Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause various respiratory symptoms and illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory illnesses such as SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Think of Coronavirus as being a tree, with many branches, or subtypes, including the most recently named subtype, COVID-19 (short for Coronavirus Disease 2019).
COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China, and has since begun to spread. It has heavily affected the populations of China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea and continues to spread, as most viruses do.
Here are the Basics that you should know about COVID-2019 (Coronavirus Disease 2019):
- Am I at Risk?
The number of reported cases of COVID-19 are increasing daily in the United States. People who are in areas with larger outbreaks or who have visited areas are at higher risk for development. If you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, you are at a higher risk for development.
- How Severe is COVID-19?
Most people that contract COVID-19 will only have mild common cold and respiratory symptoms. We have observed that for children and younger adults the virus is relatively mild. Elderly adults and individuals with other serious health conditions (such as pre-existing lung disease, poorly controlled diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or immune suppression) are at higher risk for developing severe symptoms from Coronavirus 2019.
- How can we protect and prevent COVID-19? WASH YOUR HANDS frequently and for at least 20 seconds each washing. If you have respiratory symptoms, or are in contact with someone with respiratory symptoms, wear a mask, sneeze into your arm, cover your mouth when you cough, and continue washing your hands. Do not touch your face! Keep your fingers out of your eyes, nose, and mouth! Use hand sanitizers and wipe down any objects in frequent use with antibacterial cleansers. Stand at least 3 feet away from people that are coughing or sneezing when possible. Wearing more than one mask is not more effective. Smoking is more harmful and dangerous in the setting of Coronavirus.
- How is COVID-19 Treated? There are no antibiotics or antivirals to date to prevent or treat COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, rest, drink lots of water to avoid dehydration, try to continue eating even if appetite is poor, stay home and quarantine yourself to avoid spreading the illness, continue hygiene and prevention practices, and use supportive medications as needed (Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for fevers if necessary, Decongestants if appropriate, Cold and Cough medications if necessary). If you develop severe respiratory symptoms, seek medical attention right away and notify your healthcare provider before you go if possible.
- When should I seek medical care? Seek medical care if you have severe symptoms, difficulty breathing, fevers over 104F that will not resolve despite taking Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen, or if you develop symptoms such as wheezing, chest congestion that makes you feel short of breath, labored breathing, significant dizziness, or prolonged symptoms beyond 5-7 days.
Reliable Resources on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019):
WHO (World Health Organization)
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)