Avera health professionals are encouraging everyone to review the basics of COVID-19 awareness and prevention.

First, know what to do if you think you might have the virus. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include:

• Fever or chills

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fatigue

• Muscle or body aches

• Headache

• New loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Congestion or runny nose

• Nausea or vomiting

• Diarrhea

If you think you may have COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you don’t have a doctor, you can call 211 or the Avera COVID-19 Hotline at 1-877-AT-AVERA. An order for COVID-19 testing will have to come from a doctor or the hotline.

Only visit the Emergency Room for an emergency situation.

“This step protects all patients, and it gives people clear directions about what they should do in the case of symptoms,” said Kevin Post, DO, Avera Medical Group Chief Medical Officer. “The majority of cases does not require hospitalization and can be treated at home.”

In the case of emergency symptoms that could be life-threatening, get immediate help. Call your local emergency room or 911 to inform them you have COVID-19 symptoms, then go. Emergency symptoms include bluish lips or skin, difficulty breathing, or fever over 104 degrees that doesn’t respond to treatment.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Avera clinics are offering other options for safe care, including virtual visits. Clinics may also have designated separate areas of the building or time frames for patients who have health care needs other than respiratory illness.

Avera hospitals are prepared for a surge in COVID-19 patients.

Post reminds area residents to do what they can to help flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19:

• Wear a mask

• Practice social distancing

• Especially avoid contact with anyone who is sick

• Stay home when you are sick except to get medical care

• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

• Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if you cannot wash with soap

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Get COVID-19 updates at Avera.org/COVID-19.

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