March 13, 2020

Mayo Clinic working to mitigate impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic

By Susan Murphy

By Mayo Clinic News Network

In response to the progression of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Mayo Clinic is committed to helping you stay informed. Here are some of the ways our researchers, physicians and staff are working relentlessly to mitigate the impacts of this pandemic, and steps you and your family can take to stay healthy.

Mayo Clinic develops test to detect COVID-19

Mayo Clinic has developed a test that can detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in clinical samples. The SARS-CoV virus causes COVID-19. The test has been fully validated, and data will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for review and emergency use authorization.

"This is an issue the whole world is grappling with, so we felt like this was our moral obligation to offer testing to as many people as we can," says Dr. Matthew Binnicker, a clinical microbiologist and director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic. Read more.

Mayo Clinic offers pre-screened patients drive-through specimen collection for COVID-19 testing

Mayo Clinic is conducting a drive-through process in Rochester to collect COVID-19 specimens for testing. Transmission of the coronavirus is increasing nationwide, and other institutions have successfully used the drive-through approach.

Patients who meet criteria for testing are directed to the location. Mayo Clinic staff collect the specimens, using appropriate precautions, and send them to the Minnesota Department of Health for analysis. This process reduces the need for other critically constrained resources. Read more.

COVID-19: Why social distancing, having a personal plan is important

You may be hearing the term "social distancing" in relation to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. "In terms of social distancing, it’s important to understand how this virus is transmitted," says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic. "It’s transmitted through respiratory droplets generated when someone infected coughs or sneezes. We know that these droplets extend about 3 to 6 feet from the person that generates them. If you breathe in the droplets, or they land on your eyes, nose, or mouth then you are at risk of getting infected."

"This is where the concept of social distancing comes in. If we stay away from someone who is sick, or in general, beyond that 6 foot margin, then the risk of being exposed drops dramatically. Read more.

Is worry about COVID-19 disrupting your life?

The World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic. The constant flow of news from all types of media may heighten fears about the disease. People need facts to protect themselves from contracting the infection, but information overload can spur excessive worry. Dr. Sheila Jowsey-Gregoire, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist, says anxiety can build when people feel that a situation is out of their control, and when rumors spread.

"Many unique situations are going to arise that need to be considered on a case-by-case basis," says Dr. Jowsey-Gregoire.  "Using problem-solving and flexibility as key coping strategies, rather than relying on emotional coping ⏤ anger and despair ⏤ will help you feel, and be, in control." Read more.

COVID-19: What a Mayo Clinic expert says you need to know about the coronavirus

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your local health care provider or hospital, and ask how best to be evaluated. Do not go to your health care provider or hospital without calling first. Read more.

Your questions answered

How does the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 enter the body?

"COVID-19 disease is spread through respiratory droplets. So what that means is that if someone with the infection coughs or sneezes, they generate droplets. These are generally large droplets so they can spread about 3-6 feet from the person that generates them. That's pretty close contact that's required. If those droplets land on a surface and you touch that surface and  then you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, then you are at risk of becoming infected as well," says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist.

Aside from washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, what other ways can we protect ourselves from COVID-19?

  • Stay on top of travel restrictions and use other protective measures provided by the CDC.
  • Avoid touching mouth, eyes and nose.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, stay in your home and contact a healthcare provider who can advise you.
  • Disinfect high-touch areas regularly.
  • Avoid contact with people exhibiting these symptoms

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?

"Based on the information we have now about COVID-19, we suspect the longer end of the incubation period is about 14 days. So that's the duration that has been used for the quarantines that have been put in place in multiple areas," says Nipunie S. Rajapakse, M.D., M.P.H., a Mayo Clinic Infectious Disease specialist.

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Tags: covid-19, Research, Uncategorized

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