What to do if you feel sick: Health officials urge people to protect healthcare workers and first responders

Officials say please don’t go to the E.R. unless it’s a true emergency

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

During Friday’s press conference where San Antonio and Bexar County leaders announced the first travel-related case of COVID-19 in the community, health officials stressed the need to protect our community’s healthcare workers and first responders.

“Please don’t go to the E.R. (emergency room). It’s the last resort,” said Dawn Emerick, the director of Metro Health.

If you’re feeling sick, you’re urged to stay home and recuperate. Most people will only have mild symptoms and will recover within a few weeks.

If you experience shortness of breath or chest pain, call your health care provider and he or she will advise you what to do next. If you don’t have a doctor, you can call ahead to an urgent care clinic. Those without medical insurance should call a federally-qualified health center including CommuniCare, CentroMed and University Health System clinics.

Testing for COVID-19 is done through a doctor’s office, not at Metro Health, Emerick explained.

Hospitals and first responders have implemented new protocols to try to protect workers from the new virus.

Local officials urged people not to call 911 unless it’s a true emergency. If you do call 911 with concerns that you may have COVID-19, the dispatcher will ask you a series of questions about your health and your travel history.

Under the new protocol, only one or two paramedics may respond to your call. They will stay six to eight feet away and ask you some questions before treating you and they may ask you to call your healthcare provider if it’s not an emergency. Only true emergency cases will be transported to hospitals.

Local hospitals have announced they are limiting visitors and closing some hospital entrances.

Health officials urged the public to maintain a sense of calm and to help stop the spread by not gathering in large groups and practicing good hygiene.

“Just everybody be cautious. We’re going to be fine here in San Antonio,” Wolff said.

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District has opened a hotline for Bexar County residents with questions about the novel coronavirus.

Residents can call (210) 207-5779 during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The COVID-19 hotline is available in English and Spanish.

The United Way help line will guide people with questions about local health services. That number is 211.

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