With COVID-19 continuing to spread across the U.S., it’s important to know how to care for yourself while out on the road. Here are some step-by-step recommendations about what to do if symptoms develop along your route and away from home.
Watch for symptoms
Having a cough or fever might feel like a cause for panic right now, but in most cases, experts say there is no reason to worry.
“The vast majority of [COVID-19] cases are going to be mild, and people are going to recover just like they do from a cold or flu-like illness,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in an interview with NBC News.
According the World Health Organization (WHO), the main symptoms of COVID-19 usually include:
- A dry cough
- Shortness of breath (in more severe cases)
Some patients may have “aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea,” the WHO adds.
What to do if you’re experiencing symptoms
All COVID-19 symptoms should be taken seriously and closely monitored. If you are worried you might be infected, contact a health care provider by phone or through a telehealth appointment. Seeking guidance is especially important if you’ve traveled to areas with widespread transmission or had close contact with someone who has COVID-19. If your symptoms are mild, health officials may advise treatment while self-isolating on the road or at home without visiting a clinic or hospital.
Recommended telehealth resources for truckers:
- National Association of Independent Truckers – Members receive no-cost consultations through the mobile app’s telemedicine service.
- TelaDoc – Request a consult via 800-835-2362, teladoc.com, or the organization’s mobile app.
- UrgentCare Travel – Find a list of the organization’s consult phone numbers here.
If there are factors that make you high risk for COVID-19, you should connect with your primary care provider as soon as symptoms begin. A doctor with knowledge of your medical history can best help you develop a treatment plan. High risk individuals include those over the age of 65 as well as anyone with underlying medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, or a compromised immune system due to illness or drug therapy.
If in-person medical treatment or testing is needed, urgent care facilities and hospitals are asking patients for advance notice of their arrival. They may have a special entrance they’d prefer you use and will likely present you with a face mask to wear, Dr. Adalja explained in an interview.
PLEASE NOTE: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ANYONE experiencing the following severe symptoms of COVID-19 should seek immediate medical attention:
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure on chest
- Confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Also, consult with a medical provider if you are experiencing any other severe or concerning symptoms.
What to do if you’re on the road and infected with COVID-19
If you’re on the road, and a medical provider agrees you may have COVID-19, head home if symptoms are mild and you can manage the trip. If, however, an immediate family member is more susceptible to the virus due to a pre-existing condition, you should get advice from a medical provider before returning home.
If you are too far away from home to make the drive safely or symptoms are too severe, use a telehealth service to locate the nearest health care provider. There are safe, long-term reserved parking options that can be found in a variety of locations through TruckPark.
Shortages are limiting the amount of COVID-19 tests being administered in the U.S. Laboratory tests are mainly reserved for those experiencing severe symptoms or those who’ve been linked to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. As the supply of tests slowly increases, some doctors are being given more discretion to order them, but this is not happening uniformly across the country.
Even if you have mild to moderate symptoms of the coronavirus, it’s still important to isolate at home, in your truck or in a hotel room and seek the guidance of a health care professional to determine if you’ll be tested.
Isolation and recovery
According to the CDC, the majority of people who contract COVID-19 will not stay in a hospital and will be asked to isolate themselves.
Most mild COVID-19 symptoms resolve on their own (similar to the flu), but it’s important to take care of your health. If you believe you have COVID-19 or have tested positive for the virus, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and alert your doctor if symptoms worsen or do not improve within a week.
If you are isolating at home with family, be sure to keep your distance. Stay in a separate room away from other people and pets as much as you can. Also, use a separate bathroom, if at all possible.
If you are isolating alone on the road, ask a friend, family member or fellow trucker to periodically call and check in on your welfare. Tell them to contact local law enforcement to check on you if their calls go unanswered. Make sure they know the exact location of where you are self-isolating. The “Truckers Helping Truckers COVID19 Resources and Buddy Watch” Facebook group is a great resource that helps match drivers in need of welfare checks with other drivers.
If you are parking at a truck stop, inform the business’ management. Some truck stops are supplying self-isolating drivers with envelopes to provide their staff with personal contacts and a key to access the truck in the case of an emergency.
When can you leave isolation?
According to the CDC, those with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 can leave isolation once these three milestones have been achieved:
– At least one week has passed since symptoms first appeared
– No fever for at least three days without the use of medicine that reduces fevers
– Other symptoms have also improved
The possibility of contracting COVID-19 can be daunting, but researchers and doctors are learning more about how to treat the disease and prevent its spread every day.
Also, remember, it’s important to take extra precautions to protect not only your health and safety, but also the health and safety of friends, family, coworkers and community members. We’re all in this together!
Sources: Coronavirus – World Health Organization, Overdrive, NBC News: Coronavirus, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC