What is the 2019/2020 Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are not new, as they have been identified since the mid-1960’s. MERS and SARS, two previous global outbreaks of the past decade, are also categorized as a coronavirus. The 2019 is a new strain, believed to have mutated to jump from animals, evolving with the ability to affect humans.
Where did it come from?
The virus is believed to be linked to a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where it made its first jump from animals to humans. Many subsequent infected individuals did not have a link to this marketplace, therefore suggesting the virus was spread by human interaction.
Why is it referred to as the "novel coronavirus"?
The word “novel” means new. There are many previous strains of the Coronavirus, and this is the newest iteration.
What are the symptoms?
The virus symptoms can range from very mild to severe in nature. The symptoms may appear 2-14 days after initial exposure, which means that you may be infected without knowing, potentially passing on the virus to others.
Fever, shortness of breath, and coughing may be early indicators of infection.
Emergency warning signs, according to the CDC, are:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
If you have these emergency warning signs, the CDC recommends to seek medical attention and consultation with your doctor.
Who is at risk?
Thus far, older individuals and people with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems have seen the most severe cases (including death) for the Covid 19 virus.
If you are not in one of the above categories, you can still get the virus as no one is immune. Generally, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses are the highest risk, but people that appear healthy may still get severe symptoms. Also, follow preventative measures - just because you are young and healthy does not mean that you are immune, and being carefree may turn you into a carrier, potentially affecting those around you.
How can I protect myself?
Follow common sense procedures. The key is for every person in the world to slow down their interactions with one another as this will slow down the spread. Deaths often increase when hospitals get overwhelmed and cannot keep up with those that are seriously infected. By practicing social distancing, we all have the ability to help slow the spread so hospitals and medical professionals can effectively treat those that need it.
Can I get tested?
If you are developing mild-flu like symptoms, reach out to your doctor and let them know, as it may just be the common cold. If you are in the higher-risk group (older and/or chronic illness), be sure to update your doctor as your symptoms progress. If you have symptoms considered severe, like persistent chest pain, bluish lips or face, and/or severe flu-like symptoms, contact your local emergency room before you head on over, if possible. Also, be sure to wear a mask to protect our medical and healthcare workers and those around you.
Currently in the US, there are just not enough tests to go around, even for medical professionals. Production increases should help this in a number of weeks, but currently, tests are reserved for individuals that seek medical attention and are showing serious signs.
Is there a vaccine?
As of mid-March, the first human clinical trial is underway. The first trial for this vaccine is Phase I of testing, which should last about 6 weeks, enrolling 45 adults. Global governments have stated that this is an urgent matter of an unprecedented scale, and have enacted rules to help speed up the virus from ideation to testing to approval to production. Current estimates for the United States place a vaccine in production during mid to late summer.
What to do if you think you're sick?
- Distance is key! If you are not seriously ill, stay home and isolate! You shouldn't leave your house, except for medical care and necessities.
- Stay in touch with your doctor - its important for medical professionals to be up to date with your status. If symptoms continue to elevate, your doctor may direct you to a hospital or testing lab.
- Avoid public places like buses, starbucks, restaurants, etc. If you believe you may be carrying the virus, even if you only have mild symptoms, you can pass this along to others.
- Social distancing - it's hard for us to stay completely isolated, and exercise outdoors is alright - just be sure to keep 6ft between yourself and the folks you run into. If you head out for supplies/medical care, use your best judgement but be proactive in distancing yourself as much as possible.
- Wear a mask - The mask can be to protect yourself for catching the virus, but also to prevent yourself from spreading it to others.
- Clean your hands! Its hard to find hand sanitizer these days, but washing your hands with soap and water for AT LEAST 20 seconds will go a long way
- Avoid touching - prevent yourself from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands - these are gateways into our bodies and you need to keep the germs away.
- Lastly, if you believe you need to go to the doctor, PLEASE call ahead. They need to be sure to have the appropriate testing facility and preventative care. Do not show up unannounced unless its an emergency.