What is COVID 19
What is this Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
The World Health Organization (WHO) published this video which helps answer many common questions about the origin and spread of the virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms are similar to those of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Because of the similarity to flu symptoms, the CDC is recommending that people who have recently traveled or been in contact with someone who has recently traveled outside of the U.S. and starts experiencing these symptoms to contact a health professional for guidance.
What should I do if I or someone I care for is sick?
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, are over the age of 60, or have an underlying medical condition like heart, lung, or kidney disease, and develop a fever and syptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately. If you are young, otherwise healthy, and have not been in contact with someone who have COVID-19 or recently traveled to a country with a high rate of COVID-19, stay home and treat your symptoms as you would with a common cold.
More information from the CDC here.
Is COVID-19 fatal?
While people have died from COVID-19 in the United States and abroad, the majority of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 do recover. The virus appears to only be severe if it reaches the lungs and remains untreated. Most otherwise healthy people can recovery from COVID-19 at home.
Are there confirmed COVID-19 cases in my community?
The CDC has made a map available to the public with information about confirmed COVID-19 cases by state. For specific information about confirmed cases in the State of Wisconsin, click here. Regardless of whether there is an active outbreak in your community, you should wash your hand thoroughly, cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, and stay home if experiencing cold or flu symptoms when at all possible.
Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19?
Older adults and people who have severe chornic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness.
There is not currently information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. In fact, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reportd from China have occurred in adults. Infections in children have been reported, including in very young children. There is an ongoing invesitgation to determine more about this outbreak.
More information about risk from the CDC available here.
How does the virus spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) with one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest) but some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.
It may also 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.
More information about transmission from the CDC here.
Should I cancel my travel plans?
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19. If you have a trip planned, check the CDC’s site for a risk assessment of your destination and follow guidance provided about self-quarantining upon return. If you travel, take the same precautions you would while home to avoid getting sick or spreading germs including washing your hands thoroughly and often and avoiding contact with sick people. If you are returning or have returned from traveling abroad, visit the State Department’s website detailing requirements by origin country.
I saw an ad for a vaccine – are vaccines available for COVID-19?
Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 – online or in stores.
How can I help?
The most helpful thing people can do is take extra precautions to avoid spreading germs. This includes thoroughly washing hands with warm water for at least 20 seconds, disinfecting common surfaces, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, avoid unnecessary contact such as shaking hands or giving high-fives, and staying home and away from others if sick. If you want to donate, identify and give locally to food pantries, shelters, and other basic needs organizations that might be seeing an increase in demand from people who need help.
How to prepare your home for coronavirus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling Americans that they should be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community. But what does preparedness look like in practice? The short answer: Don’t panic — but do prepare.
Is the flu shot helpful with Coronavirus symptoms?
No, there is no cross-protection whatsoever between the flu vaccine and coronavirus. It is recommended to get the flu vaccine, even yet, because the flu season is still marching on.
Should I be looking for facemasks/respirators?
People should not rush to buy facemasks. There is already a shortage and hospitals need them first.
How should I prepare?
It is a good idea to stock up on essential medication, supplies and non-perishable food. The first thing everyone should do is talk to your loved ones and make a plan.
What are they going to do if they get ill? Who will they call? How will they access the medical care system? Who is watching out for grandma?. Develop communication plans that include checking on people every day.