The COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect communities around the world daily. With rapidly changing and conflicting information on the virus everywhere, our doctors at First Primary Care are working hard to continually answer common, pressing questions.

Remember to stay calm, and take every advised precaution to keep you and your loved ones safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What should I use to sanitize my home to protect myself?

Dr. E. Kate Snodgrass, MD: When you clean your home, what need to start by cleaning the surface of any visible dirt or debris. If you’re actually trying to sanitize something and kill infectious particles like the Coronavirus, you need to use a cleaner that is suspected to kill the infectious particle. You can find a list of these cleaners on the EPA’s website

Because this is a new virus, we don’t have enough of it around in labs yet to test it to be sure it is killed by all cleaners.

Dr. Kate Snodgrass, MD

So as long as a cleaner is shown to kill viruses similar to the Coronavirus, like the previous SARs virus from China, then that manufacturer is able to claim that their cleaner can also kill Coronavirus.

When selecting a cleaner, it is also important to look at how long the surface has to be visibly wet with the cleaner in order for it to kill the virus. Some cleaners require up to 10 minutes and some are as short as a minute, so it’s important to know when trying to sanitize a surface.

Visit and for sanitation guidance.

What do I do if a family member is sick and unsure if they have COVID-19?

Dr. E. Kate Snodgrass, MD: The first thing that I would do is assess your family member. Are they having trouble breathing? If it’s an elderly family member, do you notice that they’re not thinking or walking as clearly as they were? If you notice discoloration around the lips, this can also be an indication in older people that they’re not getting enough oxygen.

The most common manifestation of COVID-19 is in the respiratory tract—shortness of breath, and not getting enough oxygen. If that’s the case, then your family member needs to go to the ER and be assessed by a doctor there.

That family member and all family members that have been in contact with them should all stay with each other and not expose themselves out into the population where they can spread it to other people.

And contact your doctor to see if you would be a good candidate for testing.

“If your family member is not in distress and they can safely stay at home, then you should keep them at home for at least 14 days.”

Dr. Kate Snodgrass, MD

What can I take if I have a fever?

Dr. Thi Vo, DO: We continue to recommend the usual antipyretic medication, like Tylenol. There have been some uncertainties concerning NSAIDs/anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen.

So for the time being, our clinicians have been avoiding the use of NSAIDs until there is more data. But Tylenol should be safe for now.

Should I clean my groceries when I get home?

Dr. Thi Vo, DO: The information out there about how to clean and disinfect your groceries is pretty overwhelming and confusing. But after reviewing several articles and recommendations, the general consensus is that the transmission of via food and food packaging is extremely low.

“There has been no evidence that food or food packaging have contributed to the spread of Coronavirus. The FDA doesn’t even mention that you should disinfect your grocery items.”

Dr. Thi Vo, DO

For perishable items, I do recommend that you wash your produce in running water. Please do not use soap. Ingesting it would be more harmful. Lysol is designed to disinfect surfaces and no food. So it can be toxic. And bleach can damage your hands and mouth. So focus more on keeping your hands sanitized.

For nonperishables, you may wipe down the package with a disinfectant if you want or you can leave it outside in the sun. The general consensus on cleaning is that we are actually being overcautious.

Just keep it simple—wash your hands when you get home, wash your hands when you put groceries away, and, of course, before you eat.

Should I sanitize my home if the plumber must enter to make repairs?

Dr. Thi Vo, DO: No matter who it is, if someone from the outside is entering your home, I would take extra precautions, as this person may have been exposed. So while they are in your home, do your best to maintain the social distancing of 6 feet. And of course, once they’re done with their work, I’d clean off all the surfaces the technician came into contact with.

If you come into contact with a new area or place that others have touched, be careful and use good hand hygiene.

How do I tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

Dr. Geetinder Goyal, MD: The flu has, at least so far, lower mortality than COVID-19 has shown so far. But the infectivity of flu (the R0 factor) is much lower than Coronavirus is at this point also.

“And although we’ve been seeing Coronavirus in our communities for a long time, this mutated RNA virus is clearly something we have not seen before.”

Dr. Geetinder Goyal, MD

So when the flu mutates like it did during the Spanish Flu in 1918, it still can be pretty devastating. Typically, I think flu epidemics have spread at a slower rate than this pandemic.

So a lot of these efforts, as you guys know, are to buy us more time. If we can buy time, slow down the sickness rate, hospitalization rate, mortality rate, it will allow us to better prepare. Hopefully, better testing comes in, better medications come in, more PPE comes in, and more stuff becomes available.

Dr. E. Kate Snodgrass, MD: They’re both viruses, but they do have several differences. A lot of the symptoms are overlapping.

For the flu, you can have respiratory symptoms, and, depending on the strain of the flu, you can also have GI symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

Initially, most reports are saying that COVID-19 was only giving upper respiratory symptoms and rarely was giving diarrhea. Now we’re reading that it is a common symptom with COVID-19 infections.

Other differences: the flu virus incubates for about 3 days, compared to COVID-19, which we think incubates for 5, maybe 6, days. And during this time, patients with the flu are infectious. This is one of the ways the flu spreads so easily around the world, because people don’t know they have it while they’re infectious.

COVID-19 goes a little longer with the incubation period, but the current thinking is that we’re not quite as infectious until we develop symptoms. So, there is a difference between the viruses in that regard.

But for the flu virus, the patient population most at risk are children, pregnant women, immunocompromised patients, and elderly (especially those with other medical issues). And with COVID-19 the most at risk population are gonna be elderly patients with other medical issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and especially, lung issues.

The mortality rate for COVID-19 seems to always be changing, that’s because we don’t know who all has had it. Whereas with the flu, we have this mass ability to test people and know who is positive and who died and who got really sick.

But with COVID-19, we know people who die from it because they all end up at the hospital at some point. But we don’t know who all has had it, so we can’t calculate accurate numbers correctly.

The mortality rate for COVID-19 seems to always be changing, that’s because we don’t know exactly who all has had it.

Dr. Kate Snodgrass, MD

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