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CORONAVIRUS: What You Need to Know about Coronavirus

Information about coronavirus (COVID-19) conintues to rapidly develop. Here's some information about the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses, with various strains affecting people and animals. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is the strain that is currently in the news and it was first identified in Wuhan, China. The virus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms of this illness are similar to other respiratory illnesses and include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Some infected people have few or no symptoms and recover in a few days. Others, especially the elderly or those with weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions, may have more severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. The virus may even cause death.

How do you get coronavirus?

COVID-19 typically spreads through contact with respiratory droplets from someone infected with the virus. This can occur when someone who has the virus sneezes, coughs or even talks, with estimated spread occurring up to 6 feet from the infected person. These droplets can also land on surfaces that, if touched, may make you sick if your hands then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Symptoms appear in 2-14 days after exposure but the virus may spread even in people with no obvious symptoms.

How can you protect yourself from coronavirus?

The same steps you take to avoid getting a cold or the flu will help protect you from coronavirus. Wash hands often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands. Disinfect surfaces you touch. Stay away from people with obvious signs of illness. Keep your immune system strong by eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Should you wear a protective face mask?

Masks can be helpful in preventing the spread of the virus if worn by people who are ill, but they are of little help in protecting you from the virus if you are well. Infectious disease experts say there's little need to wear a mask and urge the public to stop buying up these valuable supplies needed by health care workers who are treating the virus on the frontlines.

How can coronavirus be treated?

There are no specific treatments for coronavirus, but you can help relieve symptoms by doing what you would do for a cold or flu. This includes taking medication for pain/fever, using a humidifier or taking a hot shower to help ease coughing, drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest. If symptoms don't improve, call your doctor to find out if you should be seen or tested for the flu or COVID-19. If symptoms are severe, go to the emergency room or call 911.

Learn more about the COVID-19 response by clicking here.


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Date Last Reviewed: March 16, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD
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