Before December of 2019, you’d probably never heard of coronavirus. Even during that period, when coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) was just starting to surface in China, you may not have given much thought to a disease spreading thousands of miles away. That has all changed in the past month. COVID-19 has spread to well over 100 countries, and the United States has seen a rapid spike in cases.
As the disease has spread like wildfire, you’re likely getting a deluge of information. Although much of what you’ve heard about it is true, COVID-19 has also sprouted plenty of false and dangerous myths. Use this blog to cut through the noise and find out the key facts about coronavirus and what you can do to prevent its spread.
In uncertain times like these, knowledge can trump fear and is a powerful tool. Rimma Gelbert, DO, is researching COVID-19 through the lenses of both conventional medicine and alternative methods. The more you know about the coronavirus, the better you can prevent it.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface; “corona” is the Spanish word for “crown.” Researchers first discovered this family of viruses in the 1960s, and there are seven main strains that can infect people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people will contract a coronavirus in their lifetime and experience symptoms similar to a cold.
While the disease can be fatal, most people who contract COVID-19 will recover.
Some strains of coronavirus have already had serious consequences. The SARS pandemic of 2002-2003 killed 774 people worldwide; 858 deaths have been reported since MERS first appeared on the Arabian Peninsula in 2012. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 strain coronavirus and has reached pandemic levels in 2020.
What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms can vary from mild to severe and life-threatening. Although some cases are asymptomatic, most people experience the following within 2-14 days of exposure:
- Shortness of breath
You’re not in immediate danger if these symptoms develop and should not go to the hospital or emergency room. If you develop the following emergency warning signs of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you seek medical attention immediately:
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- Confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
Who is most at risk?
The elderly and immunocompromised are at the highest risk of developing serious symptoms. The death rate has been highest for those over 60. With this in mind, many nursing homes have banned visitors unless there is an "end of life" or emergency issue.
What can you do to prevent the spread of the virus?
There are three terms to remember when it comes to preventing the spread of coronavirus: self-quarantine, social distancing, and flattening the curve.
Self-quarantining means staying home and away from other people as much as possible for 14 days, the incubation period for the virus. While many companies are pushing their employees to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution, this term is most important for those who believe they may have come into contact with the virus.
When you do need to travel outside of your home, practice social distancing. It’s easy to do — the idea is to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and others. When you apply this to your life, it means staying away from bars, gyms, theaters, and even houses of worship.
Flattening the curve
Social distancing and self-quarantining are both proven methods of flattening the curve. The curve, in this case, is a bell curve of the amount of people who will become infected with COVID-19. A high-curve overwhelms hospitals and resources; a low curve keeps things under control. The flatter the curve, the more quickly life can return to normal and the more lives that are saved.
Coronavirus is frightening, but there are steps you can take to help control this outbreak. Contact our Brooklyn, New York, office if you have more questions or need advice.