The new Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is a big deal.
It’s very likely even if you are infected you will survive without a problem, however, other people in your life could be at risk to have some pretty serious complications.
It’s not every day the theme parks shut down for weeks, so while this illness shouldn’t be underestimated, there’s nothing to gain from panicking — and below are the reasons why we shouldn’t panic anyway.
1. We know what the disease is and how to test
Within the first two weeks of the first case being reported in China, the virus had already been identified. Just days after that, a test to detect the virus was available. That information means scientists are that much closer to having vaccines and treatments available, as opposed to other viruses in the past which may have taken months or years to identify.
Locally, an Ocala-based company developed a drug that will be tested as possible coronavirus treatment.
2. It’s getting better in China where COVID-19 originated from
As of March 13—nearly 81,000 people in China have contracted the coronavirus, and at this point, nearly 52,000 of those have recovered. About 3,000 have died. This suggests although we do expect to see more cases in the United States, and unfortunately, more deaths, the vast majority of people that catch it should recover, and that in a few weeks, recovery numbers should be much higher around the world.
3. 80% of cases are mild
The virus seems to be worst in older adults and those with other health conditions, like chronic heart and lung conditions. Some may get the virus and never know it because they don’t develop symptoms. And for most who get it, the symptoms are generally mild and come on slowly. Be on the lookout for high fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing and body aches.
4. Children are not getting hit as hard
The CDC says children do not appear to be at higher risk than adults for contracting the virus, and in most cases, the symptoms presented are mild. The same guidelines for prevention are applicable to children as adults. An additional suggestion would be to make sure to launder items like safety blankets or favorite stuffed animals they carry around, especially in public, often in the warmest possible water and to dry completely before giving them back.
5. Most people recover
About half of the more than 137,000 people worldwide that have caught the virus have already recovered. Yes, more than 5,000 have died as of this writing, and it is expected to get worse before it gets better—but chances are high most people who get the virus will be fine. That said, it’s exceedingly important that people everywhere continue to practice social distance, frequent and thorough handwashing, and self-isolate immediately upon experiencing symptoms in order to help protect our most fragile neighbors.
6. Cleaning can help
Basic cleanliness and hygiene are really going to be your best defenses. We’re not sure where the frenzy over toilet paper came from, but what is helpful are products like disinfectants, hand soap and hand sanitizer. Wipe down surfaces after people come in contact with them, wash hands before entering and after leaving new places or before and after eating for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, stay at least 6 feet away from anyone that appears to be sick and avoid crowded or closed-in places with people as much as possible. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks).
7. Scientists are working on treatments right now
COVID-19 is being studied right now to completely unlock the mysteries associated with the virus, like exactly how easily it spreads, how deadly or how many cases there could be that have gone undetected. There are hundreds of articles in PubMed.gov documenting work on all kinds of research related to the virus, including treatments and vaccines.
8. Hopeful vaccines are already underway
Several different companies are working on vaccines and some say they are closer than others. It doesn’t mean one will be widely available anytime soon, as trials can last months and there are several phases that must occur for approval, not to mention manufacturing and distribution. Experts say it’s not likely at all that one will be available to stop the current spread of the virus, but could be extremely useful in future outbreaks.
9. Treatment trials are underway
According to Nature.com, more than 80 clinical trials have launched in China alone to test coronavirus treatments. But much like the vaccines, trials can take several months, so for the moment, it’s best to stock up on your favorite cough medicines, acetaminophen and ibuprofen for fever should you become ill.
10. It’s going to come whether we panic or not, so focusing on being prepared is the best plan
For most, being quarantined at home, at worst, will just make you stir crazy. If you’re lucky enough to avoid getting sick, take the time to get some honey-do list items checked off, or relax — and be happy you weren’t part of the spread that could potentially hurt high-risk individuals.
If you do start to feel sick, make the responsible decision to self-isolate to keep others around you safe. The general rule of thumb is to stay home for 14 days—that also includes returning from any international travel, even if you do not feel sick. Remember, some people can have the virus without symptoms, so you could be spreading it even if you feel fine.
If you have underlying chronic health issues, speak with your physicians now to come up with a plan in the event you do get sick. In some cases, they may get you directly admitted into a hospital. Regardless, they’ll be able to best direct you as to what to do if you begin experiencing symptoms.
If you’re having difficulty breathing or your fever doesn’t break after a couple of days, call your local hospital, clinic or urgent care to let them know you’ll be coming in, and wear a face mask once you leave your home. You can also call 911 for immediate medical attention.