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COVID-19 Webinars & FAQ

As the news and recommendations around the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) evolves, we will be hosting 30-minute updates every Monday at 1 p.m. CT. Listen and ask questions as Dr. Albert Rizzo, our Chief Medical Officer, reviews key messages and shares important updates or recommendations for individuals living with chronic lung diseases and their caregivers.

You can register in advance for webinars, or access a recording of previously recorded updates through the links below:

Note, this page will continue to update with new links for future webinars and updated frequently asked questions that you can access 24/7.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our own Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rizzo was able to answer these questions during our webinar on March 16th.

Have a question not addressed in our FAQ? Contact our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA for one-on-one support, or submit your question online.

Disease Details

Q: What is coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?
A: COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a type of coronavirus that is new to humans. Spread person-to-person, it carries the potential for severe illness, pneumonia and lung damage in some people.

Q: Are people with lung disease at higher risk for contracting it?
A: People with serious underlying health conditions, including lung disease (e.g., asthma, COPD, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis) are not more likely to contract an infection, but they are more likely to have worse outcomes if they become sick with COVID-19.

Q: Who else is considered high-risk?
A: High-risk extends to the elderly, people with other serious health conditions, and those who have weakened immune systems.

Q: Should I temporarily suspend medications that may compromise my immune system?
A: It’s generally advised to continue taking your current medications to maintain optimal health. Any concerns should be directed to your healthcare provider, however.

Q: What precautions should someone take who has a compromised immune system?
A: Anyone with a compromised immune system, which includes people with autoimmune disease, on chemotherapy or living with an organ transplant, should be more stringent on handwashing, social distancing and disinfecting. Additionally, you should contact your healthcare provider to determine an individual action plan based on your specific situation.

Q: Is it advised to continue regular, non-urgent doctor visits at this time?
A: If you have a previously scheduled appointment, contact your healthcare provider to discuss.  Please note, that doctors are urging caution and saving their resources for COVID-19 specific and emergency cases. 

Q: Should I get tested for COVID-19?
A: At this time, the two main reasons to get tested are if you’re having symptoms or have been exposed to an infected person. In most instances you will need a prescription or order from your physician. At this time, there are very few walk-in testing sites. If you experience symptoms of an illness or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. 

Q: What can we do to keep chronic lung disease patients out of the hospital given that they are ranked the third leading cause of disease admissions without a pandemic?
A: A tough question indeed. COPD, for example, is a high-risk disease for readmission to the hospital. So, the best things to do is stay on your maintenance medications, socially distance yourself, avoid sick people, watch the air quality and keep your hands clean. Stay in contact with your healthcare provider about any change in symptoms. There’s no good answer other than following your treatment plan as prescribed.

Q: Are there any lasting lung health consequences?
A: The lungs are a major target of COVID-19. When the virus is inhaled into the lungs, it invades the tissues, causing inflammation and breathing problems. If the infection worsens, it can develop into pneumonia. In a small number of severe cases, patients can develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that will require them to be placed on a ventilator for oxygen. If too much of the lung is damaged and not enough oxygen is supplied to the rest of the body, respiratory failure could lead to organ failure and death. The recovery rate and consequences from a severe COVID-19 will vary person to person but there may be have some long-term damage to the lungs.

Q: Could smoking and/or vaping make you more susceptible to COVID-19 harms?
A: Cigarette smoking and vaping are linked to lung inflammation, as well as   reduced lung and immune function, all which can increase the likelihood of complications if exposed to COVID-19. Therefore, long-terms smokers and e-cigarette users have a higher risk of developing chronic lung conditions and serious infections associated with severe cases.

Q: Could poor air quality make you more susceptible to COVID-19 harms?
A: Air pollution can make the COVID-19 pandemic worse. Since it is a disease affecting the lungs, people who live in places with more pollution could be more vulnerable.

Deeper Dive

Q: When should someone self-quarantine?
A: People who have been exposed to the new coronavirus and who are at risk for coming down with COVID-19 should practice self-quarantine. Health experts recommend that self-quarantine lasts 14 days. Two weeks should provide enough time to know whether or not they will become ill and be contagious to other people. Self-quarantine involves using standard hygiene and washing hands frequently, not sharing things like towels or utensils, staying home, not having visitors and staying at least six feet away from other people in your household. Once your quarantine period has ended, if you do not have symptoms, follow your doctor’s instructions on how to return to your normal routine.

Q: How to clean and disinfect surfaces and other household items (e.g., newspaper, mail, grocery items)?
A: It’s a good idea to wipe down surfaces and objects that enter your home using an alcohol (at least 60%) or bleach-based solution to remove germs. If the newspaper arrives in a plastic bag, carefully remove the bag and throw it away. Then, after you touch the paper, thoroughly wash your hands. The CDC has issued guidance on how to clean and disinfect should you have a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in your home.

Q: What is your recommendation for dining out?
A: If you have lung disease or a compromised immune system, we would recommend you stay in.  In some locations, some restaurants are already closing. Some restaurants have taken away some of the tables to spread customers out to achieve social distancing. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). The White House has recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and also urged us all to avoid eating and drinking at bars and restaurants. Consult your local and state agencies for the latest public health guidance for your area.

Q: How risky is it to have food or groceries delivered?
A: The benefit is that you don’t have to go out in the public. If possible, pay by credit card so you don’t have to interact with the delivery person. They can just leave it at the door. Don’t forget – after bringing in your groceries or deliveries – wash your hands.

Q: Should I avoid going to the gym, physical therapy, etc.?
A: We know that Better Breathers Clubs have been suspended as have other non-urgent support and maintenance programs. All of this is the right thing to do. If we don’t take immediate action, the virus will continue to spread. Churches, gyms and other community gathering placed are closing across the country to enforce social distancing. If we all  don’t take it seriously, it’s not going to work.

Q: Long distance car travel (or travel in general) for high-risk patients, what are some things that should be considered?
A: Traveling in a car with members of your household is okay. You’ll want to avoid crowded rest stops or restaurants. Now is not the time to visit others aside from those who live in your household to help prevent spread and limit exposure to people at high-risk for complications. Many hospitals and skilled nursing centers are limiting visitors for this reason.

Q: If someone in the household gets sick and someone else in the household is high-risk, which person should be isolated?
A: Anybody who is sick should be kept away from others, especially ahigh-risk individual. In fact, the high-risk individual should additionally contact his/her healthcare provider for advice,  monitor themselves for symptoms and share any concerns that might warrant getting tested. It is important to distinguish between the flu and COVID-19 because if itis the flu, there is treatment for that. If itis COVID-19, the sooner you get diagnosed,  the quicker necessary medical support can begin.

    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.


    Page Last Updated: March 21, 2020

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