after each use.

 

Q: Should I or my family wear a protective mask?

It is not recommended that most people wear protective masks. This is because most people fiddle with and touch their masks, limiting any protective benefit.  Masks are recommended for healthcare providers.

If someone is sick, a mask will limit the spread of the virus by the sick individual. Therefore, the general public is not recommended to use masks at this point, given they don’t work well, and they need to be used by healthcare personnel treating those with COVID-19.

Q: I see people in my neighborhood out running, riding bikes and walking their dogs. Is that OK?

Yes, that’s OK. Just be sure to maintain distance from other people. The CDC recommends a distance of about 6 feet. Even in communities where residents are being asked to stay home and “shelter in place,” it’s still fine to go for a run, hike or do other outdoor activities, as long as proper social distancing is observed.

Q: Coronavirus is noted on Lysol bottles. Why is COVID-19 categorized as new if listed on old Lysol bottles? Should the public expect any new commercially available disinfectant products to address COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, and they are not new.

There were six existing strains of coronavirus before 2019, some of which cause the common cold. The latest strain, however, is nCoV-2019 (COVID-19) which originated in 2019.

Lysol bottles are not referencing the latest COVID-19, but instead the coronaviruses that cause the common cold. There is no reason to believe, though, that Lysol is not effective for COVID-19, so please use it!

 

Q: What can people do if they know others who have been diagnosed presumptive positive and they are not taking COVID-19 seriously and possibly spreading it to people? How can they report them?

You should practice social distancing and avoid people who are or who may have a COVID-19 infection.

 

Q: How can someone report about crowds gathering / folks not obeying by the public gathering laws put out by the governor?

You don’t need to report others. Be sure to take your own precautions by washing your hands, covering your cough and limiting your exposure by avoiding crowds and gatherings of more than 50 people.

 

Q: If I work in an “essential” business that is still open, but I’ve possibly been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should I still go to work?

Yes. Some personnel that fill essential infrastructure roles within communities are permitted to continue work following potential exposure, provided they remain asymptomatic. Following an exposure, personnel should self-monitor taking their temperature before each work shift to ensure they remain fever-free, and assess their symptoms prior to their starting work.

Transmission

Q:  How does COVID-19 spread?

Health experts are still learning the details about how this new coronavirus spreads.

Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets produced when coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes

 

Q:  If a person tested positive for COVID-19 can they be re-infected? 

There is evidence to suggest that some people have contracted the virus a second time. This means that all people – even those who have already had the illness – should remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions.

 

Q: Can pets get COVID-19?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not considered a threat to dogs and cats, and pets do not play a role in transmission of the virus to people.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. It is rare for an animal to infect people and then spread between people such as with recent outbreaks of MERS and SARS.  

 

Q: Do mosquitoes carry CORVID-19/Can the virus be transmitted through mosquitoes?

No. COVID-19 is not transmitted by mosquitoes.

 

Q:  How long can the virus stay on leather/cloth surfaces?

Studies suggest that coronavirus can survive on metal for up to five days on glass for four to five days, and plastic for up to nine days, according to a recent study by the Journal of Hospital Infection. The same studies show coronavirus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard.

It is not clear yet, but the virus may have a shorter lifespan on fabrics than on hard surfaces.

 

Q: Is it safe to receive a package from an area where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

 

Q: How long can the virus live on food from restaurants?
The coronavirus can be spread in a public restaurant as it can be spread in any public space. If you’re about to eat, wash your hands. Wash your hands after using the restroom. If you’re concerned about the cleanliness of your table, ask the server to wipe it down for you. 

Remember that COVID-19 is spread from person to person. If there is an infected person in that space then both person-to-person transmission can occur as well as transmission from a contaminated surface if someone touches it and then touches their face.

 

Q: Should I wipe down things purchased from stores? How long can the virus live on hard surfaces?

Studies suggest that coronavirus can survive on metal for up to five days on glass for four to five days, and plastic for up to nine days, according to a recent study by the Journal of Hospital Infection. The same studies show coronavirus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard.

