Coronavirus: What should veterans do?

What is the Department of Veterans Affairs doing in response to the coronavirus pandemic?

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The VA says it has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for veterans in the face of the emerging health risk. The VA says it is working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak of the virus.

The VA says it has administered over 322 COVID-19 tests nationwide while taking aggressive steps to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

These measures include outreach to veterans and staff members, clinical screening at VA health care facilities, and protective procedures for patients admitted to community living centers and spinal cord injury units.

What should veterans do?

Any veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. The VA urges Veterans to call before visiting – you can find contact information for your closest VA facility.

Alternatively, veterans can sign into My HealtheVet to send a secure message to the VA or use telehealth options to explain their condition and receive a prompt diagnosis.

Upon arriving at a VA facility, all patients will be screened for flu-like symptoms before they enter in order to protect other patients and staff. A VA health care professional will assist you with next steps once this screening process is complete.

At this time, the VA is urging all visitors who do not feel well to please postpone their visits to VA facilities.

How to protect yourself

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 infection and no medication to treat it. The CDC believes symptoms appear two to 14 days after exposure. People are urged to avoid exposure and avoid exposing others to an infection with these simple steps.

  • Learn to use VA Video Connect through the VA mobile app store or by contacting your VA care team, before any urgent problems arise.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An easy way to mark the time is to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice while scrubbing.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick or becoming sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (not your hands) and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Getting a flu shot is recommended.

VA COVID-19 Cases

Nationally, as of March 18, 2020, VA is tracking the following Veteran patients with either a CDC confirmed or a locally, presumptively confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. This is a rapidly evolving situation and VA will provide updated information as it becomes available and verified.

44 Positive Veteran Cases as of March 18:

  • 1 Ann Arbor – VA Inpatient
  • 8 Atlanta – 7 home quarantine, 1 VA Inpatient
  • 2 Bronx – 2 home quarantine
  • 1 Cleveland – VA Inpatient
  • 3 Denver – 2 home quarantine, 1 VA Inpatient
  • 1 Detroit – home quarantine
  • 1 Fresno – home quarantine
  • 1 Hudson Valley – home quarantine
  • 1 New Jersey – home quarantine
  • 3 New York Harbor – 2 home quarantine, 1 VA Inpatient
  • 5 NOLA – 1 home quarantine, 4 VA Inpatient
  • 1 Palo Alto – VA Inpatient
  • 1 Portland – community hospital
  • 5 Puget Sound – 2 home quarantine, 3 VA Inpatient
  • 1 San Francisco – home quarantine
  • 2 Sioux Falls – 2 home quarantine
  • 1 Southern Nevada – VA Inpatient
  • 2 Togus – 2 home quarantine
  • 1 Tomah – home quarantine
  • 1 Tucson – VA Inpatient
  • 2 White River Junction – 1 home quarantine, 1 VA Inpatient

Deaths: 1

For more information

More can be learned through the following CDC sites, about:

* Links with an asterisk (*) next to them will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site.