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COVID-19 Information & Resources Blog

A thoughtful and comprehensive response to COVID-19 with particular focus on the questions facing high-risk populations: older adults & persons with chronic illness

In this time of crisis of working to protect the health and safety of ourselves, families, and communities, it can be stressful by itself to process all the information coming at us from so many sources. In response to this, the University of Louisville Trager Institute is posting coronavirus updates and announcements to our COVID-19 Information & Resources Webpage.

Using our team’s expertise in the areas of older adult health, chronic disease management, mental health, and caregiver stress, this page is a way for us to share practical advice and guidance for people who are scared and concerned for their safety and health, especially for those who are in the high-risk populations. Our goal in sharing this information is to create a proactive community of care.

COVID-19 Information & Resources Webpage


Quick Links

The Basics: About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • What is it called: Coronavirus, 19 Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • How it spreads: The virus is spread via droplet transfers. It has an incubation period of 4 – 14 days – this is when we have the virus in our body, but we do not have any symptoms. People are “carriers” of the virus during this time. Some people may never show signs; this is called being “asymptomatic.”
  • Timeline: Started on Dec. 31, 2019 in China and had first cases in the U.S. on Jan. 15, 2020. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020 and the U.S. declared a state of emergency on March 12, 2020
  • Current phase: We are past the containment stage and are now in the mitigation phase. This means healthcare officials believe everyone has been exposed world-wide, and so now we are working to manage the effects of the virus in a way that keeps people safe and healthy. During this phase, the goal of our community and healthcare system to “flatten” the curve of expected cases such that we spread the expected cases over a longer time frame without maxing out the resources of our healthcare system. 
  • Resource for state-by-state models & projects 
  • Common Symptoms: Dry Cough: 65%, Fever: 45% at presentation & 85% during illness, Shortness of breath: 20 – 40%. If you have nasal congestion, this could be a sign of common allergies. We recommend calling your provider if you suspect you may have the virus
  • Treatment: Providers are currently treating the symptoms of COVID-19, including a variety of interventions to reduce wheezing, coughing, and fever. Mostly time helps heal most cases. For the more severe cases, the virus stiffens your lungs, which is treated by putting people on ventilators.  
  • Immunity: Researchers are still investing how immunity to COVID-19 works. We do not know enough currently to fully answer this. If it behaves like the flu, it could mutate or change each year, which would mean immunity may not occur.
  • Who is High-Risk:
    • Anyone who is immunocompromised is considered high risk. This includes older adults and persons with serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes, respiratory illness, and heart disease.
    • Persons who are pregnant are also considered immunocompromised. We advise working closing with you OBGYN to implement safety precautions. If you are planning to visit a NICU or labor & delivery area of a hospital, we recommend calling the hospital before you go as many hospitals have put in place visitor restrictions. Learn more: CDC Info for Pregnancy
  • Phase I Healthcare Services Reopening

How to be Prepared

    • Stay Calm & Plan On: This is a time to make plans and learn what we need to do to take preventive steps and precautions that will keep us as safe and healthy as possible. Panic will stress the resources of our community and negatively impact our mental health (see below for mental health resources). We need to be informed using responsible sources and create plans that include our mental and physical health.
    • Hand Hygiene:
      • Wash hands for 20 seconds with warm soap and water. Do not shake hands with others.
      • Sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue (dispose immediately in trash can)
    • Social Distancing:
      • The CDC is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing as people can be carriers and not display any symptoms.
      • Stay 6ft apart from other individuals (approx. the wide of your arm span) and avoid being in crowded places.
      • Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has issued a "Healthy at Home" executive order 
    • Learn about the CDC recommendations to limit events of 50 or more individuals
    • When to Self-Quarantine:
      • Self-quarantining means that you do not leave the house. If you do have to leave the house, be sure to practice social distancing.
      • We recommend consulting with your primary care provider to determine the level of social distancing that is best for you. Ultimately, if staying home will make you feel safer and less stressed, we recommend making plans to allow for this.
    • Masks: The CDC is now recommending a universal mask policy. Learn about CDC recommendations for cloth face coverings here. This means that individuals are encouraged to wear a mask when out in public. Please do not hoard medical or industrial masks. There is a shortage of the masks needed for healthcare providers and individuals who are ill. 

