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March 6, 2020

WSMA Statement on COVID-19

The physicians of Washington state want to reassure our patients as our state experiences an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). As you know, physicians treat patients with illnesses, diseases, broken bones and the like every day.

We are still learning about this new novel virus, but what we do know now is that by following the safety precautions being given by our public health leaders, you can protect yourself and your family from contracting and spreading the virus. For those that do contract the virus, the vast majority won’t require medical treatment or testing for COVID-19—for healthy younger or middle-aged individuals, symptoms will likely be mild, and self-quarantining at home, avoiding other people where possible, washing hands, etc., should be sufficient to recover and minimize further spread of the infection

We want to emphasize that just because you're sick, you don't necessarily need to be tested; as testing becomes more widely available, we want to focus on keeping it available to those at highest risk for health complications.

Here’s what you should know:

First, our state’s public health responders and health care community are working around the clock to contain its spread, and—with your help—we believe we can slow its transmission.

Second, for those of you who may experience symptoms that are associated with the virus, most likely you won’t need medical treatment or even need testing for COVID-19. Your symptoms will hopefully be mild and you and your family will benefit from the healthy practices you should follow for any viral infection, including:

  • Washing your hands.
  • Covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough then throwing the tissue away.
  • If you feel sick, staying home and letting the virus run its course, using over-the-counter medicines to help relieve your symptoms.
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces around your home.

Third, the time to call your doctor is if you develop a high fever or severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing. If you do need to visit your doctor, make sure the office knows you may have COVID-19, so that they can take steps to prevent others from being exposed or infected.

Fourth, if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, you may not need to be tested for COVID-19. The CDC is recommending testing for people at high risk for health complications, people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or people who have recently traveled to areas with ongoing spread of the virus. While more COVID-19 testing is becoming available, capacity is still limited. Please be understanding with physicians and office staff if it’s determined COVID-19 testing isn’t right for you. Have confidence that your care team will do everything possible to give you the treatment you need to help you feel better.

Fifth, as we observe these precautions, remember that we’re all in this together. Let’s stay calm, take care of ourselves and each other, and do our best to keep our communities healthy and strong.

If you still have questions, call the Department of Health call center at 1.800.525.0127. It’s open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week.

For more information, contact:

Graham Short
WSMA Associate Director of Communications
206.956.3633 
gfs@wsma.org

About the WSMA

The Washington State Medical Association represents nearly 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians and medical students in Washington state. The WSMA has advocated on behalf of the house of medicine more than 125 years. Our vision is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care.

Join or renew your membership today!