General Information

Is it safe to leave quarantine yet?

Many businesses and parks have slowly started re-opening across Arizona, but you may be wondering if it’s really safe to go out yet.

While it may be tempting to fall into our old social habits, it’s important to remember that it’s still not yet safe to return to our normal, pre-COVID routines. As a community, we all need to continue practicing social distancing and taking extra caution to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy – especially now that more people will be out in public.

Any time you choose to leave the house, keep yourself and others safe by maintaining social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

If you or a member of your household are immunocompromised or over the age of 65, take extra caution when deciding whether or not to go out, as COVID-19 is still spreading.

If you choose to go to a restaurant or non-essential business, we recommend taking the following precautions:

  1. Continue wearing your face mask
  2. Limit the number of people going out with you
  3. Maintain social distancing – stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times
  4. Don’t leave the house if you’re not feeling well
  5. Don’t gather in groups of more than 10
  6. Continue limiting your exposure to people outside of your household

Do I need to wear a mask?

The CDC highly recommends wearing a face mask or other cloth face covering to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Though there aren’t any laws requiring masks, wearing one is considerate to those around you and can help reduce the risk of spreading germs. This is especially important given the fact that some people can carry the COVID-19 virus without showing any symptoms. You should wear your mask anytime you go to a public space, such as a grocery store.

If you don’t have a face mask or are having a hard time finding one, you can tie a scarf or other strip of fabric around your face. Make sure you are fully covering your nose and mouth.

Masks shouldn’t be worn by anybody who can’t remove the mask by themselves, has a hard time breathing, or is younger than 2 years old.

And remember – just because businesses are beginning to open up, that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is less of a risk or that it’s safe to return to our old habits. If we return to our old social habits too quickly, we run the risk of making matters even worse – that’s why it’s critical for us all to continue practicing social distancing and limiting the amount of people who are out in public. As much as you may be tempted to go out to a restaurant or throw a small gathering, continue staying home as much as possible for the sake of your own health and the health of your community.

When should you visit a doctor, urgent care or emergency room?

If you are experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Fever

Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms and any recent travel. This will help them prepare for your arrival so that they can take steps to reduce symptom exposure to themselves and other patients.
Cover your nose and mouth with a mask BEFORE you enter the healthcare facility for medical evaluation. The healthcare provider will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.
When experiencing symptoms, you should:

  • Avoid contact with others while sick
  • Avoid travel
  • Stay home from work or other activities
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

Most cases have been mild, but some have resulted in severe complications that require hospitalization. Current research shows older individuals and those with underlying disease may be at greater risk.
The best advice is to practice good hygiene. This includes:

  1. Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – hand sanitizer (with 60-90% alcohol content) is a second option.
  2. Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes, especially with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid contact with sick people
  4. If you are sick, stay at home.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing – DON’T cough or sneeze into your hands. Wash your hands afterwards.
  6. Clean objects in your home, car and workplace.
  7. If you are traveling overseas, make sure to follow CDC guidelines at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.

At Valleywise Health, we are in constant communication with the state health department and Maricopa County Department of Public Health about the best way to ensure everyone’s safety. We will continue to communicate the latest updates.

Coronavirus vs. COVID-19

  • Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses, known as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
  • Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. There are 7 coronaviruses that can infect people. Four of these are the most common human coronaviruses, in addition to MERS-CoV (2012), SARS-Cov (2002), and the current novel COVID 19 strain that started in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubeil Province, China.
  • Common human coronaviruses
    • 229E (alpha coronavirus)
    • NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
    • OC43 (beta coronavirus)
    • HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
  • Those four common strains of coronavirus are detected by our viral respiratory pathogen panel by PCR (RPP). All four strains do cause respiratory symptoms that range from common cold symptoms to fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
  • If the RPP comes back positive for coronavirus, it means the patient is infected with one of the common strains listed above and NOT COVID-19.
  • If the RPP is ordered as part of the COVID-19 panel and comes back negative, depending on the provider discretion/orders, the nasal swab used to collect the RPP will be sent to either state or commercial lab for COVID-19 testing.
  • Valleywise Health is now performing COVID-19 lab testing for patients and employees that meet criteria.

Blog Posts on COVID-19

When, Where, Why and How To Get the COVID Vaccine in Arizona

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COVID-19 One Year Later: Mental Health in Quarantine

Maintaining mental health in quarantine has taken a psychological toll on nearly everyone. However, this past year has helped us generate open conversations about how we feel and de-stigmatize seeking treatment.

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