Coronavirus and COVID-19
Understanding Coronavirus and COVID-19
Coronaviruses are a group of common viruses and usually cause mild-to-moderate respiratory illnesses.
The outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012 were caused by coronaviruses.
Influenza is a completely different virus than coronavirus.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
Symptoms of this infection may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and, in severe cases, pneumonia.
Most people with COVID-19 will have some respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
Since COVID-19 disease is caused by a new virus, people do not have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be at least a year away.
Stay healthy and protect others
- COVID-19 spreads in two ways: when an infected person coughs or sneezes; and when a person touches a surface that has the virus on it and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. To combat both ways of getting COVID-19, you need to avoid other people and wash your hands - a lot.
- Limiting your contact with others to help prevent the spread of disease is a practice known as social distancing. Avoid places with more 10 people, limit contact with people outside of your nuclear family, keep at least 6 feet away from people who do not live with you, and stay home as much as you can.
- When you enter your home or another building, handle food, eat, or use the restroom, wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap. Make sure to rinse and fully dry your hands before touching anything else.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (with an alcohol concentration of at least 70%) are not as effective as diligent hand-washing, so think of them as a stop-gap solution for when you can't wash your hands. If you can, clean your phones, keyboards, doorknobs, steering wheel, and other frequently-used items with disinfectant wipes.
I feel sick...now what?
Stay home and call a online doctor medical professional. You'll answer a few questions:
Do you have fever, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath?
Are you a health care worker who has provided care to patients with symptoms of COVID-19?
Have you traveled in the last 14 days? If so, where?
Have you been near someone with presumptive or known COVID-19?
Since COVID-19 testing is not broadly available, the testing guidelines are evolving rapidly.
- Talking to a medical professional is the best way to understand the next steps you should take if you feel ill. Do not visit urgent care or the emergency room, as you may expose yourself to those who are sick or unknowingly spread the virus to others.
If you are tested, you should remain in self-quarantine until the result is back. If the test result is positive, you should isolate for a few weeks at home while you recover - even if you have no symptoms.