View CDC Instructions for Making Mask          Video for Making Simple Mask

  • Caregiving During Coronavirus
  • Strengthen Your Immune System: In addition to washing our hands and practicing social distancing, taking care of our immune system is critical to staying healthy. You can do this through good nutrition, including a plant based diet, exercise (2.5 hours per week), good sleep hygiene (removing electronics from where you sleep, spending a half hour relaxing before bed), and managing you stress levels through mindfulness activities. 
  • Be aware of food resources
    • Food program for older adults with Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Resilience & Community
    • Call the hotline for updated locations & dates: 502-574-5223.
  • Long-term care policy

What to Do if You Think You Have the Virus

  • Review CDC Resources for “What To Do if You Are Sick
  • Learn about the difference between:
  • When to Do to the ER:
    • Most people are able to recover at home. People are being discouraged from going to the hospital unless absolutely necessary as we want to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
    • If you suspect you might have COVID-19, we recommend the following steps:
      • Call your healthcare provider immediately.
      • At the Republic Bank Optimal Aging Clinic, we are now practicing telemedicine. With this, we will be able to help monitor your condition and treat the condition safely at home. A telehealth consult with our clinic will help be sure you are receiving the care you need without putting undue stress on our ER system. We can walk you through what is the best option for you.
      • Working closely with your provider will allow them to tell you when it is time to go to your ER of choice.
  • Kentucky has begun drive-thru testing. Learn about KY COVID-19 drive-thru testing.
    Be aware are scams related to drive-through testing.

Managing Chronic Conditions and Other Routine Health Issues

  • Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic Patients:
    • We are launching robust telemedicine offering that will allow us to monitor your health remotely.
    • Our clinic is now only open for in-person visits from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm. Please note: as we have a limited team on-site during these times, patients may not be able to see their provider of choice. If you are coming for an in-person visit, we are following UofLHealth guidelines to close our waiting room. You will be asked to wait in your car until the time of your appointment. 
    • We are unable to provide COVID-19 tests at our clinic. We do not have the proper safety equipment to offer this. Calling ahead will help us ensure the best steps are taken to ensure your health and safety.
    • Please call our office before coming, especially if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms so our team can best prepare to assist you.
    • If you are not a current patient but would like to schedule a consult, make an appointment here and let us know in the notes if you suspect you may have the virus.
    • Labs: Our clinic has one of the few labs that is still open at UofL Health. Should your provider determine you need labs, we will be able to provide this service.
    • We are also communicating directly with our current patients through the ULP patient portal “ULP FollowMyHealth.”
  • Managing Chronic Illness: At our clinic, we plan to continue all regular health monitoring and support through telehealth for the next few months. We are also still open for in-person visits if necessary. If you are unsure what will work for you, please call us at 502-588-4340.
  • Controlled Substances: If you are prescribed controlled substances (such as certain pain medications), Kentucky law requires a face-to-face visit with your provider every two months. At our clinic, we are able to provide these visits through our telehealth offerings. 
  • Dentist Visits: Some states are beginning to suspend all non-urgent care and elective surgery. For dentist visits, we recommend calling your dentist to ask what they are doing in response to COVID-19.

CarING for Older Adults Quarantined in Nursing Homes

Financial Difficulties Due to COVID-19

  • Unemployment: Kentucky is waiving the seven-day waiting period to claim unemployment insurance. If you have been laid off or are in quarantine, you may also be eligible for Kentucky unemployment benefits.  Learn more here
  • We recommended all Kentuckians review the possible benefits they may now be eligible for in the COVID-19 crisis. For information, view the official the official Team Kentucky resource guide (under the "Services" section) as well as the Kentucky Voices of Health information regarding unemployment, stimulus payments: Public Assistance Benefits.
  • Preventing coronavirus related scams: Scams are going around related to COVID-19. We recommend signing up for the Scam Alert run by the Office of the Attorney General.

