(WKBN) – The Centers for Disease Control is monitoring the coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.
Updates are posted daily on the CDC website.
While the monitoring of COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation, there are many things we know about the spread and prevention of the virus.
The most commonly asked questions about the virus are listed and answered below. (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
- Where did the virus come from? Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.
- What are the symptoms? Fever, cough, shortness of breath. Call your doctor if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of the virus.
- What does community spread mean? Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed.
- How does the virus spread? The virus is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- How serious is the virus? The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases.
- Who is most at risk? For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example, seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
- What will happen next? More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, and workplaces, may experience more absenteeism. Mass gatherings may be sparsely attended or postponed. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and sectors of the transportation industry may also be affected. Healthcare providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed.
- What can I do? Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public areas, avoid touching your face and eyes, clean and disinfect your home, avoid crowds, and avoid all non-essential travel.
For more detailed information on COVID-19, go to cdc.gov.