Coronavirus - Important Facts to Know
Written by Loudoun Free Clinic Staff Colleen Breuning & Karen Tortora, RN
What is Coronavirus?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that was first identified and linked to an outbreak in China. It comes from a large family of viruses that are common in humans and other animal species such as camels, cattle, cats, and bats.
How does it spread?
The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person, between those who are in close contact with each other. Transmission is thought to occur through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land in the mouths or noses of nearby people and be inhaled into the lungs.
Who is at risk?
Some individuals are at higher risk of contracting COVD-19 and falling ill. This includes older adults, people with chronic medical conditions (diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, hypertension).
Also, any individual with a compromised immune system (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease) is considered to be high risk.
How quickly is Coronavirus spreading in the US?
COVD-19 originated in China, with significant spread happening internationally in countries such as Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran. The CDC reported its first case of COVID-19 in the United States in late January 2020.
As of March 13, 2020, the nationwide count of cases of COVID-19 was 1,629 cases and 36 deaths. These were reported by 43 jurisdictions in the country. In Virginia, as of March 15, 2020, 408 individuals were tested, 45 cases were reported, with 5 cases in Loudoun County. The first death in the state due to the coronavirus occurred on March 14, the Virginia Department of Health said. The 70 year old man's cause of death was respiratory failure as a result of COVID-19. He lived in James City County, where there is a "limited" community spread.
This is a quickly evolving situation that is changing on a daily basis. Latest updates can be found here at the CDC and Virginia Department of Health websites:
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms typically appear between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Patients with COVID-19 may experience mild to severe respiratory illness, including fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Call your healthcare professional immediately if you exhibit symptoms, have been in close contact with a person, who has COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran or to any areas with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19. Note that the list of countries has rapidly expanded.
Are there treatments and/or preventions?
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine that has been developed to prevent COVID-19.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. As of March 15, 2020, the CDC recommended that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.
Preventive measures you can take include the following:
* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. * Stay home when you are sick.
* Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of in the trash.
* Clean/disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces with household cleaning spray or wipe.
* Use a face mask only if you show symptoms of COVID-19, or are a healthcare worker or caregiver taking care of someone who has contracted the virus.
* Wash your hands often with soap & water for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing.
* Self-distance and self-quarantine if you are feeling ill with symptoms or have been advised to do so by your healthcare professional.
Stay up to date with the latest COVD-19 news by checking these sites: