Coronavirus (COVID-19), the new name for the disease being caused by the recent coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 is all over the news. You may hear one thing from one source, then hear the opposite thing from another source. That makes it hard to know what’s true. Read the following to get the real facts about the disease.
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What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. It was first reported in China in December 2019. Because this is a new disease, doctors are still learning about it. You can expect them, along with other health experts, to provide new information about it frequently.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a person to have a fever when he or she has a measured temperature of at least 100.4 °F [38 °C]. These symptoms may occur 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. Most people who come down with COVID-19 have mild symptoms. These symptoms can make you feel like you have the flu. However, some people have more severe symptoms. In these cases, the virus may lead to pneumonia.
How do people get Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The most common way to get COVID-19 is by inhaling respiratory droplets in the air. When a person with COVID-19 coughs and sneezes, tiny droplets leave their mouth and nose and go into the air. You can’t see these droplets. If you’re within 6 feet of that person, you may breathe in those droplets. You won’t even know you’ve done it. But by doing that, you may get the germs that cause COVID-19 in your body.
COVID-19 also can be shared if you touch a surface an infected person has touched. Some examples include door handles, elevator buttons and shopping carts. The germs can get into your body if you then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Who is likely to get Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
While there are many cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, the overall risk of getting sick with it in the United States is still low for now. However, some people have a greater risk of becoming sick. Those include:
- Travelers returning from international areas where there is a high concentration of COVID-19 cases.
- People in contact with travelers returning from international areas where there is a high concentration of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
- People in close contact with someone who has Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Most of the people who are getting sick with Coronavirus (COVID-19)9 are adults. While some children have become infected with it, too, most of them have had milder symptoms than adults.
If people 65 years old and older get Coronavirus (COVID-19), they’re more likely to have a severe case. Likewise, people who have health issues, such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are also at risk of getting a severe case.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) compared to influenza
Around the world, more than 100,000 people (as of the date of this article) so far have had Coronavirus (COVID-19). In comparison, at least 22 million people in the United States have had influenza this season.
Family Physicians write a “Prescription for America” to just stay home.
Things to consider
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and nervous when thinking about Coronavirus (COVID-19). Here are some steps you can take to keep your stress under control.
- Talk with your family doctor. Ask him or her what you should or shouldn’t be doing. He or she also may suggest ways you can help your kids deal with any stress they’re feeling, too.
- Wash your hands frequently. This will help get rid of viruses and other germs on your hands. If you’re not near soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains between 60% and 95% alcohol.
- Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth. These are the locations where a virus can enter your body.
- The CDC now recommends that everyone wear a cloth mask in public, even if you don’t feel sick. This prevents you from spreading the virus. The masks should cover your mouth and nose. Even with the mask, continue to keep 6 feet between you and others.
- Stay healthy. Eat a balanced diet. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise. Don’t use tobacco products or alcohol to deal with your stress.
- Get your news from trusted sources. Make sure the online news articles you read are from a trusted news-based organization. Aside from your doctor, you can trust information from the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the World Health Organization. You can also rely on news presented by your local or state public health agency.
- Don’t panic. You can do this by staying informed and knowing the facts.
If you or someone in your family begins to feel sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Call your doctor. He or she will advise what you should do next. If you or someone in your family develops a fever, cough, and has trouble breathing, call your doctor right away or go to the emergency room.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Am I at risk for getting Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- How will I know if I have Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- Is there a test for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- Is there a vaccine for Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- Can my children get Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- Is it safe to travel within the United States by bus, train, or airplane?
- Is it safe to be in a large crowd?
- Do I need to wear a mask or rubber gloves in public?
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This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.