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Coronavirus Q&A: What San Antonio needs to know to stay safe

Here's what you can do now to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect yourself from catching the disease.

SAN ANTONIO — KENS 5 is reporting on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with facts, not fear. This guide will answer some of the most common local questions about coronavirus with answers from San Antonio Metro Health officials (updated as of April 25):

How do people become infected with coronavirus?

Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) most commonly spreads from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

As of April 25, the CDC has updated the list of symptoms related to the coronavirus. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

The symptoms are similar to the flu. The CDC believes that coronavirus symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

People should seek medical attention when they develop emergency warning signs, including trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face.

The CDC says this list is not all-inclusive, and you should consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Credit: TEGNA

Who is at a higher risk?

According to the CDC, current knowledge of coronavirus has shown that older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease, are at a higher risk of getting very sick from this virus.

How can I avoid getting coronavirus?

The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. The CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  1. 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.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Stay home when you are sick.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What is social distancing? How can it help?

People should maintain safe distances from each other and avoid direct contact with high-touch items in the community. Here are six ways to practice social distancing:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  2. Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places like elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand if you must touch something
  3. Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places and avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc
  4. Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick
  5. Clean and disinfect your home regularly, including routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces
  6. Maintain a six-foot distance from others in public settings

What should you do if you feel sick?

Because coronavirus and other diseases with similar symptoms are very contagious, there are different steps to take to protect others as you seek medical attention:

  1. If you are feeling sick, call your primary care physician’s office BEFORE going there.
  2. If you do not have a primary care physician, call ahead and then visit any urgent care or walk-in clinic in the community.
  3. Community physicians and other clinical providers have access to CDC protocols to determine whether or not patients qualify for COVID-19 testing.
  4. Local testing for COVID-19 is currently available only by sending samples to the CDC, in coordination with Metro Health and the CDC.
  5. People who do not have CDC-defined symptoms and exposure history will not be offered testing for COVID-19.
  6. If you need additional information, call the San Antonio Metro Health hotline at 210-207-5779. (Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.).

Is coronavirus testing available locally?

The City of San Antonio currently has multiple testing locations, and while officials have lifted the requirement of having a physician's referral to be tested, it is currently reserved for those who are showing symptoms. If you are, here's where you may get a test:

  • Freeman Coliseum: Drive-thru testing is set up at the facility, where an appointment is required. To do so, you must first complete the city's virtual self-screening test or call (210)233-5970 if you are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus. 
  • West-side Walmart: A drive-thru testing site has also been organized in the parking lot of a Walmart at 8923 West Military Dr., with priority given to those showing symptoms as well as all healthcare workers and emergency responders. If you are eligible, click here to sign up for an appointment. 
  • Texas MedClinic: The clinic is conducting tests at several of its Alamo City locations. To be tested here, review the process to register and take the evaluation screening quiz. You will then be asked to check in online before going in.
  • CentroMed: Limited testing for COVID-19 is being conducted here. If you are exhibiting symptoms or think you have been exposed to the virus, first call (210)922-7000 to make an appointment. Click here for more information.
  • CommuniCare: If you are an established patient at a CommuniCare clinic, are showing symptoms of the coronavirus and meet the current criteria, you may be eligible for a test. For more information on making an appointment, click here.  

Who can I call for more information?

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a hotline for residents to ask questions about the virus. The hotline is available in English and Spanish. Residents can call 210-207-5779 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Information for the public is also available at: https://www.sanantonio.gov/health/2019ncoronavirus.

It's also provided in American Sign Language at: http://sat.ahasalerts.com/ActiveAlerts.aspx?id=1334

More KENS5.com Coronavirus Coverage: