COVID-19 has arrived in Austin and we are officially under a shelter-in-place order from the City.
Like we previously said, don’t panic. Don’t hoard. Look out for friends, family, neighbors, and strangers. Don’t spread unconfirmed, mis-information. Try to help others stay calm.
Avoid taking more than what is suggested on the label of anti-inflammatory supplements (stick to taking them as directed on labels), and avoid taking supplements or herbal formulas with antiviral** properties before you are actually ill. Basic health support (sleep, exercise, proper hand washing, healthy diet, low sugar, and anything you can do to keep anxiety low) is very important. Keep taking your basic supplements like Vitamin C, Zinc, Astragalus, and Mushrooms, which have immune-boosting properties. If you ended up with a lifetime supply of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks, or herbs with antiviral properties, be willing to share.
Get your information from trusted sources.
Since a great way to calm the sense of anxiety is to have a plan, we wanted to share some trusted resources with you. Twitter feeds and Facebook posts are not the best way to get factual information, and it is proven that going down the Facebook rabbit hole increases anxiety and stress hormones (not to mention the EMF radiation you are getting from your phone). Put the phone down. Go for a walk in this beautiful spring weather!
Try to limit your coronavirus information updates to these reliable sources:
The World Health Organization (WHO) and their reports updated daily
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and their updates on testing in the U.S.
Texas Health and Human Services
City of Austin
The U.S. in general, and Texas in particular, are still lagging behind in the availability of test kits and streamlined testing procedures. This situation is improving.
That said, testing is now available and being done by doctor offices, clinics, hospitals, as well as the Public Health Department. Clinics are probably more nimble than the Health Department. Samples MUST be taken by a doctor or clinic staff and tests must be ordered by a doctor.
The news outlets have reported several “drive through” testing centers that recently opened. These exist, but they are test sites for pre-screened patients to receive testing without entering the facility where they could potentially spread the virus. There is no “self-service” or “on-demand” testing available at this time.
In order to be tested at one of these sites you must:
- Open a patient portal account with the facility running the test site.
- Take the free, online questionnaire to see if you might qualify for testing.
- Visit with a staff clinicians via telehealth screening (Examples include Baylor Scott & White or Ascension).
You must meet certain screening criteria to be tested. The screening criteria are slightly different depending on the lab running the test. It is still much more likely that respiratory illness symptoms are due to other infectious agents rather than COVID-19. Most guidelines also require that you are tested for other things (like the flu, pneumonia, and other common illnesses) before you are tested for COVID-19.
Most hospitals and clinics will be following the CDC recommendations for who to test.
- Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 in order to inform decisions related to infection control.
- Other symptomatic individuals such as older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).
- Any persons including healthcare personnel, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspect or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of their symptom onset.
In addition to the above criteria, Austin Public Health is limiting testing to individuals who have symptoms as well as strong reason to suspect exposure.
If you feel sick
The general symptoms for COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and/or difficulty breathing/sense of constriction or tightness in chest.
If you have symptoms and have reason to suspect you could have been exposed:
CALL your primary care doctor if you have one.
If you do not have a doctor or insurance:
- CALL an urgent care, walk-in clinic, or emergency room, and inquire about testing. You can also call the Ascension Texas hotline at 1-833-919-1680 to talk to a triage nurse.
- CALL 2-1-1 for information on low-cost or no-cost providers
- CALL CommUnityCare at 512-978-9015. They can provide over the phone triage and help point you in the right direction.
- Have food and medicine delivered to your door
- Take antiviral cold/flu supplements
- If you indeed have the flu, pneumonia, or COVID-19 strongly consider taking
NAC and/or Mucinex to help keep the phlegm thin
**Antiviral supplements are herbs and nutrients that support the part of our immune systems that fight viruses. These supplements do not kill viruses directly.
Becky Andrews, ND*, L.Ac. received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Masters in Acupuncture at Bastyr University. She specializes in complex, chronic and “difficult” cases, especially relating to digestive health, fatigue, mood and detoxification. She works extensively with MTHFr and genetic challenges. In addition to seeing patients in Austin, she is faculty at AOMA School of Integrative Medicine.
*Naturopathic Doctors are not currently licensed in the state of Texas.
Consult your healthcare practitioner before changing your medicine regimen in any way.
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