It is not clear yet, but the virus may have a shorter lifespan on fabrics than on hard surfaces.

 

Q: What are the best items to use to clean surfaces and protect from COVID-19?

COVID-19 does not require any unique cleaning chemicals to disinfect surfaces. Soap and water works, and you can use an alcohol-based wipe. Baby wipes may not be effective.

 

Q: Am I at risk if I go to a funeral or visitation service for someone who died of COVID-19?

There is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-19.

The Louisiana Department of Health has posted additional guidance about funerals and the proper handling of decedents who have had COVID-19 at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus. Just click on Guidance & Resources.

Health Effects and Complications

Q:  What are severe complications from this virus?

Severe complications include pneumonia in both lungs.

Q:  Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19?

Those who are most at risk are people over age 60 AND who have severe chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung, kidney disease or diabetes.

Other people who are not age 60, but who have these same medical conditions also face a higher risk than the general population.

Q:  What about women who are pregnant?

There is limited data on the effect of COVID-19 on pregnant mothers and their infants. Overall, there does not appear to be an increased risk of severe disease for pregnant women. However, because pregnant women are immunocompromised, they should be considered in the at-risk population.

Social distancing should be practiced. This means visitors will need to be limited during labor and delivery. We are encouraging hospitals to prepare patients for this ahead of admission.

 

Q:  What is the risk to children?

Although infections in children have been reported, there is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19 or at greater risk of a serious illness. More information is being gathered to determine more about this outbreak.

 

Q: Are people diagnosed with HIV+ also at higher risk for contracting COVID-19?

People with compromised immune systems, including cancer patients and people with HIV/AIDS, are at a higher risk from the coronavirus.

 

Q:  What precautions are nursing homes and assisted living facilities taking?

Nursing homes, assisted living centers and other similar healthcare facilities have the authority to restrict entry to people, including family members and friends of residents, during this health crisis.

People are advised to contact individual facilities for restrictions and recommendations that have been put in place at that location.

 

Q: How can a loved one be removed from a nursing home?

Talk to the administrator and Director of Nursing at the facility where your loved one lives.

 

Q: Does the state’s restricted visitors policy mean no visitors can enter a health care facility?

No. Health care facilities can allow visitors at their discretion, in consultation with families and responsible parties. This order also doesn’t apply to situations involving end-of-life care. However, no one who meets the definition of a “restricted person” can be allowed in a healthcare facility.

Workforce Related Questions

Q: How should employees communicate with other employees that they may have been exposed because of another employee without violating HIPPA?

Any person can self-report their own health status. However, people should refrain from discussing the health status of others. Medical professionals cannot discuss another person’s health status without being in violation of privacy laws.

 

Q: How long should an employer tell an employee to stay isolated if other employees in the workplace have COVID-19 symptoms?

There are different rules/laws for private and public employers. In state government, an employee may be placed on sick leave and be required to stay home if he/she has symptoms associated with COVID-19. In the private sector, the employee should follow the directive of their employer.

 

Q: What do I do if my employer demands I get tested for COVID-19 if I was sick?

There are different rules/laws for private and public employers. In state government, an employee may be placed on sick leave and be required to stay home if he/she is ill for any reason. In the private sector, the employee should follow the directive of their employer.

 

Q: Can my employer force me to keep working at the facility where there are more than 50 employees at one time, unless I have a doctor’s note?

Gov. Edwards issued a stay-at-home order on March 22. This order is in place until April 12. It directs people not to go to work unless that business provides essential services. Employers are to provide guidance to their employees as to how the order applies to their operations. For businesses that provide essential services, they should ensure that social distancing and hygiene guidance is being followed. Groups are limited to no more than 10 people. Employees should also follow the directives of their employer.

 

Q:  What is the guidance for restaurant employees?

Restaurants will not be allowed to have patrons eat on-site. They will be limited to drive-thru, pick-up and delivery orders only.

Restaurants must follow these directives:

Employees who are sick with a fever or respiratory symptoms should not go to work, nor work the drive-through window.

