What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
In February, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. (source: CDC.gov)
Who is most affected by COVID-19?
The elderly (over age 65) and those with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease such as COPD, or obesity are at the greatest risk for serious effects from COVID-19. However, coronavirus does not discriminate. You have the personal responsibility to protect yourself and others in terms of public health.
How can I best protect myself and my family?
While there’s not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, the best prevention and treatments are methods that have been practiced for years when dealing with flu and respiratory illnesses. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Health officials remind people that preventive actions to help impede the spread of respiratory diseases include:
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
- stay home and avoid contact with persons in poor health
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then dispose of the tissue
- per CDC guidelines, cover the mouth and nose with a cloth face cover (NOT a facemask meant for a healthcare worker) whenever in public or around others
- wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing the nose, coughing or sneezing
- if soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
Should I wear a facemask?
A significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
According to the CDC it is especially important individuals cover the mouth and nose with a cloth face cover in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing, but is meant as a further protection. A cloth face cover should not be used on a child under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove it without assistance. Read more at CDC.gov
I think I might have coronavirus. What should I do next?
If you believe you are having an emergency, please call 9-1-1. If not, contact your medical provider and follow directions given. An internet search will provide names, addresses and phone numbers for medical providers in your area. In Monroe County, click here for testing, private care physicians and hospitals.
COVID-19 is most transmissible indoors under close, sustained contact. It is recommended that individuals avoid contact with other individuals in closed-in or poorly ventilated settings with little air circulation if he/she:
- is a contact to a known or suspected case of COVID-19
- is over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions
- is immune compromised
- is ill
- has been exposed to someone with a respiratory illness in the last 14 days
- has chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease
- has traveled internationally within the last 14 days, especially to destinations under a level 3 travel advisory
- has traveled to or from a geographic area with widespread community transmission of COVID-19
For information about coronavirus (COVID-19) and preventive techniques, visit these trusted resources:
Florida’s state health department established a dedicated COVID-19 hotline at 1-866-779-6121. The call center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.