Coronavirus and COVID-19: What You Should Know

Coronavirus and COVID-19: What You Should Know

What is Covid-19?

Coronavirus is a common type of virus that causes an infection in the nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous.

In early 2020, after the outbreak in December 2019 in China, the World Health Organization identified SARS-CoV-2 as a new type of coronavirus. The outbreak spread rapidly around the world.

COVID-19 is the disease SARS-CoV-2 causes and can lead to what doctors call a respiratory infection. It can affect the upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or the lower respiratory tract (trachea and lungs).

It spreads in the same way as other coronaviruses, mainly through personal contact. The infection ranges from mild to fatal.

SARS-CoV-2 is one of seven types of coronavirus, including those that cause serious illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Other coronaviruses cause most of our colds during the year, but they do not pose a serious threat to healthy people.

Is there more than one strain of SARS-CoV-2?

It is normal for the virus to change or mutate because it infects people. A Chinese study of 103 COVID-19 cases indicates that the virus causing it did just that. They found two strains they called L and Type S older, but type L was more common in the early stages of the outbreak. They think one might cause more disease than the other, but they're still working on what all of this means.

How long will the coronavirus last?

It is too early to know how long the pandemic will last. It depends on many things, including researchers' work to learn more about the virus, their search for a treatment and a vaccine, and the public's efforts to slow its spread.

There are more than 100 candidate vaccines in various stages of development and testing. This process usually takes years. Researchers are working to speed things up as much as possible, and some vaccines are in the late stages of trials. While some say we can get a vaccine by the end of the year, others expect it will be longer to ensure the vaccine works, is safe, and can be widely distributed.
Symptoms of Covid-19 disease

The main symptoms include:

    Shortness of breath
    difficulty breathing
    Chills, sometimes with shaking
    body aches
    Sore throat
    Congestion / runny nose
    Loss of the sense of smell or taste

The virus can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, heart problems, liver problems, septic shock, and death. Many of the complications of COVID-19 may be caused by a condition known as cytokine release syndrome or cytokine storm. This occurs when an infection stimulates your immune system to flood the bloodstream with inflammatory proteins called cytokines. It can kill tissues and damage your organs.

If you notice the following severe symptoms in yourself or in a loved one, get medical help right away:

    Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    Constant pain or pressure in the chest
    New confusion
    You cannot be fully awakened
    Blue lips or face

Strokes have also been reported in some people with COVID-19. Remember FAST:

    Face. Is one side of the person's face numb or drooping? Is their smile unbalanced?
    arms. Is one arm weak or numb? If they try to raise both arms, does one arm relax?
    Speech. Can they speak clearly? Have them repeat a sentence.
    time. Every minute counts when someone shows signs of a stroke. Call 911 right away.

If you do have the infection, symptoms can appear within 2 days or 14 days. It differs from person to person.

According to researchers in China, these were the most common symptoms among people with COVID-19:

    Fever 99%
    Fatigue 70%
    Cough 59%
    Lack of appetite 40%
    Body pain 35%
    Shortness of breath 31%
    Mucus / phlegm 27%

Some people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 have dangerous blood clots, including in the legs, lungs, and arteries.

What to do if you think you have it

If you live in or travel to an area where COVID-19 is common:

    If you're not feeling well, stay home. Even if you have mild symptoms like headache and runny nose, stay put until you get better. This allows doctors to focus on people who are critically ill and protects healthcare workers and the people you may meet along the way. You may hear this called self-quarantine. Try to stay in a separate room away from other people in your home. Use a separate bath if you can.
    Call a doctor if you have difficulty breathing. You need to get medical help as soon as possible. Calling in advance (rather than attending) will allow the doctor to direct you to the appropriate place, which may not be your doctor's office. If you do not have a regular doctor, call your local health board. They can tell you where to go for testing and treatment. 

Follow your doctor's advice and keep up with the news regarding COVID-19. Between your doctor and healthcare authorities, you will get the care you need and information on how to prevent the virus from spreading.

For more information on COVID-19, see the Frequently Asked Questions.

How do I know if it is Covid-19, a cold or the flu?

The symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to the common cold or the flu. Your doctor will suspect COVID-19 if:

    You have a fever and a cough.
    You have been exposed to people who have contracted it in the past 14 days.
 Is COVID-19 worse than influenza?

Unlike influenza, many people are not immune to the Coronavirus because it is so new. If you catch it, the virus stimulates your body to make things called antibodies. Researchers are looking to see if they protect you from reinfection.

The coronavirus also appears to cause higher rates of severe disease and death compared to the flu. But the symptoms themselves can vary widely from person to person.

Is COVID-19 as seasonal as the flu?

Some lab studies have found that higher temperatures and humidity levels may help slow the spread of the coronavirus. But experts advise caution and say weather changes will not be significant without comprehensive public health efforts. Also, previous flu epidemics occurred throughout the year.
Causes of infection with the new Corona virus

Researchers aren't sure why. There is more than one type of coronavirus. It is common in humans and animals including bats, camels, cats and livestock. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is similar to MERS and SARS. All of them came from bats.
Coronavirus risk factors

Anyone can catch COVID-19, and most infections are mild. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing severe disease.

You also have a higher chance of becoming seriously ill if you have one of these health conditions:

    Chronic kidney failure
    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    Weakened immune system due to organ transplantation
    Serious heart disease such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
    Sickle cell disease
    Type 2 diabetes

Conditions that may lead to severe COVID-19 disease include:

    Moderate to severe asthma
    Diseases affecting blood vessels and blood flow to the brain
    Cystic fibrosis
    high blood pressure
    A weak immune system due to blood, bone marrow transplantation, HIV, or drugs such as corticosteroids
    mental illness
    Liver disease
    Damaged or scarred lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis)
    Type 1 diabetes

Some children and adolescents in hospital with COVID-19 have an inflammatory condition that doctors call the pediatric polysystem inflammatory syndrome. Doctors think it may be related to the virus. It causes symptoms similar to those of toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, a condition that causes vasculitis in children.
Coronavirus transmission

How does the Corona virus spread?

SARS-CoV-2 is spread primarily from person to person.

Most of the time, the disease spreads when a sick person coughs or sneezes. They can spray drops from as far as 6 feet. If you breathe in or swallow it, the virus can enter your body. Some people with the virus have no symptoms, but they can still spread the virus.

You can also contract the virus by touching a surface or object where the virus is located, and then touching your mouth, nose, or perhaps your eyes. Most viruses can live for several hours on a surface they land on. A study shows that SARS-CoV-2 can last for several hours on different types of surfaces:

    Copper: 4 hours
    Carton: up to 24 hours
    Plastic or stainless steel: 2 to 3 days

This is why it is important to disinfect surfaces to get rid of the virus.

Some dogs and cats have tested positive for the virus. Show few signs of disease. There is no evidence that humans can contract this coronavirus from an animal, but it appears that it can be transmitted from humans to animals.

What is community spread?

Doctors and health officials use this term when they do not know the source of the infection. With COVID-19, it usually refers to a person who has the virus even though he has not been outside the country or has not been exposed to someone who has traveled abroad or has been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

In February 2020, the CDC confirmed a COVID-19 infection in California in someone who had not traveled to an affected area or had been exposed to a person with the disease. This represents the first case of community spread in the United States. It is possible that this person was exposed to an infected person but did not know it.

How fast does it spread?

The number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 changes every day. Watch our news story for the latest updates on this evolving story.

How common is the Corona virus?

The transmission rate is relatively high. Early research estimated that a person infected with it could spread it to between 2 and 2.5 others. One study found that the rate was higher, with one case spreading between 4.7 and 6.6 other people. By comparison, a person infected with seasonal flu will transmit it to between 1.1 and 2.3 others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports indicate there is evidence that it can be transmitted if you reach within 6 feet of an infectious person for 15 minutes throughout the day. It was previously thought that exposure should be 15 minutes each time.

We can work to reduce transmission rate by washing hands often, keeping common surfaces clean, limiting contact with other people, and wearing cloth face masks when we cannot stay 6 feet away from others.

Can the coronavirus be transmitted through groceries, packages, or food?

You are more likely to get COVID-19 from another person than from parcels, groceries, or food. If you are in a high-risk group, stay home and use a delivery service or have a friend shop for you. Ask them to leave things outside your door, if you can. If you do your own shopping, wear a face mask, dress it up and try to stay at least 6 feet away from other shoppers.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after you bring items into your home. Coronavirus can remain on hard surfaces, so clean and disinfect surfaces and anything else your bags have touched. You can wipe down plastic, metal, or glass containers with soap and water if you like.

There is no evidence that anyone has contracted COVID-19 from food or food containers.
Coronavirus diagnosis

Call your doctor or local health department if you think you've experienced symptoms such as:

    Fever of 100 F or higher
    difficulty breathing

In most states, testing facilities are becoming more readily available. While some require an appointment, others simply require an appointment.

A swab test is the most common method. It looks for signs of the virus in the upper respiratory tract. The person conducting the test puts a swab from your nose to take a sample from the back of your nose and throat. This sample usually goes to a laboratory looking for viral material, but some areas may undergo rapid tests that give results in less than 15 minutes.

If there are signs of the virus, the test is positive. A negative test may mean that there is no virus or not enough to measure. This can happen early in the infection. It usually takes 24 hours to obtain results, but tests must be collected, stored, shipped to the laboratory and processed.

The Food and Drug Administration grants emergency use permits for tests that have not yet been fully approved. This includes the home nasal swab test, the home saliva test, and tests that check the blood for things called antibodies. Your immune system makes antibodies in response to infections.

Only a swab test can determine if you have the virus in your body at that point. But an antibody test can show whether you've been exposed to the virus before, even if you don't have symptoms. This is important in officials' efforts to find out the extent of COVID-19. Over time, it may also help them learn who is immune to the virus.

The Food and Drug Administration is working with labs across the country to develop more tests.
Coronavirus prevention

Take these steps:

    Wash your hands often with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol disinfectant. This kills viruses on your hands.
    Practice social distancing. Because the virus can be infected and spread without knowing it, you should stay home as much as possible. If you have to get outside, stay at least 6 feet away from others.
    Cover your nose and mouth in public. If you have COVID-19, you can spread it even if you don't feel sick. Wear a cloth face covering to protect others. This is not a substitute for social distancing. You still need to maintain a distance of 6 feet between yourself and those around you. Do not use a healthcare worker face mask. Do not cover anyone's face:
        Less than two years
        You are having difficulty breathing
        Unconscious or unable to remove the mask on his own for other reasons
    Don't touch your face. Coronaviruses can live on surfaces that you touch for several hours. If you touch your hands and touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, it can enter your body.

 Coronavirus vaccine

There is no vaccine, but extensive research has been underway around the world since scientists shared the genetic makeup of the virus in January 2020. The vaccine began testing in humans at record speed in March 2020. There are more than 100 vaccine projects in various stages of development.

Projections indicate that the vaccine may be ready before the end of 2020, and pharmaceutical companies have issued a joint announcement that their vaccines will not be launched until safety is guaranteed. However, childhood vaccines are unlikely to be available anytime soon.

If you are interested in volunteering a trial of the COVID-19 vaccine, here are some sources of more information:

Government sponsored sites:

COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). This is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and coordinated by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Its goal is to enroll thousands of volunteers in nationwide COVID vaccine trials. Many research centers use this site to find volunteers. This is a government database of public and private clinical studies conducted around the world. The site also offers considerations for joining a clinical trial.

Sites connecting volunteers to nationwide experiences include:

Center Watch

Covid Dash

A world without COVID

Individual hospitals, universities, research centers, and others may also provide opportunities to enroll in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of them include:

Alliance for Interdisciplinary Research

Kaiser Permanente

South Carolina Medical University

Meridian Clinical Research

Bin medicine

St. Louis University

SAResearch (Clinical Trials in Texas)

University of California, Davis

University of California San Diego

Maryland University

University of Rochester Medical Center

Vanderbilt University

Wake Research

You can also call or visit the website of the local hospital or research institution to see if they are participating in any trials.
Coronavirus treatment

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. People with a mild condition need care to relieve their symptoms, such as rest, fluids, and fever control. Take over-the-counter medications for sore throat, body aches, and fever. But don't give aspirin to children or teenagers under 19 years old.

You may have heard that you shouldn't take ibuprofen to treat symptoms of COVID-19. But the National Institutes of Health says people with the virus can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen as normal.

Antibiotics will not help because they treat bacteria, not viruses. If you hear about people with COVID-19 getting antibiotics, it is due to an infection with the disease.

People with severe symptoms need hospital care.

The antiviral drug remdesivir (Veklury) is the first drug to receive FDA approval to treat patients in hospital with coronavirus. Originally developed to treat Ebola, evidence indicates that those treated with Primedivir recovered in approximately 11 days compared to 15 days for those treated with placebo.

Several clinical trials are underway to explore treatments used in other conditions that can fight COVID-19 and to develop new treatments.

For example, trials are underway with tocilizumab, another drug used to treat autoimmune diseases. The FDA also allows clinical trials and hospital use of blood plasma from people who have contracted the COVID-19 virus and have recovered to help others build immunity. You will hear this called convalescent plasma. Currently, evidence for its effectiveness is limited.

You may have heard a lot about the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. The FDA originally granted an emergency use of the medication but later canceled this because studies have not shown that the drugs work against COVID-19 or that their benefits outweigh the risks.

A variety of steroid medications are used including dexamethasone which is used to treat conditions such as arthritis, blood / hormone / immune system disorders, and allergic reactions. More studies on efficacy are ongoing.

Is there a treatment for the new Corona virus?

There is no cure yet, but researchers are working hard to find a cure.


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