Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19

  • Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
  • 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.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people in your home, this is known as home isolation.

  • Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Limit contact with pets & animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
    • Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with animals until more information is known.
    • When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick with COVID-19. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor.

  • Call ahead: If you have a medical appointment, call your doctor’s office or emergency department, and tell them you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the office protect themselves and other patients.

Cover your coughs and sneezes.

  • Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Wash hands: Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean your hands often.

  • Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are 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.
  • Soap and water: Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Wear a facemask if you are sick.

  • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. This will protect people around you.
  • If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live in the home should stay in a different room. When caregivers enter the room of the sick person, they should wear a facemask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.

Avoid sharing personal household items.

  • Do not share: Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
  • Wash thoroughly after use: After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.

Proper handwashing is always the preferred practice. When that isn't possible, many with COPD regularly use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. We know there is a nationwide shortage of sanitizer and many have suggested recipes for making your own. While this can be effective, it is a BIG IF because you must follow the instructions carefully and end up with a sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. You should also consider the risks of accidental ingestion or contact with the alcohol if you have children in your household and use it only as a last option if no soap and water, antibacterial wipes or commercial sanitizer are available.

There is no one answer to this question as it depends on your unique circumstances, but here are a few things to consider:

  1. First and foremost, if you are concerned talk to your doctor and explain your concerns. Ask if they feel comfortable with you delaying your appointments. Many healthcare facilities are now prioritizing urgent and emergency visits.
  2. Assess the current situation in your state and local community. If you are in an area where there has been documented community spread and you are concerned, ask your doctor about the possibility of virtual visits. Many practices have added telehealth options to their services for select issues and they may consider offering to consult with you via their telehealth platform, often an app or a website that can be used on a smartphone, tablet or camera-enabled computer.

Yes, but it is very unlikely. The CDC explains why in their Q and A at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#spreads. Extra precautions can't hurt, even if the risk is low. Washing your hands or if that isn’t possible, using hand sanitizer makes sense after touching surfaces or handling objects that others may have been touching.

There are two types of masks commonly mentioned in media coverage, the surgical mask, and the N95 mask. NEITHER mask is recommended for the prevention of respiratory infections. Furthermore, the N95 mask can be tough for people with COPD to use, and in some patients, prolonged use of the N95 mask can cause more shortness of breath, lower blood oxygen saturation and higher exhaled carbon dioxide levels.

Both types of masks are currently in short supply and health officials are urging the public to refrain from buying supplies of masks that are critical for the healthcare workers taking care of infectious diseases of all types to access. If you would like to discuss your questions about masks further, we encourage you to reach out directly to your healthcare professional team as they will be best suited to evaluate your unique circumstances.

If you are sick, wearing a facemask when you are around other people or entering a healthcare provider’s office will help protect the people around you.

The COVID-19 outbreak in a Washington nursing home raised concerns about the risks faced by others in similar places, including nursing homes, assisted living homes and other senior institutional living arrangements. The CDC has published recommendations for these facilities at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/prevent-spread-in-long-term-care-facilities.html. Recommendations include very strict limits on visitors, flexible sick leave policies for workers, rules to identify and address sick workers, education and training on COVID-19 for residents and workers and a series of improved cleaning and infection-control practices. If your facility hasn’t implemented visitor restrictions or other policies consistent with the CDC recommendations, you should ask them how they are planning to respond. Consider asking what arrangements they are making so there is enough oxygen and protective gear available, along with what policies they are putting in place so they can be sure higher-risk patients, like those with lung disease, are assessed and moved to a hospital if necessary. Finally, consider suggesting that they conduct additional outreach to the facility’s employees to educate them about lung disease and the early signs and symptoms of exacerbations. You can send them to the COPD Foundation’s website for downloadable resources or videos.

The answer depends on what type of insurance you have and what services are needed.

The COPD Foundation supports action from state and federal authorities to require all insurers to waive cost-sharing (the amount you have to pay) for COVID-19 testing AND related treatment.

If you would like more information about coverage for COVID-19 related testing and treatment, or coverage for backup supplies of your medications, here are a few places you can reference to find out more depending on what type of coverage you have.

Make sure you are washing your hands correctly with this thorough tutorial from the World Health Organization (WHO). Print a few out and hang them near sinks. https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/. Prefer video? Check out this WHO video tutorial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PmVJQUCm4E

  1. Stock up on supplies. Make sure you have extra necessary medications and medical supplies.
  2. Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  3. When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact.
  4. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  6. Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  7. Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  8. Stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a novel coronavirus that is different than the common cold, flu or pneumonia. COVID-19 emerged in China in late 2019 and is now present in multiple other countries, including the U.S.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are like those of a respiratory infection These symptoms include:  

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • The disease is spread primarily through person-to-person contact and contact with respiratory droplets from the sneeze or cough of an infected person, however, it is possible but less likely, that people who don’t have symptoms could spread the disease.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

The first case of “community-spread,” of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on February 26, 2020. The virus has been confirmed in all states in the U.S. and it is expected that additional cases will continue to be identified in the U.S.

People with COPD and other lung conditions are at increased risk of severe outcomes if they do contract COVID-19, just as is the case with typical respiratory infections, the seasonal flu, and pneumonia. If you have reason to suspect you might have any type of respiratory infection, prompt action is critical. Get further tips for actions to take if you have early warning signs of an exacerbation.

There is likely to be some overlap between the symptoms you normally experience during a COPD exacerbation or flare-up and symptoms of COVID-19. There is also no "typical" COPD exacerbation, since each individual experiences a range of mild to severe symptoms.

Early reports show that high fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, but in general, high-grade fevers are less likely to happen in a COPD exacerbation. You should pay particular attention to what your "normal" exacerbation symptoms are and reach out to your doctor if you are at all concerned about shortness of breath and any symptoms that may be different from your "everyday" of living with COPD, just as you would with typical COPD exacerbations. Most medical practices and hospitals are asking that you call first, rather than visiting the office or emergency room, unless it is a life-threatening situation.