Cathy Campbell, CHESP, CMIP, is National Director of Service Delivery for ABM’s Healthcare division. As a Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional with a Certificate of Mastery in Infection Prevention, and more than 25+ years in the development, implementation, and oversight of environmental services infection prevention programs, Cathy brings to ABM’s clients expertise in developing and implementing protocols and best practices to ensure a safe environment. We recently sat down with Cathy to talk about COVID-19.

Q: Coronavirus, 2019 Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 … there have been so many terms in the media. What is the difference between each?

A. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in some animals and people. Usually, coronaviruses in humans cause cold-like mild illness, but some can cause more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS. A novel coronavirus is just that, a ‘new’ coronavirus that has not been identified before. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, is presenting as a respiratory disease. In February, the World Health Organization formally named it COVID-19.

Q. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to COVID-19: fever or chills (above 100.4 degrees per CDC guidelines or a specific temperature range as outlined by local ordinance), cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

Q: How contagious is COVID-19?

A: There is still so much unknown about COVID-19. However, most health experts agree that it can spread from person-to-person. Because this is a respiratory disease, the infected person coughs or exhales droplets that land on objects and surfaces. Other people than touch those surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth or breathe in the droplets if in close contact.

Q: How do I protect myself against COVID-19? Should I start wearing a facemask?

A: The best protection against COVID-19 – and most viruses such as the flu – is prevention. Wash your hands with soap and water, cover a cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects at home or work such as door handles and computer keyboards. The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings, which can be fashioned from a scarf or bandana, in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. This recommendation is not intended to protect the wearer, but rather prevent the wearer, who may be asymptomatic (have the virus, but not showing symptoms), from unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

Q. Any other advice you would give our clients and team members?

A. This is a rapidly evolving situation, so information is also constantly changing. I would recommend that you regularly check with global health experts such as:

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