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Coronaviruses and flu viruses are not the same. The differences are very important.
COVID-19 uses the receptor ACE2 to enter our bodies. This means it uses this enzyme as the entryway into our cardiovascular system. In humans, ACE2 is an enzyme that impacts blood pressure. This is why COVID-19 primarily impacts the cardiovascular system, causing inflammation.
The CDC believes that COVID-19 spreads as easily as the common flu virus.
The virus can be spread from someone who is asymptomatic.
There have been reports of COVID-19’s presence in the stool of some of the people infected with the virus. As such, transmission through food from people infected with the virus may be possible.
Avoid handshakes as the virus is easily transmitted from hand to hand contact. Some people are recommending fist bumping instead, but that may be faulty advice. If someone has sneezed or coughed into their unprotected hand and not disinfected their hand afterward, the virus may be on the sides of someone’s fingers or even the backs of their hand. Therefore, it’s best to avoid touching hands at all.
The virus is active on hard surfaces and soft surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses may remain active on surfaces anywhere from several hours to several days. It is viable on plastic and stainless steel for 2-3 days, cardboard up to 24 hours, and copper for 4 hours. As such, it’s best to bring, use, and disinfect your own eating utensils (anything that goes directly into your mouth such as forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks, straws) when you eat out. Use straws and do not share food or beverages with other people. Read J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide for more information.
According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 can show up 2-14 days after initial exposure, with the average time being five days. Currently acknowledged major symptoms are dry cough, high fever, sore throat, shortness of breath or other trouble breathing, and fatigue. These symptoms are due to respiratory inflammation. Symptoms that are not associated with the virus are a runny nose or other symptoms of a common cold.
People with mild symptoms may recover in just a few days. A study published in Science on March 16, 2020 estimates that 86% of the cases of COVID-19 in China were undocumented, “many of whom were likely not severely symptomatic.” Because this is a virus, it may turn into viral pneumonia, which is when the infection is considered mild to severe. Pneumonia can take weeks for recovery. If the pneumonia becomes severe, it can take months for recovery. Patients who develop severe pneumonia can develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can cause permanent scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis). People with symptoms of pneumonia need to get tested for the virus. A severe infection by the virus is pneumonia that requires oxygen (assistance with breathing), while a critical infection by the virus is organ failure. 80% of cases are “mild,” which can mean “walking” pneumonia. 20% of cases are severe or critical. It is common to have a “mild” case with little to some breathing difficulty until the second week of infection, when patients often “crash” and then require oxygen.
If your symptoms are not as severe, you can likely care for yourself at home. Call your primary medical provider first to get their recommendation. If you care for yourself at home, you must self-isolate for two weeks (14 days) to be certain you have cleared the virus. You may have been carrying the virus for two weeks prior to symptoms starting, so be sure to inform anyone you have been in close contact with over the prior two weeks that you are now ill.
A Kaiser Family Foundation study determined that about 4 in 10 adults (18+) in the United States have a higher risk of developing a serious illness if they get the infection, either due to their age (60+) or because of an underlying health condition. That’s 105.5 million adults in the United States who are at greater risk from the virus.
The virus has reappeared in those previously thought to have cleared the virus (those discharged from hospitals), but it may not be contagious then. Coronavirus is most contagious before and during the first week of symptoms.
There’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Learn the difference and how to properly disinfect common household items.
Things to focus on frequently disinfecting:
If you have a case on your phone, remember to take the case off to clean in the crevices of the case. This can be done with tools made specifically for this purpose, or with Q-Tips.
If you use a water bottle, be sure to completely disinfect the bottle (and straw!) at the end of every day and/or use different bottles as frequently as possible.
Wash your bath and kitchen towels after every use if you can, and if you can’t, wash them once a week in hot water. Dry them on hot, too, if you have access to a dryer.
If you’re not sick, wash your bedding once per week. If you do get sick, try to wash your bedding as soon as you’re feeling well enough.
If you do get sick, be sure to change to a new toothbrush once you no longer carry the virus (have symptoms).