What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus
Here are some tips on preventing yourself from getting sick
With Coronavirus hitting the United States and the first deaths were reported this weekend many people have questions about what the virus is and how dangerous it will be. While the news focuses on the death toll, many Americans are wondering if they need to stay home from work, take their kids out of school, or cancel travel plans. To make sure that all of our readers understand what the coronavirus is we have put together some important facts below.
First off, the coronavirus is not related to Corona beer, as 38% of Americans believe. Instead, what we are calling Coronavirus is really known as COVID-19. Coronavirus refers to a larger family of viruses, that range in severity. These include mild illnesses like the common cold to extremely severe illnesses like SARS. COVID-19 is considered pretty severe but not as bad as SARS or MERS.
Many people are also concerned about how it spreads. Will a product from China have it or will you catch it on the subway? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),
"the virus mostly spreads from human to human contact"
but to transmit it you would have to be in close proximity to someone who is sick (within six feet) or come in contact with repository droplets from an infected person.
"This means that unless someone sneezes on you or you are in close contact with someone who is sick, you should be okay."
The CDC also said that while the virus could spread via contact with an infected surface, that is not the main way the virus spreads.
It is also important to note that globally only 83,000 people have contracted the virus and 3,000 have died. In comparison, in an average year about 1 billion people will contract the flu worldwide and between 291,000 and 646,000 people will die from the flu. “The flu kills people,” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said Wednesday. “This (coronavirus) is not Ebola. It’s not SARS, it’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence.” Plus if you are healthy your likelihood of getting over the coronavirus is much better.
So how do you prevent the spread of coronavirus? First, it is important to head the travel warnings that the State Department has issued. Currently, there are Level 3 travel health notices for China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea and a level 2 health notice for Japan. If you stay away from these places, which isn’t hard since many tourist locations and public places are shut down, you should be okay. The CDC also recommends:
- avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- washing your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
- staying home when you are sick
- cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects.
If you do these things, you will also lessen your chances of getting sick with other viruses like a cold or the flu.
"The CDC is also telling people that facemasks are only needed if you are already sick."
Symptoms and What to Do if You Get Sick
If you do get sick it is important to follow some protocols. First, get to know the symptoms. Coronavirus appears between 2-14 days after exposure. If it is past 14 days, it is unlikely you have coronavirus. If it is within the 14 days and you have a fever, coughing, and shortness of breath you should call a healthcare professional. If you show symptoms, it is also important that you take steps to protect others in your community. Don’t jump on the subway to get to the hospital. Quarantine yourself in place until you speak to a healthcare professional who will give you further instructions. You should also stay away from other people and animals in your house.
Officials do believe that at some point coronavirus will hit the United States in large numbers, especially since some people are already coming down with symptoms even though they have not been to an affected country. While officials say that there is no need to panic, it is important to take some precautionary measures to prevent a larger outbreak. More information can be found on the CDC’s website. The AFT has also set up an informational site for its members.