What is a Coronavirus?
Human Coronaviruses as a whole are by no means new. In fact, most people have likely had coronavirus at some point in their life; as these viruses typically cause mild respiratory illnesses like the common cold. So, what is the difference with COVID-19? It appears that this particular coronavirus likely started in bats. In the past, the coronaviruses that have originated in animals and then spread to humans have caused more significant illnesses. The two prior coronaviruses to start in this particular manner were SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003 and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome), which surfaced in 2012. The COVID-19 virus is “novel” meaning that until December 2019, this strain had not been identified in humans.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms-ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Reported symptoms include fever or chills, cough, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, and even shortness of breath. If you have of the above symptoms, call your medical provider for guidance on where to be evaluated. Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Click here for additional information on Coronavirus symptoms from the CDC.
If you or your loved one is having symptoms
Contact your primary care doctor to see when and where you should be tested
Try to isolate from other household members as much as possible.
For an update on COVID-19 and Frequently Asked Questions about testing click here
Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?
No vaccine is currently available at this time because this is a “new” strain of coronavirus. While scientists have already been able to unpack this virus genome or structure, it takes time to develop a vaccine. In general, vaccines can take anywhere from 6-18 months to be developed and go through the testing and approval process. It would be very unlikely to see a vaccine developed for COVID-19 anytime within the near future.
Tips for what YOU can do
Wash your hands
We cannot stress enough how important good hand hygiene is to reduce the spread of all viruses. Wash your hands frequently and for longer than you think (at least 20 seconds).
Call your doctor
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
Wear a mask when going out in public
A common misconception is that you wear a mask to protect yourself only.
By wearing a mask, you are actually protecting all those around you.
If you happen to be infected with the virus, wearing a mask contains the virus and prevents you from exposing others to it.
If everyone wore a mask when going out in public, we would minimize exposure to others in the community and potentially mitigate continued spread.
Wear your mask correctly; it should cover your nose and mouth and fit securely under your chin.
Honor Social Distancing
Social distancing is intended to physically keep people away from each other to help stop the spread of a virus or other contagious disease. By limiting social interaction, it prevents sick people from coming in contact with healthy people and spreading illness.
Stay at home as much as possible, especially if you’re over the age of 60.
Keep 6 to 10 feet away from other people.
Avoid crowded areas.
Work remotely, if possible.
Limit or avoid travel.
Avoid handshakes, hugging and kissing.
Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels or bedding.
Stay home if you’re sick until your doctor clears you to leave. Even if your symptoms are mild, this helps prevent you from passing the virus to others who may be at higher risk of serious complications.
Follow everyday health habits
Avoid contact with people who are sick
Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
Avoid touching your face