What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

What is sometimes generically refered to as “Coronavirus” is officially known as COVID-19. It’s part of a larger family of different coronaviruses, many of which are quite common. For example, the common cold is caused by a coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of this type of virus. At first found only in animals, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is zoonotic. According to the CDC, this means that it can be transferred from animals to humans. There are a number of viruses of this nature, including bird flu, rabies, and zika. MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV are two other examples. In fact, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is also known as SARS-CoV2.

It’s unclear precisely how Coronavirus (COVID-19) jumped from an animal to humans, but we do know this happened at some point in November or December, in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) then spread through parts of mainland China and, eventually, became an official pandemic that’s impacted almost every nation on the planet.

How Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spread?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is mostly spread like the common cold: through person-to-person contact through liquid droplets expelled when someone coughs, sneezes, or even spittle from speaking. 

But, because Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads so easily, we’re all encouraged to socially distance and to wash our hands often and thoroughly. The best method is to wash with warm water and soap for 20 seconds, or roughly two rounds of “Happy Birthday.”

But Coronavirus can also linger in the air for a few hours, meaning it may be in the air, especially in the bathroom. Research in this regard is ongoing. We’ll keep you updated on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) news page

While surface-to-human transmission is low, a New England Journal of Medicine study found that the virus can live on various surfaces for various lengths of time. Here’s the rundown.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) can live on hard surfaces such as plastic, stainless steel, and glass for up to 72 hours, though it’s typically closer to 13 hours.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) can live on softer surfaces, such as cardboard, for 24 hours.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) can live on copper for 2 hours.

Additionally, people should regularly clean and disinfect their counters and other “high-touch” used surfaces, especially smartphones and computers, with an anti-bacterial cleaner as needed.

Don’t forget doorknobs, light switches and, of course, the bathroom.

(For more on how to protect yourself from Coronavirus (COVID-19), click here.)

Should I Wear a Mask?

The CDC now recommends that everyone wear a cloth mask when they go out in public. This doesn’t mean an N95 mask – those should be reserved for healthcare workers.

You can make a simple, no-sewing required cloth mask from a bandana, t-shirt, towel, or any other cloth, plus some rubber bands.

While woven materials with higher thread count are more effective, experts told NBC News that even lower quality materials can be good – just as long as there’s an added layer in the middle, preferably flannel.

Avoid knit, as they’re too porous.

And be sure to wash your masks regularly.

CNET also has tips on how to make your own masks, no sewing required.

What Are Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms?

Initial symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to those of a common cold, including:

According to the CDC and the World Health Organization, the initial symptoms for Coronavirus (COVID-19) include:

  • Fever
  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Body Aches
  • Tiredness/Lethargy
  • Headache

The initial symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

Unfortunately, these are the same symptoms many people experience with the common cold, or even seasonal allergies.

At any point these initial symptoms can morph into more serious ones that include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains or tightness
  • A persistent, dry cough
  • Bluish lips or face.

Two of these symptoms – dry cough and shortness of breath – are unique to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are serious warning signs. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, call or video chat with your doctor.

That said, not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Some infected people will have less symptoms, others will have more. Studies show the most vulnerable groups include people over 65 or with preexisting conditions, including immunodeficiencies, heart disease, and diabetes.

If you think you have Coronavirus (COVID-19) or have been exposed to someone who has been exposed, do a few things:

  • Stay home.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household.
  • Avoid contact with pets.
  • Consult your doctor or medical professional via telephone, video chat, or email.

Do not go to the hospital unless it is a true emergency, i.e. you are having trouble breathing. If you feel you need to go to the hospital, call ahead to make an appointment. This will let the staff prepare for your arrival by protecting themselves and other patients.

How Do I Prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As new and unsettling as Coronavirus (COVID-19) is, the good news is that it can be prevented via typical hygiene.

Wear a Mask: One of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent transmitting or catching coronavirus (COVID-19) is by wearing a mask in public. 

Wash Your Hands: It’s also essential wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.

Surfaces, Too: Also, clean surfaces that are frequently used, such as kitchen counters, smart phones, and computers. While transmission from such surfaces is low, it’s better safe than sorry!

Don’t Touch Your Face: To prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) avoid touching your face, as the virus can easily be transferred from hands to your face, where it can enter your body via the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Stay Home: Stay at home if at all possible. Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads fast and furious. By staying at home, you reduce your risk of becoming infected or potentially infecting others, especially vulnerable groups, like people over 60.

What is Social Distancing?

Social distancing means keeping at least 6 feet between yourself and other people outside your home, especially if that person is coughing or sneezing. (If you’re coughing and sneezing, stay home.) This is to help “flatten the curve,” or slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

While social distancing may be difficult, it’s vitally important because it prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) from being transmitted by liquid droplets, such as mucus from a sneeze or even the spittle we sometimes spray when speaking.

It’s also important to remember that social distancing does not mean avoid talking to people. We can all say hello and even hold conversations, just as long as we remember to maintain a safe, six-foot distance. This way we can maintain social bonds without feeding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

What's The Best Way to Wash Hands?

We all think we know how to wash our hands, but it’s always worth a reminder. Yes, a little bit of soap can go a long way, but it has to be used properly.

To achieve the best results, medical professionals suggest washing hands for a full 20 seconds.

To help you, this is two rounds of “Happy Birthday.” Simply sing that song to yourself as you wash, and you’ll be good to go.

Bonus Tip: Use hand moisturizer to prevent excess drying from handwashing. If you don’t have hand moisturizer, a little bit of olive oil will do the trick.

What is Flattening the Curve?

Viral infections like Coronavirus (COVID-19) can grow exponentially, but how fast infection spreads depends on the actions we all take right now.

By restricting public gatherings and encouraging self-quarantine for people with symptoms, we hope to flatten that curve by keeping the number of new infections at a manageable level.

In other words, we’re trying to slow the rate of transmission and infection so our hospitals can keep pace.

Without intervention, the growth will outpace our health systems’ ability to handle an influx of patients. But if we all do our part – wash hands, clean surfaces, and avoid public gatherings – we can slow the pace of infection to help hospitals can cope with patients.

These actions may not decrease the amount of people who are ultimately infected, but it will slow the pace of infection.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine, also sometimes called Telehealth, is the use of video and online chatting to communicate with your doctor. This can be done via Skype, FaceTime, or any other online chat service.

These services are convenient, private, and, most importantly, keep people safe: by using telehealth, people who have Coronavirus (COVID-19) can receive medical guidance without going into a hospital, doctor’s office, or any other place where they may spread the Coronavirus.

Note: If you believe you have coronavirus, do not go to the doctor’s office or hospital unless it’s a true emergency, i.e. you are having trouble breathing. We understand that’s a frightening thought, but your doctor can advise via online communications, helping you and helping others by keeping you safe at home.

How Do I Know When I'm Cured?

There’s currently no cure for Coronavirus (COVID-19), but there are ways to know when it’s passed through your system. According to the CDC, people are in the clear to end isolation when:

  • No Fever: You’ve had no elevated fever for 72 hours without taking fever medicine.
  • Overall Improvement: If your coughs or shortness of breath have improved over time, you’re on your way to recovery.
  • The Seven Day Rule: Even if you feel better in two days, always wait 7 days since your symptoms first appeared.