Community FAQs Related to COVID-19 and CPR Training and Performance
Can I get COVID-19 from performing CPR?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the situation is rapidly evolving. Your risk is variable depending in part on your location. Some parts of the country have high rates of infection while others have lower rates of infection.
If someone’s heart stops and you are concerned the patient may have had respiratory symptoms, it is at your discretion to perform or not perform mouth-to-mouth based on your personal preference. It is still important to call 911 and find an AED.
Most AEDs will use voice commands to assist you through CPR as well. If you choose to perform breaths, you should use a barrier device such as a pocket mask or face shield to help protect yourself from COVID-19 and other illnesses.
Should I still do the breaths for CPR?
CPR with breaths is recommended for people who are CPR certified and who feel comfortable performing this action. Overall, compressions with breaths is the most effective CPR in saving lives. This is especially true in the following circumstances:
- children and infants
- people whose hearts have stopped due to drug overdose or drowning
- people with respiratory problems.
Breaths are really important for a child or infant whose heart has stopped; the cause of the stoppage is likely due to a respiratory issue.
Also, CPR for children or infants is often provided by a family member or a friend. You should strongly consider performing compressions and breaths if the child or infant is known to you.
As an alternative, Hands-Only CPR can be performed until help arrives if you are unsure about putting your mouth on another person’s mouth or have concerns the person may have COVID-19. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR in many cases.
If you choose to perform Hands-Only CPR, first call 911 and then push hard and fast in the center of the person’s chest until advanced help arrives. If you think the person may have COVID-19, please state your concerns to the emergency response dispatcher so everyone who responds can be aware of the potential for COVID-19 transmission.
Most importantly, do what is most comfortable for you.
Can I still use an AED?
Yes. Early AED use is still very important. Use the AED as directed. AED pads can be placed on the person’s chest as directed by the AED prompts. There are no additional directions due to the coronavirus pandemic, though the following procedures should be followed:
- Clean the AED after each use with simple disinfectant to kill the virus
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines
- Wear gloves
- Wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose
What is the situation with mass training events?
The American Heart Association supports following the existing recommendations for mass gatherings outlined on the World Health Organization website. In the U.S., please refer to the CDC recommendations, as well as the proposals and suggestions for FAQs for communities: COVID-19 and CPR training.
For additional guidance, national, state and local public health agencies often have the most current information on basic protective measures against COVID-19. Anyone who does not feel comfortable gathering for large events should not attend mass trainings. Anyone feeling ill should stay home.
What is the novel coronavirus? What is COVID-19?
The novel (or new) coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, and is a new disease that had not been previously seen in humans. The WHO named the disease as coronavirus disease 2019 and is abbreviated as COVID-19. The CO stands for corona, the VI stands for virus, the D stands for disease. COVID-19 is not the same as coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and that cause mild illnesses such as the common cold. There currently is no vaccine for COVID-19. (Source: CDC, accessed 7/6/2020.)
How does COVID-19 spread?
The situation regarding the spread of COVID-19 is still evolving. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (normally within six feet) or can possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms. (Source: CDC, accessed 7/6/2020).
Can I catch COVID-19 from surfaces?
The virus can survive for a short time on a variety of surfaces. It may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their hands, mouth or eyes. This is not believed to be the main way the virus spreads. There still remains much that is unknown about exactly how the virus spreads. (Source: CDC, accessed 7/6/2020).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to multiple sources, people infected with COVID-19 report the following symptoms: fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, new loss of taste or smell, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. This is not a complete list of symptoms. A person with COVID-19 can experience mild to severe symptoms.
People such as older adults and those with underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease are at greater risk of severe complications. Those with complications such as trouble breathing and persistent chest pain should seek emergency medical help.
How do I know how many people have COVID-19 in my community?
Many local and state media outlets report the daily number of infections in each county or locality. Your local public health department is likely to have current information on the number of cases in your region. The rates of COVID-19 vary by location and change quickly.
How does the CDC recommend I protect myself from contracting COVID-19?
The following recommendations are considered best practices as currently known to prevent getting COVID-19:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after being out in public
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if unable to wash with soap and water
- Avoid touching your hands to your mouth, eyes and nose
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick or who you do not know
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces
- Practice social distancing (six feet)
The CDC now recommends wearing face masks when in public, though this is not a substitute for social distancing. Cloth masks help reduce the spread of germs, especially from those who are infected. Everyone plays a role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. You should always cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and should self-quarantine if you suspect you have come in contact with someone who has the disease. You should stay home if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 and call your local health professional for guidance. (Source: CDC, accessed 7/6/2020)