Here’s What You Need to Know
What is it?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. Cases of the disease are being reported in a growing number of countries including the United States.
How does it spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales. The CDC suggests “close contact” be kept to a minimum of six feet with anyone who might be sick — this is twice the distance — compared to what health professionals have defined it in past outbreaks, like SARS.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, stay home and call your healthcare provider.
What about older patients are those with medical conditions?
Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately. Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.
The numbers continue to increase every day — doubling in some countries overnight. The virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica. Students at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering began tracking COVID-19 data in real-time with an interactive dashboard, use the following link. https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
The World Health Organization Declared the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak a Pandemic
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said what has been increasingly obvious for weeks, “We’ve been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized by pandemic.”
The news came after identified cases doubled in the United States in the space of just two days, Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany said that 60 to 70 percent of Germans could become infected, and Italy locked down its entire population and warned the world that they were running out of ICU capacity — while experts warned many other countries were on track for large outbreaks and health care capacity issues.
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do. Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled,” Ghebreyesus said. — Vox
How to Protect Yourself
- · Wash your hands: wet your hands with clean, running water. Apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers and under your nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse.
- · Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue on hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands.
- · Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Viruses often spreads when someone touches a contaminated object and then touch their face. You should also clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- · Seek early medical help by phone if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Share your recent travel history with healthcare providers.
- · If you’ve returned from an infected area and develop a high temperature, cough, runny nose, sore throat or difficulty breathing, do not leave your home until you’ve been given advice by a doctor.
The CDC, the main U.S. federal agency monitoring and responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak, has created a microsite with frequently updated information for health practitioners, researchers, and the general public. Of particular interest to the public is the Situation Summary, a quick overview with maps of reported coronavirus cases in the United States and globally.
Intended for the general public, this health encyclopedia and information portal produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine provides background on coronaviruses, along with updated information and links concerning the 2019 novel coronavirus. Users can also search MedlinePlus for links to high-quality health and medical information from other government agencies and trusted third-party organizations.
The WHO, a leading international health agency helping to coordinate the global response to the coronavirus outbreak, offers global news updates and helpful videos, answers common questions (Should I wear a mask to protect myself? How does this virus spread?), and dispels myths (no, gargling with mouthwash won’t protect against the virus).
News and Updates
The New York Times provides excellent coverage of the novel coronavirus in its Health section. This dedicated page collects enlightening stories, graphics, and updates about the situation. Although nytimes.com provides free access to only a limited number of articles per month, the coronavirus landing page and headlines are free to browse. Those libraries or individuals with subscriptions to the site will find it an invaluable source of information.
This news site published by the nonprofit Society for Science & the Public has created a page dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak, featuring stories by their staff writers. While there are fewer coronavirus articles here than on other sites, these pieces are nevertheless thorough, well documented, and free for all to read.
Time.com has curated stories about the outbreak. This site is free to search and read.
Info and Resources on Coronavirus
|877-215-8336 The Oklahoma State Department of Health has established a Coronavirus Call Center to answer questions. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 am to 7 pm; Saturday, 9 am to 3 pm. The Center can connect with Spanish interpreters. Call hours may change, so visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov to check the Call Center schedule.|