Corona Virus, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2: What We Know and How to Prepare
Corona Virus, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2:
What We Know and How to Prepare
- SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2): this is the name of the currently circulating strain of Corona Virus
- COVID-19: the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2
Influenza stats: The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that by the end of February 2020, at least 34 million Americans have gotten the flu, and an ~20,000 people have died from it. Unfortunately, it has taken a higher-than-expected toll on children.
COVID-19 stats: 660 confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Monday, March 9, 2020, with 26 deaths.
HOWEVER, the U.S. is significantly behind in testing, so accurate numbers are lacking since we don’t have capability to test widely yet.
- Symptoms: fever (but not all have it initially), malaise/achiness, cough, shortness of breath
- Remember, the vast majority of people (>80%) have a mild illness. Most younger people <50 years old are included in this. Please see the link in resources below regarding those at higher risk
- The incubation period is up to 14 days, although most people develop symptoms within 2-9 days of exposure
- More severe illness, if it is going to develop, generally happens in the second week of illness
- If you are diagnosed with another illness (such as the flu, for instance), it is unlikely you also have COVID-19
- If you are concerned you have symptoms, please call your doctor’s office to inform them of your concern and to be triaged.
- If you believe you may have come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed, call your doctor or state health department for further instructions. Most likely, those instructions will include isolating yourself at home for 14 days.
What You Can Do: Prepare, Don’t Panic!
- Wash hands, frequently, for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water!
- Review this explanation of proper handwashing by WebMD
- Wipe down surfaces; it is thought the virus can remain on surfaces for hours to days
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or the inside of your elbow
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes
- Avoid going to work or large gatherings of people when you are sick with any illness
- For those at high risk (people >60 years old and those with underlying medical conditions), avoid unnecessary travel and large gatherings of people
- Use of masks is only helpful for those who are sick (to prevent spread to others) and healthcare workers. Routine use of masks (even the N95 respirators) does not prevent getting sick as the virus is spread through droplets, not the air – so it is touching another person or a surface with the virus and then your own eyes, mouth, nose that introduces the virus into your body
- If you have vulnerable family members, make plans for caring for them; make back-up plans as well!
- Check on neighbors who might be higher risk
- Families and co-living residences need to strategize in case someone gets sick or needs isolation
- Consider preparations in case you are put in self-isolation/quarantined for 2 weeks (e.g., stock some food items; make sure you have a 2-week supplies of your medications)
- Discuss with your workplace what strategies are in place in case someone gets sick or exposed, and are there options to work from home
Things are rapidly changing!
It will be important to stay informed for further guidance. Locally, here in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker has just declared a state of emergency (Tuesday, March 10, 2020) in order to better manage the outbreak.
That being said, it might be helpful for your peace-of-mind to avoid watching the news around the clock!
Here are some links to keep updated:
- MA Dept of Public Health, in coordination w/ CDC
- CDC general information
- CDC Guidance for People at Higher Risk
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- For travelers by CDC
Some articles worth a read:
- “I Lived Through SARS and Reported on Ebola. These Are the Questions We Should Be Asking About Coronavirus.” Caroline Chen, ProPublica, March 5, 2020.
“Pandemic Panic? These 5 Tips Can Help You Regain Your Calm,” Allison Aubrey, WBUR News, March 3, 2020.
We Are In This Together!
As Caroline Chen summarizes in the article above, “Even if we have to stand a little farther apart from one another, the best way to get through this is with a bit of extra compassion to bridge the gap.” We are all in this together, and we will get through it by supporting and caring for each other!