PFF Guidance on COVID-19 and FAQs

Mar 10, 2020, 11:25 AM
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To members of the pulmonary fibrosis community,

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation has been closely monitoring the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and its spread throughout the United States.  The number of patients affected by COVID-19 is increasing and our understanding of the effects of the virus is expanding.  Based on experiences throughout the world and more recently in the U.S., people who have chronic medical issues may be at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, including those with pulmonary fibrosis.  Public health officials recommend patients in the higher risk category should reduce the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

To limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19, several recommendations have been suggested by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and include:

  1. Wash your hands often and 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.

    1. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

      1. CDC’s Handwashing Information

  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, distancing yourself by six feet.

  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  4. Stay at home if you are sick.

  5. Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

  7. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to reduce the spread of the disease to others.

  8. The CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to areas where person-person transmission of COVID-19 has occurred.

    1. Stay at home as much as possible

    2. Make sure your medications and supplies are adequate for a prolonged period of time

    3. Avoid crowds

Common Questions

Is it safe to travel for routine clinic visits?

The risk of traveling for clinic appointments is dependent upon the spread of COVID-19 in your area and the clinic in which you are seen.  If you have concerns about traveling for a clinic appointment, you should discuss your specific situation and risks with your care center.  For routine follow up appointments, rescheduling may be appropriate.  For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, we recommend visiting the CDC Travel Information and CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 webpage.

Should I continue traveling to my pulmonary rehabilitation appointments?

To avoid person-to-person transmission of COVID-19, patients should avoid crowds and stay at home as much as possible, especially if they are at higher risk for serious illness like those with PF.  We recommend discussing the risks of participating in pulmonary rehab sessions with your pulmonary rehab team and physician. Home exercise programs may be developed in discussion with your pulmonary rehab center and physician during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several online resources are available to assist patients with exercise training. Discussing the use of these tools with your physician is recommended prior to initiating the program.

Pulmonary Rehab/ Daily Fitness & Exercise
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Chronic Lung Conditions

Is it safe to have a pulmonary function test (PFT) or spirometry during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Patients have expressed concerns about whether they can become infected with COVID-19 by doing PFTs and spirometry testing.  First and foremost, if you have a cough, fever and shortness of breath, you should alert your physician before arriving to a clinic/hospital for an appointment and/or testing.  The risk of infection is very low from performing testing as long as all surfaces of the equipment are cleaned with an appropriate antimicrobial disinfectant before and after each test.  Additionally, individual, sterile mouthpieces are used for each test and an inline, antimicrobial filters prevent cross-contamination from the equipment back to the user.  If you have any concerns, please discuss with your physician and the testing center.

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is monitoring the dynamic situation with COVID-19 and will address future PFF events and programs depending of the evolving situation throughout the United States.





PFF Guidance Statement

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation medical team is actively monitoring the evolving outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus to evaluate the potential health implications for the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community in the USA.

COVID-19 results from an infection by a respiratory virus (coronavirus) that can lead to inflammation and injury within the lungs. In some people, this can progress to a serious illness. However, most people infected with the virus will not become gravely ill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified certain groups that are at higher risk for developing serious illness if they become infected. These include individuals with severe chronic medical conditions, compromised immune systems and those who are elderly.

People living with PF are considered higher risk and should take special precautions to prevent respiratory infections, such as COVID-19, influenza, and other pulmonary pathogens, and limit complications. The CDC’s guidelines for people at higher risk are available here.

The CDC, National Institutes of Health and other infectious disease researchers are currently working together to study how the virus is transmitted and to develop a vaccine to treat those infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

How is it Spread?

The virus is thought to spread primarily from droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes within six feet of other people. Also, it may be spread when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touches the eyes, nose or mouth.

Symptoms

Symptoms, which are not specific for COVID-19, appear to occur within 14 days of exposure and should be communicated to your physician include:

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

Contact your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms or think you have been exposed.

Precautions

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus, everyday preventive actions will help avoid the spread of the virus –

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available. Please see the CDC’s Handwashing Information for more information.

  • Avoid 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.

  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to reduce the spread of the disease to others.

  • Avoid travel to places where COVID-19 has occurred.

Information

Stay informed by visiting the CDC’s website and following instructions from your local public health officials.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

 

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