Book an appointment

Worried about the coronavirus?
Here’s what you should know

Sofie Wise

Leah McCabe

Read more posts by this author.

About Author — Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

W.H.O. Declares Coronavirus Pandemic

On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. What does that mean? What precautions should you take? And what in the world is “social distancing?”

Here’s the latest information on COVID-19 and what you need to know to protect yourself and others. 

What’s a Pandemic?

According to the WHO, “A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease.” COVID-19 is the first pandemic since the H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic in 2009. 

Labeling COVID-19 a pandemic isn’t cause for panic, however. “We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” reads a statement from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO.

With a pandemic the goal is no longer to stop the virus, but slow it down so health services aren’t overwhelmed all at once. This is why we’ve seen so many closures of offices, schools and cancellations of large events, to limit the amount of people potentially exposed. Also, keep in mind a pandemic does not refer to the severity of the disease, rather how widespread it is.

Social Distancing Vs Quarantine Vs Isolation

The WHO and other health officials are calling for “social distancing” to limit the spread of COVID-19. What is social distancing, and how does it differ from quarantine or isolation?

Quarantine is a way to monitor people who may have been exposed to the virus but aren’t showing symptoms, yet.

Quarantine keeps potentially infected people away from others who have not been infected.

Those under quarantine are often asked to stay home and avoid interacting with others for 14 days (the time it takes, on average, for somebody to start showing symptoms of COVID-19 after being exposed to the virus). 

Isolation goes a step farther than quarantine.

People who are known to have the virus are isolated to keep them away from people who aren’t sick.

A whole family may be quarantined in one home, but isolated individuals should be kept in separate rooms and use different bathrooms (when possible) from individuals who are not showing symptoms. 

Social distancing is a way to limit the spread of disease when you’re out in public.

The CDC defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.”

This is why so many events have been canceled and schools and offices closed.

Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

It’s currently cold and flu season. How do you know whether you actually have COVID-19? Here are the symptoms to look for:

  • Fever (in 88% of cases)
  • Dry cough (68%)
  • Fatigue (38%)
  • Sputum/phlegm production (33%)
  • Shortness of breath (20%)
  • Sore throat or headache (13%)

Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What can you do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19? 

  • Stay home as much as possible. 
  • When you go out, try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. 
  • Avoid large crowds. 
  • Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible
  • If you’ve been exposed, self quarantine
  • If you’re displaying symptoms call your doctor and see what your next steps should be.

At-Risk Populations

Currently, COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly and people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, or a compromised immune system.

This graph shows the increased mortality rate for the aging population for COVID-19.

Latest Information

Here is some of the latest information about COVID-19 (as of 9:00pm Western time on March 27, 2020):

  • 1,072,881 cases worldwide
  • 56,904 deaths worldwide
  • 226,052 recovered worldwide
  • 264,159 confirmed cases in the USA
  • 6,714 deaths in the USA
  • US travel ban from Europe, went into effect on Friday, March 13 at 23:59 ET.
  • The NBA has suspended the season, the NCAA March Madness games have also been canceled and the Big Ten canceled the remainder of the men’s basketball tournament. 
  • The Trump administration is recommending people convene in groups of 10 or less people.
  • The State Department has declared a level 4 travel advisory (the highest level) telling Americans not to travel abroad and those that are out of the country to return home.
  • At least 200 million people in 21 states, 47 counties and 14 cities are being urged to shelter in place and only leave home for necessities such as groceries or medicine.
  • The Senate passed a $2.2. trillion relief fund. Citizens making under $75,000 a year will be given $1,200. Learn more here.
  • The CDC is now recommending everyone wear face masks in public, even if you are not sick.

What to Do if You Think You’re Infected

If you think you have COVID-19, do NOT go straight to your doctor’s office.

If your symptoms are mild to moderate, you should be able to recover at home. There is no cure for COVID-19, so going to the doctor accomplishes nothing apart from spreading the disease and overwhelming the medical system. 

Call your doctor or local healthcare authorities and ask what they recommend you do based on your risk level, exposure, symptoms and general health.

As long as you aren’t having breathing problems, you should stay home and focus on getting rest and drinking fluids.

You can set up a phone or video appointment with one of our trusted and licensed PlushCare doctors by clicking here or calling (888) 498-0743.

They can give you more specific advice to help you start to feel better and answer any questions you may have. 

Currently, PlushCare doesn’t offer testing for COVID-19. However, we can offer general medical assistance. We are in the process of developing at-home testing with our partner lab.

If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, you should call your local health authorities and find out where to go. They may be directing all COVID-19 patients to a handful of prepared locations to limit the spread of the virus. 

Watch COVID-19 Spread Globally

Watch COVID-19 Spread in the U.S.

Read More About COVID-19


NPR. Coronavirus: COVID-19 Is Now Officially A Pandemic, WHO Says. Accessed on March 12, 2020 at

USA Today. Coronavirus: What is social distancing? When should I quarantine versus isolate? Accessed on March 12, 2020 at

World Health Organization. What Is a Pandemic? Accessed on March 12, 2020 at

WorldOMeter. COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak. Accessed on March 12, 2020 at

Respiratory Health

COVID-19 | The Uninsured and Working Class

COVID-19 | The Uninsured and Working Class As many of you already know, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO on March 11, 2020. This brings up many concerns, including the effect it will have on the 27 million uninsured Americans, those who have very high deductible plans, and the working class who may […]

Leah McCabe
Respiratory Health

COVID-19 | Medicare and Telehealth – What You Need to Know

Medicare and Telehealth – What You Need to Know In a White House press conference on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Medicare administrator Seema Verma announced that Medicare will immediately expand coverage for telemedicine nationwide to help seniors with health problems stay home to avoid the coronavirus. The goal is to give seniors access to healthcare […]

Leah McCabe
Respiratory Health

Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update 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. Read: W.H.O. Declares Coronavirus a Pandemic The CDC says a pandemic is declared when viruses “are able to […]

Leah McCabe
Respiratory Health

Caring for Someone With Coronavirus

Caring for Someone With Coronavirus As of March 27, 2020, the United States has the most known cases of the coronavirus in the world. According to the Center for Disease Control, most people who contract coronavirus will only experience mild symptoms and will recover at home, without professional medical attention. In March, the CDC released […]

Leah McCabe
Respiratory Health

3 Ways You Can Protect Your Lungs From Pollutants

This post was created in partnership with our friends at the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center, who are dedicated to bringing attention to the dangers of asbestos and the deadly form of cancer it causes, mesothelioma, that affects over 3,000 people per year in the U.S. 3 Small Ways You Can Protect Your Lungs From […]

Shannon Chapman