Amid the recent of surge of COVID-19 cases in our region and across South Carolina, it’s important to understand what to do in case you or a loved one begins to feel ill.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhea, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and new loss of taste or smell.
If you begin to experience any of those symptoms, there are several options for how to proceed, says Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.
The first option is to call the Tidelands Health COVID-19 Nurse Line at 843-652-8800 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for COVID-19 screening and referral.
Another option, Dr. Harmon says, is to contact your primary care provider for instructions on what to do next. If you do not have a primary care provider, call 1-866-TIDELANDS for assistance locating one.
“Of course, if you are experiencing emergency symptoms such as significant trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest area, delirium or confusion, bluish lips or face or the inability to wake or stay awake, call 911 immediately,” Dr. Harmon says. “These symptoms could be life threatening.”
Most people who are infected with COVID-19 will recover safely at home, Dr. Harmon explains. However, there is a risk of severe complications especially among older people and individuals with certain underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease and more.
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“Symptoms may start mild but escalate,” Dr. Harmon says. “Be flexible. If you start experiencing worsening symptoms and feel like you need help, seek prompt medical care.”
If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may have the disease, make sure to follow these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 can recover safely at home. If you are ill with the disease, don’t go out except to get medical care. Call the provider’s office before seeking care. In case of emergency, call 911. Individuals who have had the illness and recovered within the past three months do not need to stay home, though they should wear a face mask, social distance and follow other prevention guidelines when in public.
- Rest and drink plenty of fluids. For body aches and fever, consider taking over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen.
• Avoid public transportation. Don’t hire a taxi or use ride-share companies or services.
- Isolate yourself. While recovering at home, try to stay in a separate room away from other people and pets. If possible, use a separate bathroom as well. Wear a mask or face covering if you need to be around others in your home, being sure to keep your nose and mouth covered.
- Use a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes. Discard soiled tissues in a lined trash basket, and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid sharing dishes, drinking glasses, towels and other household items with others in the home. Be vigilant about washing handled items with soap and water after each use.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the area where you’re isolated. High-touch surfaces include remote controls, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, phones and bedside tables. Wear disposable gloves during the cleaning process. Let others clean the common areas outside your “sick room.”
- Be sure to follow CDC guidelines for when you can end isolation. A variety of factors influence when you can safely be around others.
“Remember to limit your contact with others as much as possible if you have COVID-19 or think you might be ill with the disease,” Dr. Harmon says. “Staying away from other people is one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr. Gerald Harmon
Vice President of Medical Affairs and Family Medicine Physician
Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.Learn More
Medical University of South Carolina
U.S. Air Force Regional Hospital
American Board of Family Medicine
Meet the Expert
Dr. Gerald Harmon
Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.