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What to expect if you need to call 911 during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Dispatcher will ask symptom questions

DETROIT – First responders are taking extra precautions to stay safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

People who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as a dry cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact their primary care doctor and follow their instructions.

If you must call 911, expect to answer questions about COVID-19 symptoms.

Some questions you may be asked include:

  • Do you have a fever?
  • Are you hot to the touch?
  • Do you have the chills?
  • Are you having trouble breathing?
  • Do you have a cough?
  • Are you experiencing any new breathing problems?
  • Are you under public health monitoring?

First responders ask that you honestly answer the dispatcher’s questions to better protect the people who will come to help you. Also, don’t be alarmed if first responders arrive wearing protective gear.

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

Additionally, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a health department can disclose to first responders that a member of a household has COVID-19.

This information can be shared with central dispatch and then communicated with first responders when the first responder could be at risk. Reasonable effort should be made to make sure only a limited amount of information is shared, Nessel said.

The Delta Township Fire Department made a video of what to expect when calling 911:

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.