The novel coronavirus currently impacting many parts of the world is a unique, highly infectious disease. We want you to have as much information to keep safe and healthy. So what should you know about COVID-19?
What is the novel coronavirus?
The current virus is just one of many types of human coronaviruses, including those that also cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new type of this disease previously not seen in humans, and gets its name from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) best practice for naming of new human infectious diseases. These respiratory illnesses can affect everyone, but those with underlying conditions such as autoimmune disorders, the elderly, people with asthma, etc., are more susceptible to the disease and can experience more severe symptoms.
On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced that the official name of the virus, first identified in Wuhan, China, as Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19, or coronavirus, is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily through droplets from an infected person, generally from coughs or sneezes, or via saliva or discharge from the nose.
There are several ways to help protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Utilize an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching surfaces if unable to wash them
- Refrain from touching your face
- Wear a mask when in public
- Observe social distancing guidelines to create a 6ft space between you and other individuals
The coronavirus in its current form is spreading from person-to-person, and appears to be spreading easily and sustainably in communities (“community spread”) in large parts of geographic areas worldwide. When a disease is experiencing community spread, it means people have been infected in a certain area, including those not sure how or where they became infected.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
People who have contracted COVID-19 have reported symptoms that range from asymptomatic to severe. It can also lead to death in severe cases, especially in patients with underlying conditions and those suffering from immunodeficiency. Also, older people, in general, have been found to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
Coronavirus symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses), and can include:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
Should you get tested?
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to call your health care professional for guidance, especially if your condition begins to worsen.
In the early stages of infection, it is possible that even getting a test will not return positive results.
For COVID-19, a negative test result for a person that has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness.
It’s important to note that not everyone should or needs to be tested for the COVID-19. If you think you might need to get tested, or are worried about seeking additional care, here are some things to consider:
- Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
- There is currently no approved pharmaceutical treatment or vaccine for this virus.
How to get tested for coronavirus
The CDC does have specific guidelines for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are currently being made at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual health care providers.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 and want to find out if you need to get tested, try calling your state or local health department or a medical provider as a first step. While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.
How to protect yourself
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips on how to protect yourself and potentially avoid infection on our Flourish blog. Learn more about what you need in your home and what to do at the store to limit your exposure to stay healthy.
Flourish Blog: Tips to Avoid Covid-19