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Travel & leaving home

Leaving your home

Instructions on leaving your home will differ depending on where you live. A good rule of thumb is to avoid nonessential outings and stay indoors as much as possible. You should know and follow the instructions according to where you live to lower your chances of being exposed to COVID-19.

What does "shelter in place" mean?

Shelter in place means to stay at home. Exceptions to go out may include tasks that are essential to the health and safety of your family and pets.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or other serious health problems such as kidney disease, you should not go out except for essential medical appointments and treatments such as dialysis.

Additionally, non-essential businesses are closed such as dine-in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, fitness centers, hair salons, public events, and convention centers. The purpose is to avoid large groups of people from gathering to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Businesses that may be open include stores that sell groceries, take-out and delivery restaurants, gas stations, pharmacies, laundromats, banks, and government offices and services. Check on local information for shelter in place rules in your area.

What does "lock-down" mean?

In the context of COVID-19, “lock-down” and “shelter in place” (see above) are being used interchangeably. Check on local information for lock-down rules in your area.

When should I leave my home?

The best practice is to stay at home except for essential medical appointments and treatments, such as dialysis. You may also have to leave your home for other health-related issues. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider immediately. If you have a medical emergency call 911.

In some areas, supermarkets are offering special shopping hours for senior citizens to shop without additional crowds in the store. This may be a good option for older adults if grocery delivery is not available. Check on local information about when to leave your home.

Should I use public transportation?

Public transportation such as buses, subways, and trains will increase your chances of close contact with more people which may increase your exposure to COVID-19. In some areas, public transportation is reserved for essential workers. You may choose to use a taxi or ride share service to limit your exposure to large numbers of people.

How can I protect myself if I have to use a taxi or ride share?

You can protect yourself in a taxi or ride share by wiping down the seat, seat belt and anything else you may touch in the vehicle with a disinfectant wipe. Don’t shake hands with anyone in the vehicle and don’t touch your face. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after paying for the ride.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Can I take my pet for a walk?

Whether or not you should take your pet for a walk depends on where you live. Check on local regulations related to COVID-19 before taking a walk with your pet.

You can find more information about animals and COVID-19 on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

How can we get people to understand the importance of social distancing?

There are reports of younger people celebrating spring break in tightly clustered groups. Some have even made comments about not caring if they catch Covid-19. But some of these same people have taken back what they’ve said when made aware of the gravity of catching the disease and how it can hurt the ones they love, or even themselves. Young people are getting very sick and dying from Covid-19, especially healthcare professionals working on the front lines.

The same attitude of not caring about social distancing has been reported in older people as well.

People of all age groups need to have continued education on what this virus can do to them and the people they love. All age groups should be made aware of the crisis with hard data and first-hand reports of human suffering. They need to not be shielded from reality, and must be told that they can either be part of the solution otherwise they will add to the problem.

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. Because COVID-19 is different, it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are working to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. The process of research and development can take some time. When a vaccine is developed, it also needs to be tested to make sure it’s safe and effective.

Should CKD patients wear masks in public?

It is best to stay home, unless you need to attend a dialysis treatment. If you must go out in public, ask your healthcare provider if it is necessary as a CKD patient to wear a face mask since each individual case is different.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends face masks for those who are infected with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or taking care of someone with COVID-19.

The CDC also recommends wearing cloth face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 in areas where community-based transmission is significant. These homemade cloth face coverings are not masks and do not replace the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines.

Tips for using a mask include a snug but comfortable fit covering the bridge of the nose and the entire mouth. Also, be sure to be laundered the cloth mask after use each outdoor use, ideally without damage to the shape or structure of the mask. The CDC is recommending a cloth face cover like the t-shirt used in this video. The CDC also recommends coffee filters as an alternative. Use of any mask is in addition to practicing social distancing or at least 6 feet from others to limit coronavirus spread. All patients at high risk, such as immunosuppressed transplant recipients or people receiving dialysis should follow the directions of their clinicians regarding the type of face covering that should be used outside of a clinic setting.

When in public it is important to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from other people and to also avoid touching your face. Wash your hands immediately after you have been in public.

More information about face coverings on the CDC website.

Should I go to my doctors appointments?

You should first call your doctor’s office to see if they have regular office hours or if they’re doing phone, Skype, or other types of remote visits.

If you can’t have a phone or remote visit because you need a treatment, vaccine, or test, then you should ask if it’s possible to do them at a later time when it might be safer.

How do I balance my health goals with the realities of COVID-19?

Stay in touch with your healthcare team as often as possible, especially if you have any new signs or symptoms of illness. You should also reach out to them if you can’t get the medicines or foods you need.

Your main health goal is to avoid exposure to COVID-19 by staying inside and keeping a safe distance from others if you need to go out. While inside, you can relieve stress with hobbies such as reading, sewing, drawing, or board games. You should also talk with friends and family by phone, or by exercise, if allowed by your healthcare team. Be realistic with your exercise goals, and find ways to keep fit when not at the gym. For example, use stairs for a good cardio workout and look for exercise classes online. Find great tips on exercise and meditation during the outbreak here.

In time you’ll be able to return to your normal routine. But for now, you can do things you would because you were busy outside of your home. Just think how good you’ll feel if you finally clean that basement or closet–not only will you burn a lot of calories, you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment that is very good for your health!

What is telemedicine and what do I need to know about it?

Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, allows for virtual appointments (remote visits, but in real time) with your healthcare professional using your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Check with your provider to see if they offer virtual appointments so you can reduce your exposure to the coronavirus. Many insurance plans cover telemedicine, including Medicare. Veterans also have access to telemedicine through the Veterans Administration.

Telemedicine can also include remote monitoring of your health by a healthcare professional, most often a telehealth nurse. By using a special monitor that’s connected to a blood pressure machine or other device, the nurse can check on you at any time.

Healthcare professionals can’t diagnose COVID-19 through telemedicine, but they can provide medical advice, tell patients how to quarantine and when they should go to the hospital, order tests, and write prescriptions. For more information contact the American Telemedicine Association.

Use this worksheet when at a telemedicine appointment with your healthcare professional.

Should I go to my dialysis treatments?

Yes, you must go to all your dialysis treatments. Missing even one treatment can make you very sick or lead to death. Dialysis centers have been given strict guidelines on how to keep you safe from COVID-19.

If you’re feeling sick in any way, please call your center before you come for your treatment.

What are dialysis centers doing to prevent COVID-19 from spreading?

Dialysis clinics are checking all patients who come into the clinic for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. They are keeping all patients who show any signs of illness at a safe distance from other patients. Sick patients wear masks from the time they enter the unit until after they leave the unit.

Clinics are also following strict methods of cleaning and disinfecting the entire treatment area, including machines and other surfaces. Go here for more details.

Can I recover from COVID-19 and then get it again

" With regards to recovery and then reinfection…we do not have the answers to that. That is an unknown."

Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme

According to the CDC, the immune response to COVID-19 infection is not yet understood. It is believed, in the short-term, that people who recover from COVID-19 are unlikely to be reinfected with the virus. However, the length of time that someone may be immune is uncertain.

WHO guidance

In a recent statement, WHO officials have reported there is no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection. In addition, no study has evaluated whether the presence of COVID-19 antibodies confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans.

COVID-19 testing accuracy

There is also some concern regarding the test for COVID-19 antibodies. A negative test result means that there were no detectable antibodies found in the specimen. However, not all people with confirmed COVID-19 infection have antibodies above the detectable level. The sensitivity of the test to detect virus antibodies determines the accuracy of the results. There have been reports of false positive results, leading people to think they have some measure of protection, when in fact, they do not.

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