Under the microscope, a coronavirus is
surrounded by a spiky array that
resembles a corona, or crown.
Welcome to our special edition covering the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic as we attempt to track the disease within the US and around the world.
In an effort to accurately report on the facts about COVID-19, just up ahead you'll find the latest official information from local, federal and international governments -- including coronavirus news and updates, maps and charts, medical advice on typical coronavirus symptoms, ways to stay safe, what to do if you think you may have the virus, and where to find more information from expert resources around the web.
Although it is widely reported that younger populations are more capable of fighting off the disease, older adults and people of any age with underlying health conditions - such as asthma, diabetes, lung disease or heart disease - must be carefully monitored. Cancer patients and the immunocompromised are also at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
COVID-19 is an airborne virus that typically
enters through the
mouth or nasal passage
travels to lodge deep in the lungs.
Although symptoms may mimic the flu in
mild cases, this
may have life-
on those with asthma,
diabetes, heart or kidney disease.
For those at higher risk, more severe symptoms include:
If you are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19:
• Take precautions to keep space between yourself and others in stores, restaurants and all other public areas.
• Avoid large crowds as much as possible.
• Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
• If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.
What to do if you suspect that you are infected with the coronavirus:
• If you think your symptoms are caused by COVID-19, call ahead before visiting your doctor or local emergency room.
This will help nurses and other staff take appropriate steps to prevent others from getting infected or exposed. (Currently, if you report mild symptoms, don't be surprised if you are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. This allows a possibly overwhelmed staff to attend to more serious cases.)
• Wear a face mask to the doctor's office. If one is not available, a mask will probably be provided for you before you enter the doctor's office.
• If symptoms have become severe enough, hospitalization will be required. For milder cases, you will be asked to self-quarantine as you recover at home, with possible follow-up visits to your doctor to monitor your condition.
Simple ways for everyone else to keep the disease from spreading:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Coronavirus Buzzwords - COVID-19 glossary of terms
asymptomatic - showing no evidence of disease. An individual may be infected with the virus, but they have no outward signs or symptoms.
CDC - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency overseeing the pandemic in the United States.
community spread - a stage of contagion when a virus is being easily passed locally, person-to-person.
coronavirus - any virus within the family Coronaviridae, such as SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. Coronaviruses appear under a microscope with a spiky array thought to look like a corona, or a crown.
COVID-19 - the acronym for the new coronavirus disease plus the year it was first discovered - 2019.
epidemiology - a branch of medicine dedicated to the study of disease in large populations and pinpointing the source and cause of infectious diseases.
flatten the curve - a phrase that describes efforts to slow the numbers of cases of disease (usually shown in a chart) to keep local health resources from being depleted.
"Flatten the curve"
is a term used to describe an attempt to stem the spread of a contagious disease
by hand washing and social distancing to keep hospital resources from being completely overwhelmed.
immunocompromised - having an insufficient immune system to fight off infection.
incubation period - the period between infection and when symptoms first appear. The incubation period for the coronavirus is 14 days or less.
novel - refers to a virus that is newly discovered.
pandemic - when an infectious disease spreads over a country, continent or worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines pandemic as a disease that has spread worldwide.
quarantine - an order from a public health organization that isolates invidivudals who are not currently infected but may have been exposed to an infectious disease.
R0 number - usually pronounced "R zero" or "R naught", the R0 number measures how easily a virus spreads or reproduces. The coronavirus has an R0 number measuring 2.2. The seasonal flu has an RO number of 1.3.
self-quarantine - voluntary isolation by individuals who suspect they have been exposed to an infectious disease to help prevent it from spreading to their community.
screening - a patient examination that involves taking their temperature, inquiring about symptoms, and asking about possible exposures to infected people.
social distancing - refers to measures that reduce close contact among large groups of people, such as canceling church services, concerts, and sporting events, asking employees to work from home, and restricting travel.
vector - an organism that transmits disease such as ticks, mosquitoes. or even people when they host an airborne viral disease that infects others.
viral infection - a disease caused by a microscopic virus that reproduces in the body causing disruption to otherwise healthy bodily functions. For most viral infections, treatments can only help with symptoms while your immune system fights off the virus. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections.
Myths about COVID-19 coronavirus
Myth: ‘Face masks don’t work’
While wearing a face mask is not an iron-clad guarantee against developing the coronavirus, masks are recommended for those who work around those who are infected. They are also recommended for those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to lower the chances of transmission. If you do choose to wear a mask, make sure it covers your nose and mouth snugly. NOTE: When removing the mask, do not touch it, but use the soft elastic cords (that fit around your ears) instead. This is to avoid transferring the virus from the mask to your hands and fingers.
Myth: ‘It is no more dangerous than the flu’
While some people may experience nothing more than flu-like symptoms, COVID-19 differs from the common flu in that it may develop into more serious conditions like pneumonia, or seriously complicate other health conditions. The most telling detail is the death rate from COVID-19. It is 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu.
Myth: ‘It only kills the elderly’
While it has been generally true that the elderly (especially those with underlying health conditions) are more prone to contracting Covid-19, younger individuals are urged not to let their guard down. Along with a recent up-tick in cases reported in a younger age group, the disease is still too new to know exactly who it will spread to, or how. Younger people with existing conditions like asthma are also more prone to developing serious respiratory symptoms associated with Covid-19.
Myth: ‘A vaccine could be ready within months’
Although pharmaceutical labs are rapidly developing a vaccine to fight Covid-19, there remains a lengthy testing period including trials on animals and human volunteers. Clinical trials are absolutely necessary before any vaccine can be made available. This to uncover any serious side effects that the vaccine may produce before it is released. So expect at least 1 year before a vaccine is available to the general public.
Myth: 'I live in a hot climate so I don't have to worry'
Quoting from the World Health Organization, "From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19."
We're All In This Together
Freebies, special offers, and tips for parents with kids home from school during the coronovirus outbreak
Around the Web check out top resources for more information and updates on the pandemic...
John Hopkins Resource Center
- Check out encyclopedic knowledge on the topic including daily situational reports, how to protect yourself from the virus, a Covid-19 interactive map tracking the disease worldwide, and a very informative FAQ.
- The US Centers for Disease Control provides an extensive section where you can find out more about the coronavirus including maps and charts, tips on personal care including symptoms and treatment, along with additional resources aimed at schools and health professionals.