SAN ANTONIO — KENS 5 is reporting on the coronavirus pandemic with facts, not fear. Here are some of the most common local questions about coronavirus with answers from San Antonio Metro Health officials:

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
Coronavirus - San Antonio Q&A
KENS 5

What are the symptoms or coronavirus?

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

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.

Coronavirus vs. Flu vs. Allergies - Know Your Symptoms
KENS 5

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 is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and has asked that the operation remain on federal ground and use federal resources to ensure local hospitals and medical capacity are prepared for potential community spread of coronavirus. San Antonio currently has a very limited number of test kits and is expected to receive additional kits soon.

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: