What You Should Know About The Novel Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

By Madisson Haynes

Following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, communities across the country are trying to prevent any further spread. While cases of COVID-19 have been documented in more than 60 countries and more cases are being reported in the United States, health officials are working to increase awareness of the virus and help diminish misleading claims or false information.

What is COVID-19?

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new coronavirus that hasn't been previously identified. The virus causing COVID-19 isn't the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness like the common cold.

A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 isn't the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and treated differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis, the Centers for Disease Control said.

The CDC is updating its Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page regularly at noon, Mondays through Fridays. Numbers close out at 4 p.m. the day before reporting.

Where Did COVID-19 Come From?

The CDC said coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some of which cause illness in people, others cause illness in animals only. Rarely, coronaviruses that infect animals have infected people as well and can be spread between people.

This is what the CDC thinks happened for the virus that caused COVID-19.

"Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people," the CDC said.

What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus

Here's what you need to know about COVID-19. An expert answers coronavirus questions on Direct Connection.

COVID-19 Myths

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, the CDC said. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, now the virus is spreading from person to person.

"The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas," the CDC said.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who aren't sure how or where they became infected.

Infectious Disease Expert Explains How Coronavirus Spreads

Dr. W. Ian Lipkin is an infectious disease expert at Columbia University who is fresh out of quarantine after traveling to China, where he was studying the coronavirus outbreak. The virus has now infected nearly 94,000 people around the world with more than 3,000 deaths. Lipkin sits down with Walter Isaacson to explain how the virus spreads and how people can avoid catching it.

A Pandemic Expert Questions Speed of U.S. COVID-19 Response

As the threat of novel coronavirus looms over the U.S. and the globe, the CDC has taken steps to make testing kits available more broadly. But questions remain about the readiness of the government and the health system to cope with a major surge in infections. The Virome Project’s Dennis Carroll, former USAID director for pandemic influenza and emerging threats, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

Current CDC Risk Assessment

The CDC has assessed risk of exposure to the virus.

  • "For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
  • People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though still relatively low risk of exposure.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure."

How Americans Can Prepare For Broader Outbreak of COVID-19

After infecting tens of thousands in China, the novel coronavirus has reached dozens of other countries. Public health officials say it’s almost inevitable the illness will spread more extensively within the U.S. So what do we know about COVID-19 and how can we prepare for a broader outbreak? Amna Nawaz reports and talks to Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine.

Prevention, Symptoms and Treatment of COVID-19

There's currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC recommends preventive actions every day to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you're sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

The CDC doesn't recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings.

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for COVID-19 cases, the CDC said. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

There's no specific treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should get care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions, the CDC said.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Washington State Coronavirus Outbreak 'A Mystery So Far'

The coronavirus has now spread to more than 60 countries and more confirmed cases are being reported in the United States. Washington reported the first U.S. death from the virus as new cases continue to emerge in the state. Los Angeles Times Seattle Bureau Chief Richard Read joins Hari Sreenivasan for more on the state's outbreak.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus

How do you explain the concept of germs for kids to understand? Do you just tell them to wash their hands and hope they get the importance? When it comes to germs, it's important for kids to learn the facts in a digestible way -- one that's not too daunting. So how do you explain to them the coronavirus?

A quote by Mr. Rogers guides us through that challenging question: "Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.”

Here's a few tips to help navigate the conversation, courtesy of PBS Kids.

First, share age-appropriate facts and corrected misinformation

Second, reassure them that they're safe.

Third, emphasize simple things your family can do to be “germ busters” — for all types of germs that are out there, including hand washing, covering your cough and practicing healthy habits.

You can also use PBS resources to help teach your children. In this Curious George clip, the Man with the Yellow Hat has a cold. Curious George learns how germs can move from person to person and that it's important to wash your hands.

Daniel Tiger is also a great resource. This Daniel Tiger clip, "Germs, Germs Go Away. Don’t come back any day," provides tips to keep germs away by washing hands and coughing into your elbow.

Dr. Paul Offit: Why Coronavirus Will Be Hard to Contain

Vaccinology expert Dr. Paul Offit joins Amanpour & Co. to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

How Ready Are We for COVID-19?

Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm assesses the challenges posed by COVID-19.

What Novel Coronavirus Might Mean For 2020 Global Economy

Economic worries sparked by the global outbreak of novel coronavirus are pushing major stock indexes lower -- down at least 10% from recent record highs. More than $2 trillion of value have been wiped out this week, translating to the fastest market correction to happen in 50 years. Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist for Charles Schwab and Company, joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.

Coronavirus' Impact on Wall Street

Maryland Public Television's "Direct Connection" discusses the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak on Wall Street.

Economist's Opinion on How U.S. Government Should React to Virus' Economic Impact

Across the U.S., concerns over novel coronavirus have governments, businesses and individuals putting normal operations on hold. With events and travel canceled and more people staying home, what is the economic impact likely to be, and how should U.S. policy address it? Judy Woodruff reports and talks to Carl Tannenbaum, executive vice president and chief economist at Northern Trust.

With the Coronavirus, ‘Pay Attention to the Basics’

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., the National Institute of Health advised vulnerable people, particularly the elderly with underlying health conditions, to avoid large crowds and trips. ProPublica reporter Caroline Chen, who has been reporting on the virus, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss what people need to understand about testing, infection rates and more.

Coronavirus State of Emergency

Here's the latest on the panic, the confusion, and the city and statewide response to this outbreak. Medical expert and veteran journalist, Dr. Bob Arnot gives us the facts you need to know.

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