Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of 7 known viruses that may cause illness in animals and humans. There are several coronaviruses that are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from symptoms similar to the common cold to severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The COVID-19 coronavirus is the most recently discovered in Wuhan China.
COVID-19 in the United States
COVID-19 has spread to the United States and has caused people to become ill, and in severe cases, deaths. While most of the confirmed cases have been from people who have traveled internationally to countries with a lot of cases of COVID-19, there has been some community spread reported in the U.S. “Community spread” means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. The numbers are growing every day.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. In more severe cases people suffer from pneumonia. These symptoms usually start mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How does Coronavirus Spread?
The virus spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with the COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets land on objects such as counters, tables, desks, etc. Others catch the virus by touching these objects, then touch her eye, nose or mouth. It is also possible to inhale the droplets that another person has just coughed directly which is why it is important to stay at least 3 feet from a person infected with the COVID-19 virus.
How to Protect Against the Spread of COVID-19?
The best way to prevent getting the virus is to avoid being exposed to the virus. This is not always an easy thing as people need to go to work, school and perform other daily activities among the general public.
Everyday prevention actions to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 include:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Hand sanitizers can be used if soap and water is not available. The sanitizer should have at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay at home if you are sick.
- Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and dispose of them in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a cleaning spray or wipe.
- The CDC has not recommended that people wear a facemask to protect against COVID-19.
- Masks should only be used by people who show symptoms to help prevent the spread.
What to Do if You are Sick
If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you have the virus follow these steps.
- Stay home – Most people who have a mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside of your home, except for getting medical attention.
- Avoid the public – You should not go to work, school, or public places.
- Avoid public transportation – Avoid using any form of public transportation such as planes, trains, busses, ridesharing, or taxis.
- Stay away from others – Stay away from others as much as possible even people living in your home. A sick individual should stay in a specific room and away from others.
- Limit contact with animals and pets – You should restrict contact with pets any animals while you are sick with COVID-19.
Do not go to the doctor’s office or emergency room.
- Call ahead. – If you believe you have the virus or feel you need to be tested for COVID-19 call your doctor’s office. This will help the healthcare providers’ office take steps to keep others from getting infected and reduce possible exposure.
Wear a facemask.
You should wear a facemask when you are around others and if you go out to the doctor’s office.
Monitor your symptoms.
It is important that if your symptoms are worsening or you are having difficulty breathing, you seek medical attention right away. Call your healthcare provider so they can help evaluate you before you go into the public for medical treatment.
If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatcher that you have or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before emergency medical services arrive.
People that are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow the instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals.
Is there a vaccine or medicine I can get for COVID-19?
Not yet, because COVID-19 is a new disease. However, many experts are at work developing one. As with any new vaccine, it must be tested to make certain it is safe and effective. It may take more than a year for a COVID-19 vaccine to become readily available. There is also no specific medicine currently available to cure COVID-19. However, people who have COVID-19 should seek medical care to help lessen the severity of their symptoms.
How can I be more prepared for COVID-19?
- Have an adequate supply of nonprescriptive drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough, and cold medicines.
- Check your regular prescription drugs to make sure you have an adequate supply. Refill your prescriptions if needed.
- Have a thermometer, tissues and hand sanitizer in case you become ill and must stay at home to recover.
- Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick and what will be needed to care for them at home.
- Have a two-week supply of water and food available at home.
Other Things to Know
- Viruses do not target people from specific ethnicities or racial backgrounds.
- Keep informed – stay in touch with local news from official sources regarding the spread and updates on the coronavirus. There is a lot of misinformation circulating online. Follow a reliable source such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or local health departments.