After much warning this was coming the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020. This declaration comes as the virus continues to spread globally infecting communities at a rapid rate.
The CDC says a pandemic is declared when viruses “are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way.” The last pandemic we saw was H1N1 (swine flu) in 2009.
This sounds scary, and it is, but keep in mind that “pandemic” does not refer to the severity of the disease, rather how widespread it is.
Approximately 7 million cases have been confirmed in the U.S. as of September 21, 2020. There have been approximately 204,167 US deaths. Health departments and communities should be prepared for these numbers to rise.
The United States continues to see problems related to the virus, such as drug manufacturing shortages and the unpredictable stock market.
Let’s talk more about what the coronavirus is, how to stay safe, and what to expect as the virus continues to spread around the world.
What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness in both animals and humans. Existing coronaviruses cause everything from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
This new strain of coronavirus has been labeled COVID-19 and was first discovered in Wuhan, China, in 2019.
What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
Fever, dry cough, and tiredness are the most common symptoms of COVID-19. Other symptoms may include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Aches and pains
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
The CDC has listed new symptoms of COVID-19 that may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. They include:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
These symptoms are mild for most people, and some people can be infected without showing any signs.
Around 80% of people with COVID-19 don’t need any special treatment to recover. About 1 in 6 people, especially those who are older and have underlying health problems, become seriously ill and have trouble breathing. The global death rate is around 3.4%.
If you’re experiencing a fever, cough, and trouble breathing, you should call your doctor and ask where to seek medical attention. Do not just show up at the doctors office, call ahead.
Your local area may have one or more specific locations where they are treating COVID-19 patients to avoid risking the health of every healthcare practitioner in town.
How Can I Avoid Getting Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Here are some tips from the World Health Organization (WHO) on how to avoid getting the coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub to kill any viruses on your hands.
- Maintain social distancing. Try to stand at least 3 feet away from anybody who is coughing or sneezing to avoid breathing in droplets from their nose or mouth that may contain the virus.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose. If you have any virus on your hands, it can enter your body through your mucous membranes.
- Practice good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you sneeze or cough. Immediately dispose of used tissues.
- Seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough, and trouble breathing. Call your doctor to ask where you should seek treatment. Your city may be trying to treat all COVID-19 patients in select locations to prevent spreading the disease further.
- Stay informed. The situation with COVID-19 is continually changing as we learn more about the virus and as it spreads around the world.
How Many People Are Infected?
As of September 21, 2020, 31.3 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in 213 countries, and 966,203 people (mostly over the age of 60) have died. Over 22.9 million people have recovered.
The countries with the highest number of cases are:
Is There a Vaccine or Cure for Coronavirus?
No. Since COVID-19 is so new, there is not a vaccine yet, and since it’s a virus, antibiotics won’t cure it. Viruses are notoriously difficult to cure, and treatment usually revolves around managing the symptoms.
A vaccine is likely over a year away as development and testing takes time.
Read: What is Remdesivir?
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Worried That You Have COVID-19?
If you’re worried that you may have been exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19), you can have an online appointment with a doctor at PlushCare. While we are unable to provide testing at this time our doctors can discuss your symptoms, recommend and direct you to further medical care if necessary and review prevention measures.
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Read More About the Coronavirus
Abcnews.go.com. Coronavirus has ‘pandemic potential,’ WHO warns as US ramps up testing. Accessed on February 28, 2020 at https://abcnews.go.com/International/latest-american-infected-coronavirus-1st-case-community-spread/story?id=69251035
Abcnews.go.com. FDA reports 1st drug shortage due to novel coronavirus outbreak. Accessed on February 28, 2020 at https://abcnews.go.com/International/fda-reports-1st-drug-shortage-due-coronavirus-outbreak/story?id=69276490
Abcnews.go.com. Dow Jones plunges most since 2008 on coronavirus fears. Accessed on February 28, 2020 at https://abcnews.go.com/Business/dow-jones-plummets-1000-points-amid-coronavirus-uncertainty/story?id=69264423
World Health Organization. Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). Accessed on February 28, 2020 at https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
WorldOMeter. COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK. Accessed on February 28, 2020 at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries
New York Post. Israeli scientists claim to be weeks away from coronavirus vaccine. Accessed on February 28, 2020 at https://nypost.com/2020/02/28/israeli-scientists-claim-to-be-weeks-away-from-coronavirus-vaccine/
World Health Organization (WHO). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public. Accessed on February 28, 2020 at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public