Novel Coronavirus: COVID-19 - Access Health Louisiana

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Novel Coronavirus: COVID-19

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Important Notice regarding Testing Regulations for COVID-19:

Access Health Louisiana is following federal, state and local health official recommendations regarding who can be tested for COVID-19.  Please understand that we are not able to test the general public for the novel coronavirus currently.  This information will be updated according to Louisiana Department of Health and Emergency Operation Center notifications.

Important Patient Information if You are Visiting a Clinic:

If you visit an Access Health Louisiana Clinic and you have fever, cough and trouble breathing, you are being asked to STOP and call 1-877-580-2066 to schedule an appointment with one of our telemedicine providers.  Please DO NOT Enter the clinic.  Posters are up on all of our clinic entrances alerting patients to the new protocols.  Thank you for your understanding.  This is being done to help protect you, as well as other patients.  Our telemedicine providers will be able to speak you to through video chat on your telephone, tablet or computer from the safety of your home.

We are also asking that you limit the number of people coming into our health centers.  If you have multiple family members accompanying you on your visit, please ask them to wait outside or in their vehicle.  Our staff is taking these added precautions to not only protect you, but our community as well.  We are doing our best to limit exposure to COVID-19.  We thank you for your understanding.

Louisiana leads the U.S. in COVID-19 Deaths per capita:

Half of the top twenty counties or parishes in the U.S. with deaths related to COVID-19 are located in Louisiana.  Parishes with the highest death rates include:  St. John the Baptist, Orleans and St. James.   Click here to read recommendations from Governor John Bel Edwards’ on how to reverse this upsetting trend.

Louisiana Governor Issues Stay at Home Order:

Effective at 5pm Monday, March 23, 2020, all Louisiana residents are being asked to stay at home unless they need food, medical care or medication.  The order was put in place to help slow down the community spread of COVID-19.

Louisiana Governor’s Proclamation on funeral services, interments, emergency temporary suspension of certain licensures, scope of practice & certain requirements for healthcare workers

Click here to review the Governor’s Proclamation.

View our latest Access Health Louisiana Newsletters on COVID-19:

March 11th 2020

March 18th 2020

March 21st 2020

Louisiana State Health Announcements & Restrictions:

Governor John Bel Edwards announced that all non-essential surgeries are being cancelled in Louisiana effective immediately through April 21st.  Also, the Louisiana Department of Health has asked that all non-essential, routine dental appointments and surgeries be cancelled effective immediately through April 16th.

LSU Coach Orgeron’s Game Plan for Louisiana Residents:

Compare Symptoms for COVID-19 to Cold & Flu:

What is Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a worldwide health concern as more people test positive globally.  Louisiana now has three people who have lost their lives as a result of COVID-19.  While thousands have been diagnosed with coronavirus around the world, less than one percent have tested positively here in the United States.  Right now, it’s important to remain calm and most importantly educate yourself about the virus.  “The coronavirus is responsible for about 10% of our annual colds or influenza-like illnesses over a lifetime,” says Dr. MarkAlain Dery, DO, MPH, FACOI.  “It’s very common, especially for someone like me who is 51 years of age, to have been infected several times by a coronavirus in the form of a cold or other virus that circulates around the community.”

Dr. Dery is an Infectious Disease physician with Access Health Louisiana.  In fact, he spent time working for the World Health Organization as an epidemiologist during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.  “Coronaviruses are very common.  SARS (Severe, Acute, Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) and COVID-19 are all coronaviruses and all emanated from an animal host.”

The process of an animal transferring a particulate virus to a human being host is called zoonosis.  Dery says COVID-19, SARS and MERS originated from fruit bats.  “SARS virus began in a fruit bat and moved into an intermediate host -a cat- and eventually transferred to a human host.  MERS also started in a fruit bat, then moved into a camel intermediate host and then onto a human host.  What we’re seeing for a third time is that COVID-19 likely began in a fruit bat and transferred into a human host.  We don’t know what the intermediate host is currently, but we’re seeing a 98% match of a fruit bat as its initial host.”  Dery says the fact that researchers haven’t been able to identify COVID-19’s intermediate host is concerning.  “Until we know what animal is circulating the virus, it’s still out there spreading the virus from Wuhan, China.”

COVID-19 is believed to have spread from a “wet market” in Wuhan, China which is located in the Hubei Province.  A wet market is a place that sells live animals for food.  “SARS and the novel coronaviruses both began in wet markets,” says Dery.  “The Chinese culture has markets where the animals are alive when purchased, then killed at the market so the people take the meat home and cook it while it’s fresh.  Because these animals are alive, you can see how easy it is for a virus to spread from an animal to a human.  That happens very regularly, except that once a virus gets into a human host it typically cannot replicate itself and it dies in the human host.  However, eventually one virus is going to have the right genetic makeup to replicate itself in a human host and once that happens it spreads from human to human and you have an epidemic.”

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to protect people from COVID-19.  However, a controlled clinical trial is underway at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.  Doctors are evaluating the safety and efficacy of the investigational antiviral drug Remdesivir in hospitalized adults diagnosed with coronavirus.  The trial’s regulatory sponsor is the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health.  This is the first clinical trial in the United States to evaluate the experimental treatment for COVID-19.

How can I protect myself and my family?

The best thing that people can do to protect themselves from viruses like COVID-19 is practice good hygiene.  For example, stay home when you are sick and don’t return to work or school until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medication.  Avoid touching your nose, mouth and face.  Cover your cough and sneeze.  Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.  Click here to see the best way to wash your hands.  Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What countries are considered “high risk”?

If you or someone you know has traveled to the following regions and exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath), they should contact a medical professional.  High risk regions currently include:  China, South Korea, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, northern Italy, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam.

What do I do if I think I have symptoms of COVID-19?

It’s important to follow three simple steps if you feel that you have the symptoms of COVID-19.  First, check your temperature to see if it is above 100.4 degrees.  Next, call your doctor.  He or she will ask you specific questions about your symptoms and advise you if its best to come into the clinic or report to the nearest hospital emergency room.

What is Voluntary Self-isolation?

Many people are wondering what is self-isolation?  Self-isolation is when a person does not leave their home for a designated period of time to eliminate the opportunity of exposing others to any germs or infectious diseases they may have.  During self-isolation, you should take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:

1.)  Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor your fever.

2.) Stay home and avoid contact with others.  Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period.  Discuss your work situation with your supervisor or principal before returning to work or school.

3.)  Do not take public transportation, taxis or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.

4.)  Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.

5.)  Keep your distance from others.  The suggested distance is 6 feet.

Important Resources regarding COVID-19:

Maintaining good hygiene and staying away from work or school when you are sick are key to keeping your community healthy.  Dr. Dery says people should also not be concerned about catching COVID-19 from imported products from China.  For the most up-to-date information on how COVID-19 is being followed and monitored in Louisiana, check out the Louisiana Department of Health’s website at or the Centers for Disease Control at

Dr. Dery was recently featured guests on two podcasts speaking about COVID-19.  Click on the links below to hear the latest on the virus.

Behind the Lens Podcast with Charles Maldonado (begin listening at 20:05)

The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow (begin listening at 20:20)


Mental Health Support for Dealing with COVID-19:

Below is a comic strip that was designed to help children understand the coronavirus and how to keep themselves healthy.