As the coronavirus creeps closer to our region of the country, media coverage and public concern continue to increase. Not that we shouldn’t be concerned, but we should separate the hype from the facts and focus on preparation and prevention as a way of dealing with the outbreak.
What do we know?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to be a serious public health threat. As a result, an informational web page has been set up to educate the public on the disease and its spread.
How it spreads. The coronavirus spreads mainly from person-to-person, meaning between people in close contact with one another (within a 6-foot radius) and through droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and it lands in someone’s nose or mouth. The CDC also believes its possible COVID-19 can be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your nose mouth or eyes.
Symptoms. The coronavirus is a respiratory disease that causes fever, cough and shortness of breath. It can cause either a mild illness similar to a cold or it can cause the infected to develop pneumonia. Symptoms of the coronavirus don’t appear until 2-14 days after exposure.
Where has it spread? In the United States, there have been 43 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in 10 states — Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Of those cases, 17 have been hospitalized and two have resulted in death.
There is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to avoid being infected is to avoid exposure. Here are some recommendations from the CDC to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Then discard the tissue.
- Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
- The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- The CDC recommends facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease. The use of facemasks is also crucial for healthcare workers and anyone caring from someone else in a close setting (at home or in a health care facility).
- Frequently, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. However, soap and water should always be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid nonessential travel to China.
Avoid spreading the coronavirus
If you spent time in China during the past 14 days and are showing signs of symptoms — fever, cough or difficulty breathing — follow these tips from the CDC:
- Call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or emergency room to tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Don’t use public transportation including, train, bus, subway or airplane.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing instead of your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%-95% alcohol. Always disinfect your hands immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Wear a facemask to prevent spreading your illness.
At this time, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. It is recommended that people with COVID-19 receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms and in severe cases treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
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