Patient and client safety is the top priority in the implementation of any changes in Howard Brown Health’s delivery of affirming, responsive healthcare. Any patient that is experiencing flu-like symptoms or believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) should call ahead at 773.388.1600 and a nurse will triage you over the phone or offer alternatives to coming to one of our clinics, if it is determined a visit is not necessary.
City and State Updates
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) released new guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can view the full guidance document on their website. Governor J.B. Pritzker also released a statewide mandate for bars and restaurants. The following are the major updates contained in the new guidance:
- All bars and restaurants will close by the end of the day 3/17, with drive through and curb-side pickup allowed until further notice.
- All events of 50 people or more will be banned for at least the next eight weeks.
- We strongly recommend cancelling gatherings of 10 or more attendees if all attendees are from vulnerable populations/people at higher risk (as defined in the guidance).
- Individuals over 60, and those with significant underlying conditions, should avoid larger events. Include this information in communication/promotion of events.
Guidance for People Living with HIV
At this time, both Howard Brown and the CDPH recommend that people living with HIV follow the same guidance as the general population and do not need to take additional precautions (See CDPH’s Preparedness Checklist for Individuals and Households), unless individuals are considered higher risk (See CDPH’s Guidance for People at Higher Risk).
Those at higher risk include:
- Persons over 60 years of age.
- People, regardless of age, with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD.
- People, regardless of age, with severely weakened immune systems.
The following measures are being implemented across Howard Brown’s clinics in Chicago:
- For patient protection and in line with recommended guidance for social distancing, we will soon place and manage outdoor triage stations at our clinic entrances for people who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing flu-like symptoms. These stations will have triage and screening capacity for COVID-19.
- When possible, prescription refills will be provided without visits, delivered by Walgreens. We will also be changing qualifying prescriptions from 30 to 90 day supplies when possible.
- All Walgreens Express Deliveries will now offer free delivery until further notice.
- Patients may enroll in text messaging services to receive Walgreens Express Delivery for eligible prescriptions.
- Prescriptions for controlled medications, high risk drugs, refrigerated products and those requiring proof of delivery, or proof of patient counseling signatures cannot be delivered. In this case, patients who opt not to enter the pharmacy should call them directly and inquire about other options.
Howard Brown is in close consultation with our partners in the Chicago Healthcare System Coalition, as well as engaged in regular calls with the Chicago Department of Public Health, for preparedness and response to COVID-19. The guidance and protocols that Howard Brown is providing our staff and patients is ongoing, and regularly updated.
What is the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus is currently spreading from person to person in the United States, including Chicago.
Incidence of COVID-19 is higher for people who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19, for example healthcare workers, or co-habitating people. Other people at higher risk are those who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
The vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been mild. The people most at risk for extreme complications from the virus are those who are over 60 years of age or who have underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as those with severely weakened immune systems.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus.
- Shortness of breath
How it is spread
The virus is spread by respiratory droplets, which may travel up to six feet from someone who is sneezing or coughing. Close contact with an infectious person, such as shaking hands, or touching a doorknob, tabletop, or other surfaces touched by an infectious person, and then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth can also transmit the virus. The risk of infection is dependent on exposure. Close contacts of people who are infected are at greater risk of exposure, for example, healthcare workers and those who share a living space with people that are infected.
What can everyone do to protect themselves from viral infections?
- Stay home if you are able. Even if you are not exhibiting any symptoms, you are still able to transmit COVID-19 to others. It’s important that we stop the spread of the virus to our loved ones and anyone who is at high risk.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or longer or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Perform good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to protect others from the virus.
- Clean surfaces that are frequently touched.
- Stay home if you are ill with a viral illness until you are better.
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others. This does not have to be a special type of mask. Any mask that helps capture respiratory droplets during a sneeze or cough is effective.
What behavior or practices are NOT helpful or effective?
- Isolating oneself if you are not exhibiting symptoms or avoiding certain types of people with the belief some are more likely to have the virus.
- Associating Coronavirus with a specific population or nationality. Doing so is not accurate and reinforces bias and stigma.
Is there a treatment for Coronavirus?
Right now, what we have is supportive care. A trial is currently underway with investigational drugs called remdesivir and chloroquine that Gilead Sciences created as a broad-spectrum antiviral treatment. Other antivirals drugs also show potential as possible therapies, but no conclusions have been made as to their efficacy with COVID-19. Please take medications only as directed by a medical provider.
Is there a vaccine?
Vaccine development for Coronavirus is underway, but according to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious disease, it likely won’t be available for another 1-1.5 years if creation is successful. This will be helpful if Coronavirus has a prolonged or reoccurring presence.
Want to learn more?
Resources from the Chicago Department of Health:
- Get the Facts: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- What to do if you have symptoms and have not been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (pdf)
- What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease 2019 (pdf)
- What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (pdf)
- Interim guidance for people living with HIV
- Tips for Outpatient Healthcare Facilities During COVID-19 Community Transmission (pdf)