For all other employees:

    • Wash hands frequently.
    • Do not touch customers’ hands when passing food or drinks.
    • Use gloves for contact with money or credit cards. Gloves must be replaced between each customer interaction. If gloves are not available, then hand sanitizer between each customer interaction is acceptable.
    • Clean all frequently touched items, including keypads/touch screens at least hourly.
    • Wear gloves to handle money when clearing the register/cash drawer.

This is in effect until April 13, unless extended at a later date.

 

Q: What precautions should businesses take that remain open in order to provide essential services?

Businesses such as these that remain open should follow these guidelines:

  • Delay or postpone any non-essential appointments.
  • Upon confirmation of the appointment, ask the client if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms, and if so, have them postpone.
  • Employees who are sick with a fever or respiratory symptoms should not go to work.
  • Employees should wash hands frequently.
  • Use gloves for contact with money or credit cards. Gloves must be replaced between each customer interaction. If gloves are not available, then use hand sanitizer between each customer interaction.
  • Clean all frequently touched surfaces between each use.

 

Q: What is the guidance for medical employees that have been exposed to COVID-19?

If this employee is critical to the medical care, response to COVID-19, or assistance with daily living, they can continue to work but they need to wear a mask at work, and monitor their health with 2x daily temperature checks.  If they feel ill (fever >100.4 and/or respiratory symptoms), they need to immediately leave work and self-isolate. They need to call their healthcare provider to possibly be tested.

If this person is not part of the direct response to COVID-19, then they should go home, self-isolate, and monitor their symptoms, and call their healthcare provider to possibly be tested.

 

Q: What is the guidance for employees with suspect or confirmed COVID-19?

Please use the following updated symptom-based strategy to return to normal activity following a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19: 

Continue isolation until:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

 

Q: Does the restriction of gatherings of 10+ apply to “corporate” companies with open offices (no walls) with people working closer than 6 ft from one another?

People should try and stay 6 feet from each other to reduce spread.

Q: Can funeral services be held for someone who died of COVID-19?

A funeral or visitation service can be held for a person who has died of COVID-19. Funeral home workers should follow their routine infection prevention and control precautions when handling a decedent who died of COVID-19.

The Louisiana Department of Health has posted additional guidance about funerals and the proper handling of decedents who have had COVID-19 at www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus. Just click on Guidance & Resources.

 

Q:  How do I file for an unemployment claim?

Visit www.louisianaworks.net/hire or call the Claim Center at 1- 866-783-5567

 

Q: If I work in a business that has been designated as “essential” and I have possibly been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should I still go to work?

Some businesses have been designated as essential per the Governor’s order and remain open. These include healthcare, emergency response and other businesses that provide vital infrastructure roles within communities. Employees of these businesses should contact their employer for guidance.  However, an individual is permitted to continue work following potential exposure, provided they do not have symptoms. In these instances, someone who has been exposed should self-monitor by taking their temperature before each work shift to ensure they remain fever-free before starting work.

Q: What is the updated guidance to private early learning centers? 

The Louisiana Dept. of Education provides COVID-19 FAQs for EArly Childhood Providers at this link: COVID-19 FAQ for Early Childhood Providers

Given the risk for transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 in group or congregate settings, centers must follow the below guidance in order to remain in operation:

  • Strongly encourage all children that can stay home to do so;
  • Early learning center and daycare services should prioritize support for health care workers and essential workers;
  • Children and staff group sizes should be limited to 10 or less and group sizes for infants should be limited to 5 or less;
  • Outdoor groups should be separated from each other, and also follow the <10 staff/children guidance;
  • Practice frequent environmental cleaning (cleaning high touch surfaces hourly) and wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Alcohol based sanitizers are appropriate when soap and water are not readily available;
  • Actively monitor children and staff for any symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat throughout the day. Any child with these symptoms should not participate in these programs for the duration of the illness. Only well children should attend; and
  • Staff members in high-risk (elderly, those with medical conditions) should be encouraged to stay home.

 

Resources 

Q: Where can I get the most up-to-date information?

