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Update: Protecting Yourself During the Spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

(March 20, 2020)

As the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread throughout the U.S. and globally, the American Lung Association has updated guidance on how to protect yourself and your family from becoming infected by this novel coronavirus.

During these times of uncertainty, we are seeing an uptick in the spread of myths and misinformation about COVID-19 and how to protect your family. Please know that we will share science-based information for all Americans, including those with lung disease. Follow this page for up-to-date information and tested public health measures that work, and help us share this information through your social networks.

For COVID-19 and other lung-related concerns, contact our Lung HelpLine by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA or submitting a question online.

Important Links:

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Watch: COVID-19 and Chronic Lung Disease: What You Need to Know

Every Monday at 1 p.m. CT, our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Albert Rizzo, will provide information on COVID-19 and recommendations for people with chronic lung disease and their caregivers. Register for the webinars in advance, watch recorded updates from previous weeks and access our FAQs 24/7—all available online.

Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones

Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19

Reported symptoms of COVID-19 have ranged from mild to severe. The CDC reports that symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus, and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you experience symptoms of an illness, have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider and stay at home to avoid contact with others. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and questions to ask your doctor.

Steps to Preventing Illness and Spread

The virus is thought to mainly spread from person-to-person between people in close contact, including through coughs and sneezes. To a lesser degree, it is also believed possible to spread by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. Learn more about how COVID-19 is spread and how to protect yourself.

Who Is Most At-Risk for the COVID-19

Like the seasonal flu, older adults and those with underlying health conditions may be more at risk for severe symptoms. Among those listed are individuals living with chronic lung disease such as asthma, COPD, IPF and interstitial lung diseases. For these individuals especially, it is vital to heed public health warnings on social distancing and avoiding public places when possible. If you are at-risk, be attentive to any possible symptoms—fever, increased cough or shortness of breath from your baseline—and be more communicative with your caregivers. Stay on your medication as directed and be careful to make sure you don't run out.

Flattening the Curve

Many phrases have been introduced to the public this past week from "delay phase" to "social distancing." At the top of the list is the term: "flattening the curve." What does this mean? It's a society-wide effort to slow down and spread out the incidence of COVID-19 cases. A flatter curve will ultimately guard against overwhelming the healthcare system and the workforce. This doesn’t necessarily mean that fewer people get sick. It means that people don’t all get sick at the same time.

By taking proactive steps, like canceling large gatherings and restricting contact with others, we have a chance to regain control of this fast-moving disease and alleviate further damage. Learn more through this informative Washington Post article.

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Tips for Coping 

Get advice from lung health experts on ways to help manage your mental and emotional well-being during the COVID-19 crisis. 

You Ask. We Answer.

Our Lung HelpLine staffed by medical professionals ready to answer questions about COVID-19 and other lung-related concerns. This service is available for free in more than 250 languages. Contact our Lung HelpLine by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA or submitting a question online. You can also learn more about our HelpLine here.

Additionally, the Lung HelpLine is answering questions on online support communities. Learn more here.

More Resources

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