Essential Facts About COVID-19

Essential Facts About COVID-19

COVID-19 Basics:


The official name of the virus is “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” or SARS-CoV-2. It’s a variation of coronavirus that caused the SARS epidemic. The name of the disease is COVID-19. 

Coronavirus Types:
There are four types of common human coronavirus that infect people around the world regularly. There are three other known human coronaviruses that are of a more lethal nature: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and now SARS-CoV-2, according to the CDC. SARS caused 8,098 people to be infected worldwide, with 774 deaths. By the end of January 2020, a total of 2519 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS, including 866 associated deaths, had been reported to globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Coronavirus vs. Influenza:
Coronavirus is different than seasonal flu, and it's different than Swine Flu (H1N1), which caused about 12,469 deaths in the U.S. and at least an estimated 151,700 worldwide in 2009. For the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC estimates 39-55 million influenza cases, 18-26 million influenza medical visits, 400-730 thousand influenza hospitalizations, and 24-63 thousand influenza deaths in the U.S. alone.

Origin of SARS-CoV-2:
Although China has been saying SARS-CoV-2 originated in America, government and news sources agree that it came from China. For a while, it was being called the “China flu” or the “Wuhan flu.” Although the Chinese first blamed bats sold at a Wuhan market place for the spread of the virus from animal to human, later reports say that kind of bat was never sold at that market place. In addition, just three miles from the Wuhan market, is 
the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where virus research is taking place using bats. Thus, there is some speculation that the virus was inadvertently released from that facility.

Four Presentations:
According to respiratory physician John Wilson, people who are infected with COVID-19 fall into four categories:

  • Sub-clinical - have the virus but have no symptoms
  • Upper Respiratory Infection - fever, cough,  and maybe headache or conjunctivitis (minor symptoms)
  • Flu-like symptoms that would usually keep them from going to work
  • Severe illness that features pneumonia

Transmission and Symptoms:
Although there are questions about exactly how the virus is spread and how long of an exposure is necessary to transmit the virus, it penetrates the body through the nose, eyes and mouth. The duration of viral shedding and the period of infectiousness are not yet known. Estimates from exposure to illness range from 2-14 days, with some saying it can be as long as 27 days. Some of those with the infection may be asymptomatic. They will not experience any sense of illness, and the CDC is uncertain of their ability to transmit the disease. According to the CDC and the Mayo Clinic, those with symptoms will likely experience:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Tiredness
  • Aches
  • Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Loss of Smell or Taste

The time to seek medical attention, according to the CDC and Mayo Clinic, is when a person has:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
  • NOTE: this is not an inclusive list. Contact your doctor with concerns.

The CDC gives specific recommendations. Many people will be able to recover at home. However, if individuals experience trouble breathing, chest pain or other serious symptoms, they should seek medical attention. If they are able to call ahead, the facility will appreciate the notice so staff are prepared for the person’s arrival with protective personal equipment (PPE).

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