Go to the Department of Health’s website: www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus

For information on the Shelter in Place order, visit www.gov.la.gov 

For information about schools, contact the Department of Education at this email address: [email protected] 

Pandemic info: The White House Task Force has established www.coronavirus.gov  as the centralized website for the federal government. The CDC continues to maintain www.cdc.gov/covid19 site.

Q: How to apply for Medicaid?

Local Medicaid offices are currently closed to the public. 

If you think you qualify for Medicaid, you can apply for Medicaid online at www.MyMedicaid.la.gov    

Applications can also be processed by phone or mail.

      • Phone: 1-888-342-6207
      • By Mail: Louisiana Medicaid
        P.O. Box 91283
        Baton Rouge, LA 70821

 

Q: Are there any state information and resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19?

Yes. There are informational resources for business posted on this website: ldh.la.gov/coronavirus

On March 19th, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that small businesses in all 64 Louisiana parishes will have access to federal Small Business Administration disaster aid in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. 

To get started immediately, visit SBA.gov/Disaster. SBA offers a three-step process for disaster loans explained here

Louisiana Economic Development also is offering COVID-19: Business Resources, an online guide to assistance available for impacted businesses. Look for updates to the guide at OpportunityLouisiana.com.

 

Q: Are counseling services available to the public?

Counseling services are now available at the Keeping Calm during Covid Phone Line

Call 1-866-310-7977 | Available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. All calls confidential.

Counselors provide information and service coordination with linkage to mental health and substance use counseling services. 

 

 Q: Can I apply for SNAP food benefits for this emergency?

At this time, there is no option for emergency/disaster SNAP. 

However, if you are not already a SNAP recipient and have a food need, you can apply for benefits online. There’s no need to visit a DCFS office. You can apply online or by mail/fax. For more information, text GETSNAP (no spaces) to 898-211, visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP, email [email protected] or call 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Q: Can I still receive WIC benefits? Is WIC still open for enrollment?

Most WIC clinics are open and some are operating in drive-thru fashion. They are collecting information via phone then a staff member will come to your vehicle.  Be sure to have your ID, WIC EBT card, and any other needed documents.  

Call your clinic or 1-800-251-2229 if you have any questions. 

Q:  Is WIC issuing new cards? 

If WIC participants already have a card, they should keep that card. If someone is newly applying to WIC, they will be issued a card. WIC is not issuing disaster cards.

 

Q:  How do I file for an unemployment claim?

Visit www.louisianaworks.net/hire or call the Claim Center at 1- 866-783-5567

 

Q:  Do you encourage blood donations at this time?

Yes, click www.aabb.org to search for local blood donation clinics.

 

Q:  What is the LDH guidance for medical providers to request PPEs?

A link to guidance can be found at the top of the LDH Coronavirus webpage.

Here is the link for medical providers:

http://ldh.la.gov/assets/oph/Coronavirus/resources/providers/PPEforweb.pdf

 

Q: Is child care assistance available to families ?

Beginning March 23, families can access subsidized care for children age 12 and under through the Louisiana Department of Education’s Child Care Assistance Program, CCAP. The program assures affordable access to childcare at licensed childcare centers participating in the program. 

The program is available to families with caregivers who are considered essential personnel in the COVID-19 response effort. Go to www.louisianabelieves.com to complete an application.

 

Q: How can I get more information about the federal economic relief package that was just passed?

Information has not yet been provided to state officials. They are trying to learn more about the package, what it means for Louisiana residents, and when and how the funds will be made available. Information will be provided as soon as it is known.

 

Restaurants  

Q: Have restaurants, casinos and other places been closed?

Gov. Edwards has taken aggressive measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana including the closing of casinos, bars and movie theaters and limiting restaurants to delivery, take out and drive-through orders only.

This is in effect until April 13, unless extended at a later date.

The coronavirus can be spread in a public restaurant as it can be spread in any public space. Whenever eating food, wash your hands and make sure you are eating in clean surroundings.

 

Information about the Governor’s Stay At Home Order:

All information about the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, can be found on the Governor’s website www.gov.la.gov    

Q: What are current state-led mitigation measures?

Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide Stay at Home order that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday, March 23, to further fight the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, as the number of confirmed cases have topped 800 and spread to more than half of our parishes. The order is set to expire at the end of the night on Sunday, April 12

Click here to read the Governor’s statewide Stay at Home order.  For more information and to find out if your business has limits with this order, please visit www.gov.la.gov 

The Governor previously ordered all K-12 public schools, casinos, bars, movie theatres, gyms and fitness centers closed and restricted restaurants to take-out, drive-through and delivery orders only. He has also moved the state’s April 4 elections and limited crowd size.

YOU CAN:

  • Go to the grocery, convenience store or warehouse store
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications or healthcare necessities 
  • Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor/provider first)
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru
  • Care for or support a friend or family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, job and be in nature for exercise — just keep 6 feet between you and others
  • Walk you pets and take them to the vet if necessary
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies
  • Receive deliveries from any business which delivers

YOU SHOULD NOT:

  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as provided by the facility websites.

 

Q: What is the difference between “Stay at Home” and “social distancing”?

Stay at home is a stricter form of social distancing. 

Stay at home means: 

  • Stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others)
  • Only go out for essential services
  • Stay 6 feet or more away from others
  • Don’t gather in groups

Q: What is a Stay at Home order?

A Stay at Home order is the Governor directing people to avoid going out in public unless it is absolutely necessary.

 

Q: Why is this Stay at Home order necessary?

Right now, COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout our state and some of our communities and, without taking additional measures, Louisiana’s health care system will have more sick people than it can care for. The state is working to increase its health care capacity, but people also need to take measures to prevent the spread of this illness. Our medical community is working overtime to take care of people who are sick, but it needs help from the public to keep even more people from needing care.

 

Q: When is it okay for me to leave my home?

People can leave their homes to do things like buy groceries or food, pick up medicine or go to work if their job is essential. If you have to go out, make sure you practice social distancing measures and keep 6 feet between you and the people around you. Also: people are encouraged to go outside and to stay active during this time, as long as they practice social distancing when they are around their neighbors.

 

Q:  What if I need to get tested for coronavirus or to go to the doctor?

People can leave their homes for medical treatment or to get testing, but they should call their health care provider or doctor before doing so for advice. Your doctor may be able to help you via telemedicine or decide if you need to be tested by asking you questions on the phone. Do not show up to a testing site without consulting a medical professional first, because you may need a doctor’s order to qualify for a test. Unless it is an emergency, do not go to a healthcare facility without calling first, because you may put yourself at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

 

Q: What businesses and jobs are considered essential?

Health care workers, public safety employees, some government workers, staff of grocery stores and restaurants and employees of some business are generally considered essential workers. Businesses like manufacturers and utilities have to continue operations to support our communities.

In general, the state of Louisiana follows guidance from the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) about what infrastructure and businesses are “critical” during the COVID-19 outbreak. For more detailed information from CISA, visit this site: https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19

 

Q: How will this order be enforced?

The state is working with local law enforcement to support the order. There have been rumors about military control or martial law being declared. These rumors are false.

 

Q: Why is this order statewide? There are not a lot of cases confirmed in my area.

COVID-19 is rapidly spreading throughout the state and we know that some people do not show symptoms for 14 days, even if they are sick. Just because no one has tested positive in your community doesn’t mean that no one is sick. By enacting this Stay at Home order statewide, Gov. Edwards is working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

 

Q: Is the Governor closing Louisiana’s borders and declaring martial law?

No. This is a rumor and is not based in fact. Members of Louisiana’s National Guard are deployed in Louisiana to help support local testing sites, so you may see members of the military in your community. Martial law has not been declared. Louisiana’s borders are not closed.

Q: When is the Stay at Home order going to be lifted?

The Stay at Home order is in place until the morning of Monday, April 13, which is when schools are scheduled to re-open. Governor Edwards will re-evaluate the order before it expires to make sure that it doesn’t need to be restricted.

 

Q: Where can people get more information about what the State of Louisiana is doing in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak?

