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Prevent severe illness: Get tested and treated early for COVID-19

By Dr. Nancy Zidek, CHCS Chief of Medical Staff

Community HealthCare System has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in our area in recent weeks. We want to make sure our patients know that early testing combined with effective treatment of COVID-19 can prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and other poor outcomes.

If you or a loved one develop any of the symptoms of COVID-19 and have ANY of the risk factors, you should get tested as soon as possible. Community HealthCare System offers testing in Onaga, St. Marys, Frankfort, Westmoreland, Holton, and Centralia. Find contact information. Please call your provider for testing during daytime hours.

If you experience serious symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Serious symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Loss of speech or movement

Early treatment of COVID-19 has been shown to be effective at reducing hospitalizations and death. If you have symptoms, test positive, or know that you have been exposed, please contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible during business hours to discuss treatment options, especially if you are at high risk. Administration of monoclonal antibodies is one treatment that CHCS has used with great success.

We are here to help. If you are sick, please let us help you get on the road to recovery. Learn the symptoms and risk factors, get tested early, and call your clinic for an appointment before your illness progresses. If you know or suspect you have COVID-19, please call before visiting your doctor or healthcare facility.


Take a moment to review the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 along with the risk factors for severe disease.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. They include:  

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Risk factors for severe disease, hospitalization, and death include:

  • Age 65 years or older
  • Overweight or obese
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Immunosuppressive disease or treatment
  • Heart or circulatory conditions (high blood pressure, heart failure, etc.)
  • Chronic lung diseases (COPD, asthma, etc.)
  • Sickle cell disease


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