The Novel Coronavirus, Where Is It, and How Can We Help Prevent It?

US Map of COVID-19
Data as of 5:15 p.m. ET, March 4. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments

With recent outbreaks on the other side of the globe, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has finally made it into the United States. First arriving on the West Coast, the virus is now spread sporadically throughout the country. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there are now  80 reported cases within the nation. States with the confirmed cases of COVID-19 include: California, Oregon, Washington (with 9 reported deaths), Arizona, Utah*, Nebraska*, Texas*, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Among the 80 reported cases, 49 of those were from chartered flights ordered by the US State Department. 

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease which was first detected in China and now detected in nearly 70 locations internationally. This new virus is spread between those who are within 6 feet of each other, and through respiratory droplets like sneezing and coughing. Those infected are most contagious when they are symptomatic (at the most sickest), yet some people can be contagious when they are not showing symptoms; in turn, everyone is susceptible. Touching infected surfaces or objects is also another instance a person can become infected. However, the CDC states, they are still learning how the virus spreads. In all, the COVID-19 has proven to be highly contagious.

Based on information from China, the severity of the COVID-19 virus has been proven to be a mild illness. However, elderly persons or those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at greater risk of serious illness and make up 16% of severe cases in China. 

The CDC believes we will see more cases in the United States, with a potential widespread transmission of the COVID-19. To aide in the prevention of the virus, it is important to participate in daily preventative actions which include: 

  • Avoiding contact with those that are sick. 
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, 
  • Stay home when you are sick, 
  • Please cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue and be sure to throw it in the trash, 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • Most importantly, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 

If you experience symptoms of respiratory illness, have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, have traveled to an area with ongoing spread, be sure to tell your healthcare professional.  To prevent the spread if you’re sick, follow these steps below:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all high-touch surfaces everyday.
  • Monitor your symptoms.

In all, please remember everyone is susceptible and it is very important to aid in the prevention of the virus.

*these cases include individuals repatriated via State Department-chartered flights.

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