A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is infecting people and spreading easily from person-to-person. Cases have been detected in most countries worldwide and community spread is being detected in a growing number of countries.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed. Avoid close contact.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
- Older adults
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like such as:
Heart disease – Diabetes – Lung disease
- People on immune suppressant medications. Autoimmune Encephalitis would fall under the category of ‘chronic medical condition’.
Protect yourself and your community from COVID-19
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
How is COVID-19 (or “coronavirus disease 2019”) treated?
- Treatment currently focuses on managing symptoms and protecting your family and community through self-quarantine. Not all patients with COVID-19 will require medical attention, and most people recover within 2 weeks without any specific treatment. But hospitalization can be required for severe cases. (Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease are at a higher risk of getting very sick from this virus.)
- Your healthcare provider can help determine whether monitoring your condition in an inpatient or outpatient setting is right for you.
- If you and your healthcare provider determine that you will monitor your condition from home, ask about which over-the-counter medications they recommend—and be sure to rest, hydrate, and eat a balanced diet as best as you can.
- At this time, there is no vaccine or antiviral drug approved by the FDA to prevent or treat people with COVID-19.
Easing symptoms during a quarantine
If you’re experiencing symptoms and are in quarantine, here are some ways you can help ease your symptoms:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Remaining hydrated while sick helps your body fight the infection. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to drink 6–8 glasses (8oz/serving) of water a day. Foods with high water content—like some fruits, vegetables, and soups—also help keep you hydrated. Unsure if you’re getting enough fluids? If you’re well-hydrated, your urine should be a light color.
- Get rest. Rest for as long as you need. This may mean sleeping 8–10 hours per day, but that’s okay—your body needs it.
- Eat a balanced diet. Eating a balanced diet is ideal: try to choose lean protein sources as well as fruits and vegetables, which are rich sources of zinc and vitamins A, C, and E. All of these help support your immune system.
- Consider smaller, more frequent meals. Smaller meals are a great solution for quickly feeling full. Aiming for around 4–6 small meals per day may help maximize calorie intake once you’re past the acute phase of the infection (first 24–48 hours).
- Try a humidifier to help with breathing. Symptoms like congestion, runny nose, dry cough, and sore throat often make breathing feel challenging. But a humidifier can help ease congestion and coughs. (If you have a diagnosed respiratory condition like asthma, it may be a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider prior to using a humidifier.)
- Talk to your healthcare provider. Ask your provider about which over-the-counter pain reliever would be best for your symptoms.
Be sure to keep a close eye on your symptoms, and contact your healthcare provider if you notice your symptoms are severe, do not improve, or get worse. Seek medical attention right away if you experience any of the following:
- Severe shortness of breath
- Continuous pain or pressure in the chest
- Persistent fever greater than 102° F
Stay home until your healthcare provider says you no longer need to. Even if you no longer have any symptoms, follow recommendations for isolation until a healthcare provider has determined you can resume your normal activities. What to do if I’m Sick!
Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.
- Diluting your household bleach.
To make a bleach solution, mix:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
- Diluting your household bleach.
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face *This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning
For more information on the symptoms you should watch out for, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html