The Governor’s office is constantly updating its website at gov.louisiana.gov, as is the Louisiana Department of Health at ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus. You can also call 211 for general information about COVID-19 and to get connected to help and resources

COVID-19 in Louisiana

Q: Are there any confirmed cases in Louisiana?

Check the Louisiana Department of Health’s website for the most up-to-date information: www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus   The website is updated twice daily, at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. To date, most cases have been clustered in the New Orleans area.

  

Q: How can I access assistance from the economic relief package?

As the State receives guidance, that information will be provided to the public from the Governor and other state officials. The current guidance … if you have lost your job because of the coronavirus outbreak, you can fill a claim online with the Louisiana Workforce Commission at www.laworks.net.

 

Q: Of the people who have tested positive so far in Louisiana, how many have needed hospitalization? 

The vast majority of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Louisiana have been hospitalized. This is because, with our limited testing ability, we were only testing the most seriously ill people. Now that testing has expanded, both through the State and through commercial laboratories, we can begin determining the number of non-hospitalized people with COVID-19.

 

Q: Are all healthcare facilities prohibited from providing medical and surgical procedures?

The order from the State Health Officer directs all licensed healthcare facilities in Louisiana to postpone all medical and surgical procedures. They were not ordered to close.

Instead, they are instructed to postpone non-essential treatment and procedures for 30 days, from March 19, 2020 through April 21, 2020.  Many offices will remain open to conduct these services and procedures. The decision as to which procedures are “essential” are up to the practitioner to decide.

  • What about outpatient therapy group sessions? 

Small group sessions (10 people or less) are allowed but social distancing practices and strict hygiene and cleaning requirements must be in place.  

Group members should check for signs and symptoms (fever, cough) before participating in the session, and those with fever or respiratory symptoms should not attend.

  • Does dispensing eyeglasses/contact lenses to patients count as a medical procedure?  Yes, this is considered a medical procedure.

Q:  What is the LDH guidance for medical providers to request PPEs?

A link to guidance can be found at the top of the LDH Coronavirus webpage.

Here is the link for medical providers:

http://ldh.la.gov/assets/oph/Coronavirus/resources/providers/PPEforweb.pdf

Q: I understand that some hospitals are not complying with orders to postpone elective procedures. Why?

People still have urgent medical needs that require an elective procedure and cannot be postponed. The decision whether a procedure can be postponed is at the discretion of the clinician.

Q:  Have public schools been closed?

Yes, on March 13, Gov. Edwards ordered the closure of all K-12 public schools statewide. This is effective Monday, March 16, through April 13.

For the most up-to-date information about schools and education-specific questions, the Department of Education has established this email address: [email protected].

 Q: Are places like Wal-Mart and grocery stores going to stay open?

No, grocery stores can remain open to the public.  We do recommend that you do not congregate closely with other shoppers, and use a sanitizing wipe on your cart.

 

Q: What about childcare centers and preschools?

Daycares and early learning centers run by private entities can remain open unless otherwise informed as the situation progresses. However, daycare programs should encourage children who can stay home to do so, children and staff should wash their hands frequently and they should limit child grouping.

Q: Can children still get school meals?

Yes, according to the Governor’s order. It requires schools to use appropriate social distancing measures, and continue to provide meals or other essential services with applicable staff. You should contact your child’s school for specific instructions.

 

Q: How can I pick up meals from my child’s school? Does the child need to be present for the parent to pick up the meal(s)

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has published a parish-by-parish list of school meal sites to let families know where, when and how free food can be accessed.

The list is available on the Dept. Of Education’s website: www.louisianabelieves.com  

For the most up-to-date information about schools and how school meal sites logistics work, please contact your child’s school district.

 

Q: Can I apply for Disaster SNAP food benefits for this emergency?

At this time, there is no option for emergency/disaster SNAP. 

However, if you are not already a SNAP recipient and have a food need, you can apply for benefits online. There’s no need to visit a DCFS office. You can apply online or by mail/fax. For more information, text GETSNAP (no spaces) to 898-211, visit the DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP, email [email protected] or call 1-888-LA-HELP-U (1-888-524-3578) Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Q: I’m quarantined and/or staying home as advised by officials. Do I have to go into an office to apply for SNAP?

