COVID-19 Information and Resources

By M. Kristine Carbullido and Rita Albert

Published: 4/1/2020

Updated: 4/8/2020

We are currently living through unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This webpage is aimed to provide basic information that will help you understand COVID-19 and the life changes that accompany it. For more trusted, in-depth information please visit the CDC website. Recommendations regarding COVID-19 are continuously evolving and may differ by region! Always check your city, state, and national public health recommendations and local enforcement. We hope you all are safe and healthy during these times!

What is Coronavirus/COVID-19?

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a new respiratory disease that originated from China and first discovered in December of 2019. The disease was formally named novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 for short). The term “coronavirus” refers to the virus family name because all of the viruses have crown-like projections on their surfaces.1 These viruses are commonly found in animals but can mutate and infect humans.2 The name of the specific virus that causes COVID-19 is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). 

Where is COVID-19 Now?

As of April 8th 2020, cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all 50 U.S. States and the U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands). New York, New Jersey, and Michigan have the highest reported COVID-19 infections, respectively. COVID-19 also has been reported in 184 countries/regions.4

 These numbers are changing every day and are accurately reported by Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html.

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

When a person is first infected by SARS-CoV2, they may not show symptoms 3-13 days after. The period of time in which the infected person is not showing symptoms is called the “latency period” and is one of the reasons why quarantines last at least 14 days. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 can be very similar to the symptoms of the common cold and flu. 

This may include:3,7

  • Cough
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Body-aches
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Mild fevers (temperatures above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) 

More severe symptoms may indicate a worsening of the disease:7

  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe cough
  • High fever(temperatures above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)

People who are immunocompromised or with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, high blood pressure, and cancer, have a higher likelihood of complications from COVID-19.

If you feel ill and suspect an infection with COVID-19 and are having mild symptoms, please call your healthcare provider – most offices may now have a COVID-19 hotline that will help direct you to testing centers and make appointments.

How is COVID-19 Spread?

COVID-19 has the ability to spread from person to person. A person who is infected with COVID-19 can spread the virus through their saliva or nasal secretions. When the infected person sneezes or coughs, that creates respiratory droplets which contain the virus that is able to survive on surfaces (like tabletops, counters, doorknobs, hands, etc.) and in the air. When an infected person touches their face, the respiratory secretions can get on their hands and then spread to whatever they touch next.In controlled environments, researchers found that COVID-19 can live for:5

  • 3 hours in the air
  • 4 hours on copper
  • 24 hours on cardboard
  • 48-72 hours (2-3 days) on plastic and stainless steel.

The virus lasts the longest on plastic and stainless steel surfaces and the shortest when airborne. The virus can be spread in patients showing symptoms and patients showing little to no symptoms (asymptomatic). 

What Can I Do to Avoid COVID-19 Infection?

The following are several tips recommended by the World Health Organization and CDC for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (the World Health Organization and CDC suggest that this takes about as long as singing “Happy Birthday” two times). 
  • Avoid close contact with people you do not live with (at least 6 feet away) – “social distancing”
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Use a cloth face covering (see next section)
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects in your house –this includes your phone and laptop/computer!
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with other people, even those that live with you.
  • If you are someone who has a chronic illness that leads to a higher likelihood of COVID-19 complications, some strongly recommend self-quarantine at home.

How to Use and Create a Cloth Face Covering

On April 3rd, 2020 the CDC updated their recommendations to include the use of a cloth face covering for preventing the spread of COVID-19.9 Persistence of the virus with little to no symptoms increases the likelihood of asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic people being undiagnosed and unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others around them. The use of a cloth face covering in public reduces the risk of spread in addition to social distancing of 6 feet between individuals. 

It is important to highlight that the CDC recommends face coverings as cloth-based, not surgical masks or N95 masks that are used in hospitals and clinics. Please remember surgical masks and N95 masks should be used conservatively to protect the healthcare professional at the frontlines of this pandemic and confirmed COVID-19 patients. 

There are a variety of ways to fashion a piece of clothing to create a cloth mask. Using paper towels, handkerchiefs, bandanas, or repurposing old clothes to create cloth masks are great options. The CDC has some graphics showing how to create a cloth mask from scratch material, an old t-shirt, and a bandana with a coffee filter. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

This youtube video by the Washington Post provides great step-by-step instructions to creating a mask. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGtY_-qXy98. Recycling old fabrics can offer personality and style to your mask -who says a face mask can’t be fashionable? 

Please remember that the use of a cloth mask does not mean that you are now safe from contracting the disease in public. You should still take care to be at least 6 feet from others to practice social distancing!

 

What is “Flattening the Curve’?

“Flattening the curve” describes a decrease in the speed of spread and number of people infected with COVID-19 during a short period of time. The goal of flattening the curve is to prevent overcrowding in hospitals with patients that have COVID-19. This is achieved by social distancing, not gathering in crowds, avoiding heavily trafficked public areas, and limiting trips outside your home unless absolutely necessary (necessary activities include grocery shopping, certain jobs, healthcare, etc.). The Washington Post article “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve’” does a fantastic job of providing animations on how our actions can affect the spread of COVID-19. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

Your Well-being

We are currently living through a historical pandemic which can increase feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Social-distancing can feel isolating and depressing. Moreover, social changes such as working from home, taking care of kids whose schools were shut down, or losing a job adds significant additional pressures. Please take the time to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Seek the help of a counselor/therapist when you need and take breaks from reading/watching COVID-19 news. Establish self-care, take a walk outdoors (depending on your local public health policies), and use video-conferencing platforms (Zoom, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc.) to keep in contact with loved ones you cannot visit, especially the elderly or those with chronic diseases who are more likely to be self-quarantined at home.  The following is a list of great podcasts that provide some advice on living through the COVID-19 Pandemic:

Helpful Links:

Center for Disease Control (United States National Health Protection Agency)

 

References

    1. Coronavirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed 15 Feb 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html. Accessed 30 Mar 2020
    2. Coronaviruses. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses. Accessed 30 Mar 2020
    3. What you need to know about coronaviruses disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published 20 Mar 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf. Accessed 30 Mar 2020
    4. Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Updated: daily. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html Accessed 8 Apr 2020.
    5. van Doremalen N, Bushmaker T, Morris DH, Holbrook MG, Gamble A, Williamson BN, Tamin A, Harcourt JL, Thornburg NJ, Gerber SI, Lloyd-Smith JO, de Wit E, Munster VJ. Aerosol and surface stability of HCoV-19 (SARS-CoV-2) compared to SARS-CoV-1. N Engl J Med. 2020 Mar 17. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 32182409.
    6. Study suggests new coronavirus may remain on surface for days. National Institutes of Health. Published 24 Mar 2020. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/study-suggests-new-coronavirus-may-remain-surfaces-days Accessed 30 Mar 2020
    7. COVID-10 Basics. Harvard Health Publishing. Published March 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-basics. Accessed 30 Mar 2020.
    8. Coronavirus Resource Center. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center#Terms. Accessed 8 Apr 2020
    9. Recommendations for Cloth Face Covers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reviewed 3 Apr 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html. Accessed 8 Apr 2020.
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