What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified as part of an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
What's a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in people. (https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus)
How worried should I be?
Right now, public experts in the United States are recommending that people do not panic, but are prepared and practice social distancing as the best way to keep themselves and each other safe. While most people who become infected do not have serious symptoms requiring hospitalization, there are no FDA approved vaccines for preventing its spread. It is also possible for asymptomatic people to have coronavirus and pass it along to others. The best way to avoid becoming infected and infecting others is to practice social distancing. When you must go out, wear a mask to protect yourself and others.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is the public health intervention that recommends people avoid crowds and gatherings. Best practice requires staying home and away from others as much as possible and maintaining at least a six-foot distance between yourself and others when you need to leave the house. Social distancing and practicing good preventative care can save lives.
What should I be doing now?
There are simple preventive actions that help stop the spread of viruses, including COVID-19. These include:
Stigma and discrimination can often occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality. You should know that stigma hurts everyone by creating fear or anger towards ordinary people. Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.
Help counter stigma:
Not everything you hear about COVID-19 is true. Make sure you are taking advice from public health experts, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Share reliable information and speak out if you see or hear myths or rumors, which can be damaging to public health. The United Nations also offers reports and policy briefs on COVID-19.
See a list of common myths and the facts here.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 24). About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March 12). If You Are At Higher Risk. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, July 12). Show Me the Science - How To Wash Your Hands. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 21). Stigma Related to COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/related-stigma.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, October 3). When and How to Wash Your Hands. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
COVID-Explained. Online resource for people to learn more about the facts behind the COVID-19 virus.
EPI-WIN. (2020). Myth busters. World Health Organization. https://www.epi-win.com/advice-and-information/myth-busters
Gharib, M. (2020, February 21) Fake Facts Are Flying About Coronavirus. Now There's a Plan to Debunk Them. Goats and Soda, NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/21/805287609/theres-a-flood-of-fake-news-about-coronavirus-and-a-plan-to-stop-it
Godoy, M. (2020, February 26). A Guide: How to Prepare Your Home for Coronavirus. Goats and Soda, NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/26/809650625/a-guide-how-to-prepare-your-home-for-coronavirus
World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus