(Written by Tonisha Nicholls)
Life has changed. For the first time in modern history, cities are on lockdown, companies are asking employees to work from home, and adults that don’t live with their parents have curfews. And it’s all because of the coronavirus/COVID-19.
It’s easy to get confused with all the information out there so, here are the basics.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a very contagious disease caused by a new coronavirus. Most people will have mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. The elderly and those with other health problems are more likely to develop severe symptoms.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Some people don’t have any symptoms, but amongst those that do- the most common symptoms are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Others may have body aches, runny nose, congestion, and diarrhea. In the worst cases, people may have trouble breathing. Everyone should expect a minor to severe shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
How does COVID-19 spread?
When a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales, they can leave droplets in the air and on surfaces. Healthy people can become sick by breathing in the droplets or touching the infected surface and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. The World Health Organization (WHO) is still investigating how COVID-19 spreads so, expect more information as it becomes available.
How do I prevent coronavirus/COVID-19?
COVID-19 is new, so we don’t have antivirals or a vaccine yet but, there are still things you can do to lower your risk of catching it.
- Wash your hands with soap frequently, for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t get soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that is 60% alcohol, because it kills viruses.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you might be sick, stay home and call your doctor for advice before going out.
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth (you’re about to find out you touch them – A LOT)
- Don’t sneeze or cough into your hands. Sneeze into your arm, so you don’t spread germs to every surface you touch.
- Your immune system is your best defense. Eat nutritious foods, get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated to keep your immune system strong.
Where did COVID-19 come from?
COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses we are very familiar with, called coronaviruses. Coronaviruses can cause minor illnesses like the common cold and more severe respiratory diseases like SARS. Before you freak out about SARS- coronaviruses are genetically related, but they’re not the same, and they cause different diseases. They’re like a thieving cousin and a drunk uncle. Genetically related, but they cause different problems at family get-togethers.
Is Coronavirus deadly? If I get it, will I survive?
80% of people with COVID-19 recover without special treatment, but a few may develop severe symptoms like difficulty breathing. COVID-19 can be deadly if you are over 60 years old or have other health problems that weaken your immune system. People that are taking immunosuppressant drugs or have heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, asthma, chronic kidney disease, and other illnesses are at the highest risk. If you know someone who falls into that category, make sure they talk to their doctor ASAP if they develop symptoms. If YOU develop symptoms, call your doctor- not your friend who took one biology class and declared themselves an expert. CALL A DOCTOR.
Should I be freaking out?
Take every health risk seriously, and take proper precautions all year round. Most of the panic around coronavirus comes from uncertainty. It’s okay to feel anxious but remind yourself that it’s not the end of the world. No zombies will be chasing Brad Pitt through the CDC or breaking into Will Smith’s lab. Arm yourself with correct information from the right sources like the World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control. Use this scare as an opportunity to develop healthier habits for you and your family.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the never-ending coronavirus news cycle, and it’s okay to be concerned. Just remember the basics…
- Take COVID-19 seriously. It’s highly contagious and can be deadly for people over 60 and those who have other illnesses.
- Don’t panic! Most cases are mild to moderate.
- If you start feeling symptoms, call your doctor for advice before going outdoors.
Visit CDC’s official website for more information.
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