What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In an effort to provide helpful and accurate information on the Coronavirus (COVID-2019), it’s symptoms and ways to protect yourself, we have assembled the following factual information, including links to helpful resources – all of this information comes from either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus:

What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. (World Health Organization)

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 was a pandemic. A Pandemic, according to WHO, is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

More severe symptoms may develop in some people.  If you develop these emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to rouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning. (CDC)

Who are the most vulnerable to Coronavirus?

Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones. (WHO)

Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

It is important for us all to come together and take steps to reduce the spread, especially for those at higher risk.

How is the Coronavirus Spread?

  1. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • 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 or 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; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
  2. Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
    • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. (CDC)

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family Against COVID-19

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Here are suggestions to follow to avoid exposure:

  1. Clean Hands:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
    • Watch this. What You Need to Know About Hand Washing Video - 2:00
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid close contact
    • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. Follow community guidelines for size of gatherings. Maintain 6 feet of separation. Take these steps to protect others as much as yourself and stop the spread.
    • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
    • Throw used tissues in the trash.
    • Immediately wash your hands.
  5. Wear a face mask if you are sick
    • If you have access to one, you should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
    • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face mask. Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
  6. Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
    • This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    • Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
    • To disinfect use any common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work or make a bleach solution of 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. (CDC)

Conclusion

Educating ourselves on the Coronavirus (COVID-2019) and how to best protect ourselves and others is one of the most important things we can do. We are all in this together. Let’s look out for one another and do all we can to stop the spread.
Here are more helpful links for important information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19):

  1. Combating COVID-19 | The White House 
  2. WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard (Global Map)
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Myth Busters

If you are feeling anxious about all that is currently happening in the world, please visit Coronavirus: How to Cope with Fear and Anxiety

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