HJAR May/Jun 2020

HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS I  MAY / JUN 2020 45 Nathaniel Smith, MD, MPH Director and State Health Officer Arkansas Department of Health help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is updating their website (www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs- services/topics/novel-coronavirus) daily to provide the most up-to-date numbers of current positive and negative test results, persons under investigation (PUI), and people being monitored. The website also provides updated resources and guidance concerning COVID-19. Health care professionals are responsible for testing patients suspected to have COV- ID-19. They should use their judgment to de- termine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Most patients in confirmed cases have developed fever and/ or symptoms of acute respiratory illness such as cough and difficulty breathing. Pri- orities for testing may include: • Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 • Other symptomatic individuals such as older adults and individuals with chron- ic medical conditions and/or an im- munocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes like diabetes, heart disease, receiving im- munosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, and chronic kidney disease • Anyone, including health care profes- sionals, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 pa- tient; physicians are strongly encour- aged to test for other causes of respira- tory illness, such as flu. Patients who are mildly ill should be en- couraged to stay home and contact their physician by phone for guidance. The dis- ease may worsen in the second week after infection. Patients who have severe symp- toms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek immediate care. Encourage older pa- tients and those who have underlying medi- cal conditions or are immunocompromised to contact their physician early, even those who are mildly ill. If a patient is suspected of having