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Published on April 03, 2020

5 Tips for High Risk Patients to Protect Themselves from Coronavirus

Our local community continues to rise above the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, intertwining practices of social distancing and universal masking into daily routines.  While restrictions are slowly being lifted in our region, for those who are at high risk for COVID-19, this remains an especially challenging and anxiety-provoking time.

In a recent podcast for the American Diabetes Association, entitled Diabetes Core Update – COVID-19 Update: March 2020, John J. Russell, MD, chair, Department of Family Medicine and director, Family Medicine Residency Program, Abington – Jefferson Health, provides advice for high risk patients to protect themselves.

“Certainly this seems to be a disease that is causing many more problems with the elderly,” says Dr. Russell. “It is also a risk to have diabetes, hypertension and other chronic illnesses. But certainly, we are seeing young people getting sick, too.”

Now that our area is in the “yellow,” here are five tips to keep yourself healthy:

1. Stay Informed

The first tip to protecting yourself is to stay informed. The best way to prevent getting the illness, is to avoid exposing yourself to the virus.

“Be really careful with what you are seeing on social media,” Dr. Russell warns. “People get a little bit of information and run with it. It is not necessarily fact and people are reacting to that.”

When you are looking for information on COVID-19, make sure to tune into reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local healthcare networks and your primary care physician.

2. Social Distancing

As the virus is spread through droplets from person to person, it is important to adhere to the rules of social distancing. Especially now that the local area is in the “yellow,” putting distance between yourself and others by keeping a six-foot radius around yourself while out in public is essential. Keep in mind that the lifting of guidelines does not mean that the virus is eradicated. What is considered safe for others may not be safe for those who are at high risk.

3. Perform Hand Hygiene Often

Whether you are around people or not, make sure you are performing frequent hand hygiene. This means regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that has more than 60 percent alcohol.

4. Use Precautions

As the local area begins to move out of the “red” phase, people will now be faced with new decisions about visiting public places. While some restrictions are being lifted in the “yellow” phase, it’s important to still take precautions.  To ensure you are keeping yourself and others safe, continue to limit your travel and stay home whenever possible to avoid possible exposure and help prevent the spread of the virus. If you are at high risk, or live with someone who is at high risk, it’s especially important to continue to limit your travel and exposure to large crowds. 

5. Connect with JeffConnect

If you are at high risk for COVID-19 or feeling under the weather, connect with an Abington – Jefferson Health physician through JeffConnect, our telehealth service.

“I think during this time of pandemic, our patients with diabetes, chronic illnesses and respiratory illnesses should probably not be coming into doctors’ offices,” advises Dr. Russell. “Especially those with diabetes coming in to go over blood sugars or a patient who wants to discuss symptoms. These situations really lend themselves to telehealth.”

JeffConnect is the faster and easier way to see a doctor. Without leaving your home, connect with a doctor using the latest video technology through your cell phone, tablet or computer with a webcam. Schedule your appointment or get a consultation today at

As we adjust to the “yellow” phase, it is important for everyone to do their part to contain the spread. Take the necessary steps to not only protect yourself, but others around you.

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