Community & Social Services for Older Adults

Many essential community-based social services for older adults provided through Area Agencies on Aging are continuing during this time. All assistance programs (including Medicaid waivers) have been given a 3 month extension for re-certification. 

  • Home Care: Medicaid waivers for in-home services are continuing. 
  • Transportation: Transportation support for essential needs is continuing. 
  • Meals: Many older adults received congregate meals at their local senior center, which are now closed. Drive-through meal pick-up points are being set up throughout Kentucky for older adults to receive these meals. Meals on Wheels (home-delivered meal program) is also continuing. 
  • Long-Distance Caregiving: If you are caring for a loved one in another location, we recommend visiting eldercare.acl.gov - this website will help you find the Area Agency on Aging that can provide services to them. Their phone number is 1 (800) 677- 1116.
  • Senior Care Experts
    • Cara Montgomery, Social Worker.  Phone number 502-896-2316
  • Kentucky Voices of Health Resources: General COVID-19 Information and Public Assistance Benefits 

To learn how to access the support services available where you and/or your loved one live, we encourage you to contact your local Area Agency on Aging and your location Community Action Agency. View our COVID-19 Resource Guide to learn more. If you all one of your local resources, know they are experiencing high call volume but they will return your call in 24 - 48 hours. 

Reducing Anxiety: Self-Care & Mental Health

With all the uncertainty around COVID-19, many of us are experiencing high anxiety. Feeling “trapped” can also increase anxiety. We recommend some simple steps you can do to reduce your stress during this time:

  • Disconnect from social media and the news from time to time. Staying informed from reliable sources is critical – but being bombarded with information can increase our anxiety. We recommend finding a balance between staying informed and being kind to yourself.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Spend a few minutes meditating or journaling.
    • The UofL Trager Institute offers a free virtual mindfulness session. Learn more here
    • AcuBalance is offering telemedicine including guided meditations, breathing and relaxation exercises, and herbal pick-up/deliveries (note: AcuBalance is an official service partner of the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic at the UofL Trager Institute)
  • Maintain as much of a daily routine as possible that include home exercise, outdoor walks (while social distancing), good sleep habits, and a healthy diet.
  • Find creative ways to virtually connect with friends, loved ones, and others.
  • Create a goal for each day – perhaps a long-avoided task or project, or a skill you’ve always wanted to learn.
  • Start a quarantine daily ritual – such as starting a journal.
  • Connect with mental health providers practicing telehealth. At the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic, our team of mental health clinicians are already practicing telehealth and are ready to work with you to reduce your anxiety during this time.
  • If you are age 60 and over and are experiencing depressive symptoms, we are able to offer you a free program called "PEARLS" that works to alleviate these symptoms and help you tackle overwhelming issues.

We have recently written a blog dedicated to this topic with insights from our Director of Wellness. Click here to read more.

How You Can Help

Even while social distancing, there are many ways we can help each other during this time. With all of these recommendations, we urge you to always be mindful of social distancing precautions.

  • Louisville COVID-19 High-Risk Match Program (please note: this is an initiative run by private citizens and is not a formal program with Metro Louisville). 
  • The Co-Immunity Project: A Battle We Can Win – Together – Louisville Healthcare CEO Council
  • For those who are able, consider helping provide childcare to healthcare and other first responders
  • Family Tree Caregivers is expanding childcare supports
  • Help with local food drives
  • Check-in on neighbors with a phone call – even offer to help older neighbors with groceries and other essentials
  • Check with faith-based community – see if they have a list of individuals who are isolated that you can call or facetime
  • Support local restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery. Ordering directly from your favorite places and even purchasing gift cards for yourself or others to use later are great ways to help our local restaurants!

Please reach out to us if you have questions! Email us at [email protected] with your questions. We welcome 

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