Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Coronavirus: What you need to know

A Guardsmen with the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion conducts translation work on a safety message regarding the best practices for avoiding the novel coronavirus for the Washington Department of Health on Feb. 9, 2020 at the Information Operations Readiness Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Courtesy Photo) A Guardsmen with the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion conducts translation work on a safety message regarding the best practices for avoiding the novel coronavirus for the Washington Department of Health on Feb. 9, 2020 at the Information Operations Readiness Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Courtesy Photo)

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, continues to spread worldwide.

As COVID-19 spreads, so does information about the disease. If one surfs the Internet, everything from scientifically-proven medical information about the virus to debunked conspiracy theories can be found.

More than 95,000 cases have been reported worldwide, and COVID-19 has killed more than 3,300 people, mostly in mainland China.

The disease has spread wider in Washington state, where ten people have died. A 71-year-old-man in California with underlying health conditions passed away from the disease this week, bringing the nationwide death total to 11.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Feb. 29, a number of school districts have cancelled classes, and more than 50 people in a Seattle-area nursing facility are being tested for the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 205 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of March 5. The disease has spread to 17 U.S. states. The Washington State Department of Health reported 70 cases in the state as of March 5.

Among the information circulating online are lists of items people "should buy" -- surgical masks, exam gloves, gallons of disinfectant -- but epidemiologists and preventive medicine practitioners say that's not exactly the case.

While there is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no specific antiviral treatment for the disease, Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, stated in a March 5 email to the force that "Each of you can take actions to help respond to this emerging public health threat."

Place's email also stated, "The CDC has produced more than 23 guidance documents on infection control, hospital preparedness assessments, personal protective equipment supply planning, and clinical evaluation and management."

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes that symptoms of the disease may appear in as little as two days or up to 14 days after someone has been exposed.

The CDC based this estimate on previous incubation periods for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, another type of coronavirus, first reported in 2012.

The CDC said there are simple actions people can take to prevent contracting or spreading COVID-19.

The best way to keep from getting sick, according to the CDC, is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Department of Defense issued guidance in January, mirroring that of the CDC. The DoD guidance recommended that people should also avoid close contact with those who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; and washing your hands often with soap and water.

The CDC recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing one's nose, coughing or sneezing.

Although news stories and images contain many reports of people wearing surgical masks to ward off the virus, that's not recommended, according to top officials of the U.S. Public Health Service.

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, even went so far as to post a message on Twitter last weekend.

"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!" Jerome tweeted. "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

The CDC and DoD also recommend using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water aren't available.

The spread of coronavirus has led to a shortage of hand sanitizers and disinfectants in stores, and Army and Air Force Exchange Service locations haven't been spared.

Chris Ward, senior public affairs manager at AAFES headquarters in Dallas, said in an email that the entire supply chain for hand sanitizer products and masks has been severely constrained.

"Like other retailers, the Exchange has experienced shortages of hygiene items due to a surge in demand due to COVID-19," the email stated.

Ward's email went on to state that AAFES is "aggressively working to procure additional inventory to expedite shipment to locations impacted by COVID-19," and recommended following the CDC guidance stating that hand washing is the best defense to preventing the spread of infection.

But what if someone contracts COVID-19? What should they do?

Above all, said the CDC, anyone sick with COVID-19, or if one suspects they are infected, should follow these steps:

  • Stay home, except to get medical care: Restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home: As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people in the home. Also, use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor: Call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider's office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean your hands often: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items: Don't share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day: High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions.
  • Monitor your symptoms: Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening, such as if you have difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19.

The CDC also said that those patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the CDC's website. Specific Military Health System information about COVID-19 can be found at health.mil/News/In-the-Spotlight/Coronavirus.

You also may be interested in...

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 09 - September 2021

Report
9/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cross-sectional analysis of the association between perceived barriers to behavioral health care and intentions to leave the U.S. Army; Is suicide a social phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic? Differences by birth cohort on suicide among active component Army soldiers, 1 January 2000–4 June 2021; Brief report: Gender differences and diagnostic correlates of aggressive behaviors among active component sailors; Surveillance snapshot: A simple model estimating the impact of COVID-19 on lost duty days among U.S. service members; Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. Military Service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2016–June 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots

Infographic
8/27/2021
If you have an immune system that is moderately to severely compromised, the CDC recommends you may receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). This would be at least 4 weeks after your second dose.

If you have an immune system that is moderately to severely compromised, the CDC recommends you may receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). This would be at least 4 weeks after your second dose.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Vaccine Eligibility | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Secretary of Defense Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Service Members

Article
8/26/2021
An Army medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another soldier.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DOD Intends to Mandate Pfizer Vaccine, Pentagon Official Says

Article
8/25/2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby holds a press briefing, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

CSM Gragg Vaccine Statement

Video
8/24/2021
CSM Gragg speaks about COVID-19

CSM Gragg shares his personal story dealing with COVID and the loss associated with it and urges all to take precautions.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Article
8/24/2021
Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas.

DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place discussed the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus | Deployment Health

Lt. Gen. Place and Command Sgt. Maj. Gragg on Getting Vaccinated

Video
8/16/2021
DHA Logo with the text: Importance of Vaccinations Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place & Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gragg

DHA Director Lt. Gen. Ron Place and DHA Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg talk about how getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is more important than ever.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Got Your 6: August 16, 2021

Video
8/16/2021
Got Your 6: August 16, 2021

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Military Health System Transformation

Don't Hesitate: Vaccinate Today for School

Article
8/13/2021
A boy gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Back to School Means Vaccine Time

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations | Children's Health | Immunizations | TRICARE Health Program

Services Will Make Call on Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccines

Article
8/13/2021
Two medical people prepare syringes with doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

"There is a religious exemption possibility for any mandatory vaccine, and there's a process that we go through to counsel the individual both from a medical and from a command perspective about using a religious exemption," Kirby said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Austin Seeks Presidential Approval for Mandatory Troop Vaccinations by Mid-September

Article
8/10/2021
Sailors receive COVID-19 vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for service members by mid-September, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a message to the force released yesterday.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 62

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.