No, you don’t have to visit a DCFS office to apply for SNAP.  You can apply online or by downloading a paper application and then mailing or faxing it to us. You can also request an application by contacting DCFS at [email protected] or 1-888-LAHelpU (1-888-524-3578) toll free. For instructions on how to apply, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP.  DCFS will continue to add information at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP as the situation develops.  You can also text GETSNAP to 898211 for quick links and helpful info on SNAP.

 

Q: Officials have declared an emergency. Does that mean we’re going to get emergency benefits?

No emergency benefits have been authorized by the federal government at this time. If there are new options available, the Department of Children and Family Services will make announcements on their Facebook page and at www.DCFS.la.gov.  If you are not already a SNAP recipient, you can apply for SNAP online. More information can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/getSNAP.

 

Q: What is the current COVID-19 situation in Louisiana?

According to the CDC, Louisiana and the entire country is experiencing a historic and unprecedented outbreak. The number of cases of COVID-19 being reported in the U.S. and Louisiana continues to increase quickly.

  • With increasing laboratory testing and reporting, CDC expects to see a rise in cases.
  • This growing number of cases also reflects a rapid spread of disease across communities.
  • While these numbers are concerning, it’s not unexpected and the more robust information will allow us to better understand and track the size and scope of the outbreak and strengthen prevention and response efforts.

The Department of Health is providing guidance to doctors for testing and treatment of COVID-19, as well as guidance for home care of patients with coronavirus. This guidance is given to all health care providers via our Health Alert Network.

Additionally, the Louisiana Office of Public Health has activated its Emergency Operations Center and launched public health measures to respond. This is the same strategy being done at the national level under the guidance of the CDC, and in all other states and the District of Columbia.

 

Q: What is Louisiana’s testing capability?

Louisiana has a testing capability of several hundred patients. This number changes constantly as test kits are used up and more arrive. The Office of Public Health has ordered additional testing kits from the CDC and has been pleased that they arrived in a timely fashion.  

Commercial testing is now also available, and any positive private lab tests that come back positive will be verified at the OPH lab in Baton Rouge and confirmed by the CDC lab in Atlanta. 

Q: Do immigrants have access to testing regardless of identification?

The testing criteria for COVID-19 do not require showing official government identification. Everyone, including documented and undocumented immigrants, who is experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should contact their primary care physician for guidance to see if they fit the clinical criteria for testing.

 

Q: What is the number of tests being for COVID-19 in Louisiana?  What percentage have been positive?

For the most up-to-date information about cases in Louisiana, please go to the COVID-19 website: www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus

Q: What are the appropriate swab kits to use for COVID19 testing?

Medical providers can use any available Viral Transport Media (VTM) or Universal Transport Media (UTM) available to them, making sure to follow instructions on the testing materials and ensuring the vial is completely closed and sealed.

Q: How does the process for testing in Louisiana for COVID-19 work?

The Office of Public Health operates a laboratory in Baton Rouge that performs many types of tests for infectious diseases, such as for tuberculosis and measles. State lab workers are a team of highly trained professionals who are experienced at testing for many kinds of infectious diseases using a variety of different tests.

 

Q: Is the Louisiana Department of Health concerned about shipping channels such as the Port of New Orleans being affected by COVID-19?

Department officials met with the Coast Guard to discuss potential issues with the COVID-19 virus once it became clearer that the virus was spreading globally. We don’t think there will be potential for spreading the virus through shipping channels.

 

Q: Will the State identify COVID-19 patients?

No. Because of patient privacy laws, the Louisiana Department of Health cannot provide any information that might identify patients. This includes name, residence of patient or any other potentially identifying patient information.

 

Q: What precautions is the State taking to protect our students and school system staff and parent volunteers from possible exposure to the COVID-19?

The Louisiana Office of Public Health (OPH) has been in contact with the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) in regard to disease control and prevention of COVID-19.

For the most up-to-date information about schools and education-specific questions, the Department of Education has established this email address: [email protected]

OPH has provided guidance from the CDC on infection control best practices such as handwashing, covering of coughs, disinfection of environmental surfaces, and encouraging students and staff to stay home when they are ill.

