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Help to Flatten the Curve: Educate Yourself about COVID-19
What You Need to Know About COVID-19
Although there are hundreds of different types of coronaviruses, very few of them cause people to get sick. Of the seven coronaviruses that can make people ill, more than half cause mild illness. The remaining three cause SARS, MERS and the new COVID-19. As of March 11, 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 has been classified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the virus continues to spread across Florida and the U.S., here's what you need to know to protect yourself and to get help and treatment if necessary.
How Do People Get COVID-19?
COVID-19 spreads from person to person. The virus spreads through droplets. If someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes and is close to another person (within 6 feet), it's possible for the virus to spread from one person to the next through the cough or sneeze.
The virus can also spread through contact with surfaces that have the virus on them. For example, if an infected person sneezes or coughs into their hand, then uses their hand to open a door, the next person to touch the door can come into contact with the virus.
What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
Three major symptoms are associated with COVID-19. The symptoms might appear anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks after exposure to the virus:
- Shortness of breath
A person might have COVID-19 and not have any visible symptoms. It's possible for asymptomatic, infected people to spread the disease.
If you are showing any of the above symptoms and think you might have COVID-19, stay home. You can call your healthcare provider to describe your symptoms to them, but don't go into the office or to the emergency department unless told to do so. Staying home will help to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
Depending on your specific case, your healthcare provider might recommend that you get tested for coronavirus. Follow any instructions your healthcare provider gives you about the test. Only go in for testing if you are told to do so.
How Is COVID-19 Treated?
As of April 2020, there is no specific treatment or medication for COVID-19. People are who have mild symptoms will most likely be told to stay home and practice self-care measures, such as resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and using humidifiers.
If someone has very severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, they may be admitted to a hospital and given care and treatment there.
Don't Believe These COVID-19 Myths
In the few months since COVID-19 was discovered, numerous myths have spread around the world about it. Misinformation about the disease can be very harmful, as it can prevent people from getting the help they need. Myths about COVID-19 can also create a false sense of security, contributing to the further spread of the virus. Some common myths about COVID-19 include:
- Young people don't get sick. Although older people and those with compromised immune systems or health issues have a higher risk of developing a more severe case of COVID-19, the disease can affect young, healthy people, too. Young people, including children, have gotten very sick or even died from the disease.
- Sunlight/heat/cold temperatures kill the virus. Hot or cold weather or sitting out in the sun will not protect you from COVID-19.
- You should bathe in bleach or rubbing alcohol to kill the virus. Bathing in bleach or rubbing alcohol can be dangerous. Regular soap and water are effective at killing the virus.
- There is a vaccine available. So far, no vaccine is available against COVID-19.
- Antibiotics can treat COVID-19. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria. Antibiotics are designed to treat conditions caused by bacterial infections.
- Eating _____ will help you avoid COVID-19. Although eating a healthy diet can help to boost your immune system and overall health, there are no foods that will help prevent COVID-19.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
The best way to protect yourself and your family against COVID-19 is to minimize the risk of coming into contact with the virus. Staying home as much as possible and practicing social distancing will help to reduce your risk of exposure.
As of the beginning of April, the state of Florida has been under a stay home order. You can leave your house to go to work if you must, to go grocery shopping or to buy other essentials, and for outdoor exercise. When you do leave your home, you need to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
Washing your hands frequently and regularly cleaning surfaces in your home will also help to protect you and your family from the virus. To minimize the risk of exposure, avoid touching your face.
As of early April, the CDC has begun recommending that people wear cloth face coverings when they need to go out of their homes. A cloth mask or covering is designed to protect those around you. If you do have the virus but aren't showing symptoms, the covering will reduce the chance of droplets spreading from your nose and mouth.
Keep in mind that you should not wear a mask designed for healthcare professionals, such as an N95 respirator or a surgical mask. The CDC has tips for creating your own mask at home, using materials such as clean, old T-shirts or bandanas.
If you are worried that you are at risk of developing COVID-19 or that you've possibly been exposed to the virus, Parrish Healthcare has an online risk assessment you can complete. Based on the information you provide, you'll be given guidance about the best way to proceed.
1. Coronaviruses, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses
2. Situational Summary, Centers for Disease Control, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/summary.html
3. Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations
4. Symptoms of Coronavirus, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
5. Myth busters, WHO, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters