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Steps You Can Take to Avoid Catching the New Coronavirus

You may have heard that a new virus is spreading around the world. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (aka COVID-19) has infected more than 105,000 people around the world. Most (80,000+) are in China, where the disease first turned up. More than 3,500 people globally have died of the virus. As of Monday, March 9, 545 people have been treated for coronavirus in the United States. But the possible public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high both globally and here in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization. And from day to day, the numbers keep changing.

The good news is that 4 in 5 cases (or more than 80 percent) are not severe cases, according to a large Chinese study. That means some people experience what feels like a mild cold and then it goes away. Or a small sore throat. And two days later they feel fine. Cases defined as mild did not involve pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, or only mild pneumonia.

The bad news is that mild symptoms can make it harder to control the spread of a potential epidemic. And you should know that those who are older or with underlying health conditions face a higher risk of more severe symptoms.

This new COVID-19 virus is a bit of a mystery.  We do not know everything about it yet. We don’t have a vaccine yet. It’s possible that it may spread from people who haven’t shown symptoms yet and therefore don’t even know they have it. While there have been such reports, it’s not considered the main way the virus spreads.

We want all of our caregivers, families, and individuals to know that you can take precautions to avoid getting sick. While not everything is known about this new coronavirus, the better educated you are on what’s known will help protect you and loved ones in our community.

 

Q: What are symptoms of this new virus?

A: Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Among confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 cases, those with reported illnesses have experienced everything from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

Q: How can I avoid catching this virus?

A: The most important thing you can do is wash your hands often, preferably with soap and water, rubbing all surfaces of the hands for 20 seconds (imagine singing “Happy Birthday” 3 times fast).  

Q: How should I prepare for a possible outbreak?

A: Keep a 30-day supply of essential medicines. Get a flu shot. Keep essential household items in stock. Have a support system in place for older family members. 

Q: How quickly do the symptoms appear?

A: The CDC believes that symptoms may appear in as little as 2 days or take as long as 14 days after exposure to show up.

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: The virus is thought to spread mostly from person-to-person. It can spread between people who are in close contact, or within 6 feet of each other. It spreads via droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Q: Can I catch it from touching certain contaminated surfaces or objects?

A: It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that the virus landed on and then touching your own mouth, nose, or maybe even your eyes. But this is not considered the main way the virus spreads.

Q: When does the virus spread?

A: People are thought to be the most contagious when their symptoms are the worst (and they’re feeling the sickest).

Q: How do you know if you’ve got COVID-19?

A: You would know if you had COVID-19, if you tested positive for the virus. The test involves taking nasal and mouth swabs.

Q: What should you do if you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes it?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following if you are sick or think you are infected with COVID-19:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Wear a facemask when you are sharing a room or vehicle with other people or pets.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains between 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they are dry. If hands are visibly dirty, soap and water are better.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, cups, forks, towels, or bedding with others in your home.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Family and caregivers should clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day. These include tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Clean any surfaces that get bodily fluids or stool on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Monitor the sick person’s symptoms. Seek prompt medical attention if the illness is getting worse. For example, an individual might experience difficulty breathing.

Stay safe and take care!

Learn more:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on COVID-19

Most Coronavirus Cases Are Mild. That’s Good and Bad News.
Video: 20 Seconds of Handwashing Could Save Your Life

Video: How to Disinfect Your Home

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