Further guidance has been shared on social distancing, cancellation of classes and school events, as well as discouraging social gatherings among students in the event that there is community (person-to-person) transmission of the disease.

 

Q: Do hospitals have policies in place to keep inpatients who have been tested for COVID-19 and whose tests are pending from having visitors in their rooms?

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are restricting non-essential personnel from visiting people in their facilities. Patients under investigation (awaiting testing) should not have visitors, and healthcare personnel should be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

 

Q:  What precautions are nursing homes and assisted living facilities taking?

On March 12, the Louisiana Department of Health started requiring all licensed healthcare facilities in the state to restrict visitors to those deemed essential, vital or necessary to the care and well-being of patients, clients and residents. This prohibition will last for the next 30 days, ending on April 10, 2020 unless otherwise extended by the Department.

Nursing homes, assisted living centers and other similar healthcare facilities have the authority to restrict entry to people, including family members and friends of residents, during this health crisis.

 

Q: What’s the next major step in the Department’s plan for responding to an outbreak?

Mirroring the federal government’s response, LDH is focused on a a ‘mitigation’ approach anticipating and planning for person-to-person transmission. We are focused on state and local government preparedness and are providing support to health care providers, schools, businesses and community members to ensure they are adequately prepared to take action to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We don’t want people to be alarmed, but we do want them to be prepared. We also want businesses and health care facilities to be prepared to make sure people are safe and protected so we can avoid an unnecessary spread.

Q: Is the State testing patients who are in jail?

Patients who are suspected to have COVID-19 and who reside in a correctional facility or in a long term care facility are appropriate for testing by the State lab.

Q: Are quarantines being planned?

LDH does not expect to use its legal authority to quarantine for this particular infection.  LDH has extensive quarantine plans stemming from prior health events such as H1N1 and Ebola.

Federal Links and Info

Q: How can I get more information about the federal economic relief package that was just passed?

Information has not yet been provided to state officials. They are trying to learn more about the package, what it means for Louisiana residents, and when and how the funds will be made available. Information will be provided as soon as it is known.

Q: How can I get the most up-to-date information about the pandemic?

The White House Task Force has established www.coronavirus.gov  as the centralized website for the federal government. The CDC continues to maintain www.cdc.gov/covid19 site.

Q: Has the IRS extended the filing deadline for federal taxes?

Yes. The Trump administration announced on March 20 that it is moving tax day from April 15 to July 15, giving Americans an extra three months to file their taxes amid the disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

 

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Q: What should I do if I have recently traveled?

If you were recently in a country with a COVID-19 outbreak, you should self-isolate for 14 days after your return. If you do not experience any sickness (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) after 14 days, you may resume your regular activities and use the same usual precautions to prevent spread of viruses like the flu (wash hands frequently, cough /sneeze into your elbow, disinfect surfaces).

 

Q:  What if I feel sick within 14 days after returning to the U.S.?

  • Seek medical advice – Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel on public transportation while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

 

Q: I am a recent traveler from Italy. Can I request a COVID-19 test from my provider for peace of mind? I am willing to pay any applicable cost.

COVID-19 testing is only currently available to sick people due to a limited number of tests available. You should monitor your health for 14-days following your return from travel. If you do become ill in the 14-days (especially with fever and cough), stay home and call your doctor. Your doctor can assist with the necessary steps to determine if testing would be appropriate for you. At this time, there is no test for well people who just want to know if they have been exposed.

 

Q: I am a recent traveler from Italy and experiencing flu like symptoms. I reported this to my healthcare provider at a recent visit and no testing was offered. What should I do next?

Healthcare providers work with the Office of Public Health to determine if a patient should be tested for COVID-19. It is possible that a flu test was done (and was positive), which would be responsible for the symptoms (and be the reason for no COVID-19 testing). If you continue to have concerns or if your symptoms worsen, please contact your healthcare provider.

 

Q: Will workers who travel out of state be allowed to come home if the state is quarantined?

The State of Louisiana has not been quarantined.

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