COVID-19: Understanding the Coronavirus and How to Prepare

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is an infectious virus and disease that can affect the health and wellbeing of older adults and people living with disabilities who are at risk. It’s important to understand how coronavirus can affect Connecticut’s residents and communities.

The situation in Connecticut is emerging and rapidly evolving. Stay updated on information as it becomes available from ct.gov/coronavirus and the CDC.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

The information below can help you and the people you care for take preventative measures to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus and prepare in case your local community is affected by COVID-19. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus is spreadable from person to person through “respiratory droplets,” such as when an infected individual coughs, sneezes or exhales on objects and surfaces. When a person touches these objects or surfaces and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth, they can increase the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.

According to the CDC, older adults, people with disabilities and people who have serious chronic medical conditions are believed to be especially at risk of catching coronavirus. The CDC has specific guidelines and actionable tips you can use to reduce your risk of getting sick. If you or someone you care for are at risk, learn more here.

Older adults and people with disabilities can take additional measures to protect their health and safety while at home and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  • According to the AARP, you should stock up on important medication for at least two weeks to a month.
  • Consider stocking up on over-the-counter medications to treat fever, cough and other symptoms, as well as tissues and common medical supplies.
  • According to the CDC, if you are experiencing difficulties getting your prescription medication, consider refilling your medications with a mail-order service.
  • The CDC recommends creating a household plan of action involving household members, caregivers and healthcare providers to discuss what to do if you or your community is affected by coronavirus. Learn how to get your home ready here.
  • Tell your caregiver what medications you are taking and discuss how coronavirus may affect your ability to fill your prescriptions.
  • If you are a caregiver, monitor the food and medical supplies (oxygen, incontinence care supplies, dialysis, wound care) needed and create a backup plan.
  • Call your doctor ahead of your visit and let them know if you are infected with coronavirus or suspect you are experiencing the symptoms.

As the coronavirus situation continues to change, older adults and people with disabilities may find the sources or organizations they rely on for meals and groceries have been affected. The following tips may help you ensure your health and safety.

  • Stock up on non-perishable food items such as frozen or canned goods to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores.
  • Consider ways of getting meals and groceries delivered directly to your home.
  • If you have meals or groceries delivered to your home, call the service you use to see if you can have it dropped off directly outside your door.
  • According to the WHO, it is recommended to only wear a mask if you are ill with coronavirus symptoms or caring for someone who may be experiencing the symptoms. A disposable face mask can only be used once.

Older adults and people with disabilities can take additional measures to protect their health and safety in public spaces. The CDC recommends that if you go out in public, to keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often. During this coronavirus outbreak, it is recommended to stay home as much as possible

  • To the extent possible, avoid contact with high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc.
  • When you go out in public, wash your hands often.
  • Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
  • Consider online options to engage with your family, friends and community.
  • Avoid public transportation if possible.
  • Pay attention to your community. Tune in to local radio or television news broadcasts and ct.gov/coronavirus to learn about important changes to your community.

For the most up-to-date information concerning nursing home residents please scroll to the Press Release section on the lower right hand corner of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program website homepage. 

The following are everyday precautions people of all ages and abilities can perform daily to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and reduce the risk of infection.

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
  2. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  3. Clean your hands after touching surfaces in public spaces.
  4. If possible, avoid touching high-contact surfaces in public spaces such as door handles, handrails, or elevator buttons.
  5. Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.
  6. Avoid non-essential travel.
  7. Watch for symptoms and emergency warning signs.
  8. Have a plan for if you do get sick.
  9. Stay updated as the situation in your local community changes.
  10. Avoid myths and hysteria. Focus on the facts from trusted, reputable sources such as ct.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov.

Important: As the situation continues to change, it is important to avoid scams, malicious websites, and links or emails from sources you don’t know. It is also important to be aware of unapproved and misbranded products claiming to treat or prevent COVID-19. Learn more about what the FTC and FDA are doing to help you identify and avoid coronavirus scams.

If you are sick with coronavirusor suspect you are infected with the virus that causes coronavirus, follow the tips below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community. The CDC recommends the following steps if you are sick with coronavirus.

  1. Stay home. People who are mildly ill with coronavirusare able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care and do not visit public areas.
  2. Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency.
  3. Avoid public transportation, ride sharing or taxis.
  4. Stay away from others as much as possible. You should stay in a “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom if available.
  5. Limit contact with pets & animals. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with coronavirus, it is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with animals until more information is known.
  6. Call ahead before visiting your doctor. If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have coronavirus.
  7. Wear a facemask if you are sick.
  8. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Throw tissues in a lined trash can and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  9. Clean your hands often. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing going to the bathroom, and before eating or preparing food.
  10. Use hand sanitizer if soap is not available. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  11. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  12. Avoid sharing personal household items. Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
  13. Clean high-touch surfaces every day. Clean surfaces in your “sick room” and bathroom and let a caregiver clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas.

This is not an exhaustive list. For more information and support, visit ct.gov/coronavirus and the CDC.

The following organizations and online resources provide up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and provide in-depth information about safeguarding the health and wellbeing of yourself, those you care for and your community.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. World Health Organization
  3. CT.gov/coronavirus
  4. AARP