New Yorkers! Right now, city officials are advising people to NOT go to a hospital unless it is a true emergency and you feel like you can’t breathe. The system is so overwhelmed that if you have mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms (fever of over 100F, dry cough, fatigue, loss of sense of smell/taste), you might face a wait — in a crowded ER — of six, eight, 10+ hours. If you don’t have the coronavirus when you walk into that room, you will certainly have it when you walk out.
Those with mild to moderate symptoms may still talk to a doctor. Call your own doctor, if you have one. If you don’t, use the tele-health services at the major New York hospitals.
To access New York’s public hospital helpline, dial 311.
If you have an underlying health condition or are otherwise in a high-risk group, do not delay — consult with a doctor immediately via phone or the tele-health options if you have mild to moderate symptoms. Don’t shrug it off or say “I’ll see how I feel in the morning.” Your condition could change quickly and you need to get advice based on your particular situation.
If you and a medical professional decide you’re in good enough shape to try to weather the illness at home, be serious about quarantining yourself. Do NOT leave your home unless it’s decided you need to go to a doctor and for that, wear a mask. Do your best to keep what distance you can between you and anyone you live with. Of course, everyone should be washing their hands and cleaning surfaces frequently.
Call 911 if you (or someone you live with) are have are choking or having very troubled breathing, or symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. Those calls will be prioritized, but the 911 volume is so high that you might be placed on hold. Be prepared. Remember, the risk of infection is too high for a healthy person to accompany a sick person to the hospital. Unfortunately, this will be a lonely experience.