NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The U.S. hit more than 120,000 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, and more that 1,200 deaths. It’s happening as flu season approaches.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Friday, it’s important to know when to go to the doctor or hospital, and when not to.

While both this coronavirus and the flu can cause serious illness, hospitalization and even death, there are many cases mild enough to be cared for at home. That keeps hospital beds available for really serious cases as well as non-COVID or non-flu patients.

Flu and coronavirus have similar symptoms at the start and are nearly impossible to tell apart without testing.

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You should call you healthcare provider if you suspect either illness because testing and treatment are very different for the two. Still, you may be able to stay home with either disease.

“People with milder cases of influenza or COVID should pay attention to staying hydrated, monitor their temperature, monitor their breathing, get some rest and, obviously, isolate,” said Dr. Susan Rehm of the Cleveland Clinic.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

While there aren’t any approved outpatient treatments for COVID-19, there is a national clinical trial called ColCorona that treats and monitors COVID patients at home.

Then, there are prescription antiviral medicines available to treat the flu, if you start them quickly.

With either virus, it’s important to recognize signs of distress and when to seek immediate help.

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“People should consider going to the emergency room or calling their doctor if they have severe shortness of breath, confusion, productive cough – meaning bringing up a lot of sputum with coughing – or any other symptom that’s causing them distress that they can’t take care of themselves at home,” said. Dr. Rehm.

Prevention is much better than treatment. That means getting your flu shot right away and wearing a mask at all times in public.

By the way, masks will help prevent the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu.

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