Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Coronavirus FAQ: Your Questions, Answered
What is coronavirus?
- Coronavirus (CoV) is a large family of viruses, with wide-ranging illnesses. The common cold is a coronavirus, but so are MERS and SARS which caused deathly outbreaks in the past couple of decades. Neither of those outbreaks were as deadly as COVID-19.
Why is it called COVID-19?
- According to the World Health Organization, “in COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.” Nineteen is for 2019, the year it was first detected.
- If you’d like more information about how the WHO names new diseases, here’s a link.
What's the difference between a cold, the flu and coronavirus?
- COVID-19 is very similar to the flu, but more deadly. The flu kills tens of thousands of people annually: “that’s exactly why scientists don’t want another contagious respiratory disease to take root.”
- Many of COVID-19 symptoms are similar to colds and influenza. But COVID-19 is more deadly, and there is no known vaccine.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- Most common: fever, tiredness, dry cough.
- Less common: aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea.
- Symptoms are mild and begin gradually.
- Some can become infected with no symptoms, and can recover without knowing they ever had COVID-19. These individuals can still pass the virus along to others.
- Around 80% of people recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
How does coronavirus spread?
- Put simply, “a virus is a tiny codependent microbe that attaches to a cell, takes over, makes more of itself and moves on to its next host.” Coronavirus is no different. Here’s how it spreads:
- “Viral droplets.” Think: saliva and visible spray from shouting, but also invisible water particles that leave your mouth when you talk, breathe and cough.
- Close proximity to a sick person. Experts say keep six-feet distance from folks, especially those who are sick. And, more time equals more risk.
- The virus can survive on surfaces, like bus poles, desks and touch screens. Coronavirus can stay on plastic, metal and glass for up to nine days.
- Viral droplets do NOT pass through unbroken skin. Washing your hands thoroughly gets them off.
- Touching your face can pass the virus from surface to hands to your eyes, mouth or nose. Here are tips to avoid touching your face.
- Kissing spreads COVID-19, but it’s likely not sexually-transmitted.
What is the best way to kill the virus?
- Wash your hands with soap. The New York Times explains how soap penetrates and destroys the virus, and washing for the recommended 20 seconds removes the microorganism from the skin.
- Use disinfectant on commonly-touched surfaces (lightswitches, doorknobs, desks, etc.).
How should I wash my hands?
- Doctors are all saying wash your hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Here’s why soap works.
- The purpose of handwashing is to wash the virus off, NOT to kill the virus.
- Pay particular attention after shaking hands with people or being in public places.
- Touching your face (especially eyes, nose and around your mouth) is a big way COVID-19 is transmitted – so don’t touch your face.
- “Wash your hands like you just got done slicing jalapeños for a batch of nachos and you need to take your contacts out,” one city in Texas advises. “That’s like 20 seconds of scrubbing, y’all.”
- You can also sing a song to help count the 20 seconds. Here’s a thread of songs with 20 second choruses (think: Love on Top, Truth Hurts, Jolene, Landslide…).
Should I wear a face mask?
- If you’re healthy: no. It doesn’t do much to protect you, the Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams reports. In a tweet, he said, “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
- If you’re a coronavirus patient: let your doctor decide.
How effective are hand sanitizers?
- Hand sanitizers are not as effective as washing hands with soap.
- Sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol kills the virus it comes in contact with, but it does not remove the microorganisms from the skin.
What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?
- The CDC says: “Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.”
- In other words, quarantine is a preventative measure and isolation is reactive to avoid spreading the virus to others.
How should I stock up my house? What are services that might be affected?
- If you’re worried you might soon be affected by a future lockdown on mandatory quarantine (like in China and Italy), the CDC recommends stocking up on food and necessities, especially if you’re older or part of a vulnerable population.
- FOOD: The New York Times says buy things that’ll last. Think: pasta, rice, beans, stocks, cured meats, eggs, frozen fruits and veggies, nut butters, dried fruit and nuts, butter, root vegetables, onions and spices.
- MEDICINE: Stock up on prescription drugs, if necessary. NPR reports that some insurance companies are loosening their refill restrictions. Make sure you have normal flu and cold medicine to treat sickness at home.
- Buy hand sanitizer, but not more than you need. Soap is better. Don’t buy masks – leave those for hospital professionals.
- The U.S. is unlikely to lose power because of the coronavirus. Same with tap water supply.
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