Staying Informed About the Coronavirus
What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
There are many types of human coronaviruses that are responsible for causing common colds and more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a new coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact with people that are sick and maintain a distance between yourself and other people.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Signs and Symptoms
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. Most people (about 80%), recover from the disease without needing special treatment. 1 out of every 6 people who contracts COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops breathing difficulties. Older people and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
What To Do If You Feel Ill
- If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
- Stay home when feeling ill.
- Avoid exposing others to your illness – even if you feel up to going out, you could pose a risk to someone who lacks your immune resilience.
- Avoid public transportation.
- Seek immediate medical attention with these COVID-19 emergency warning signs:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
- Bluish lips or face.
- New confusion.
Status of Testing, Vaccines and Treatment Options
To date, there is no vaccine nor specific antiviral medicine to prevent COVID-2019 but vaccines are under investigation and beginning to be tested on humans. The Department of Human Health and Services has teamed up with manufacturers to expedite the development of vaccines against the Coronavirus. There is no FDA approved antiviral medication to treat COVID-2019. Some specific drug treatments are under investigation which are undergoing clinical trials globally. The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for prescribing and distribution of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to hospitalized teenage and adult patients with COVID-19 in cases where other options are not obtainable (ex. clinical trial drugs).
On March 30th, the FDA rolled out a new diagnostic test for Americans who need testing for the COVID-19 virus. This test provides patients with results in hours rather than days.