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What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus

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small viruses under the microscope; What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be front page in the news. Community transmission is being reported in the United States. UnityPoint Health is strictly following CDC guidelines and remains in regular contact with local, state and national public health officials to help to keep everyone safe. Infectious Disease Specialist, Rosanna Rosa, MD, UnityPoint Health, provides accurate information on your top Coronavirus questions.

What Is the Coronavirus?

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new type of virus that belongs to a large family of viruses called Coronaviruses. Many of these infect humans, others infect animals, but this new strain has not been seen in humans before.

How Did Coronavirus Start Spreading?

It seems to have originated in Wuhan, China. Early reports were linking cases to the seafood and animal market there. 

What Are Coronavirus Symptoms?

Many people experience fever, cough and shortness of breath. However, other symptoms can include: 

  • Chills 
  • Muscle pain
  • New loss of taste or smell 
  • Sore throat

How Is Coronavirus Transmitted Between People?

It is transmitted through respiratory droplets, which are essentially just tiny particles that are put out there into the world 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. According to the CDC, it may be possible for someone to get the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Is Coronavirus Treatable?

Right now, there is no specific medication or vaccine to prevent COVID-19. There are some treatments available to help treat those who contract the virus. Studies show an antiviral called remdesivir does seem to shorten the length of a COVID-19 infection and seems to help improve symptoms. There’s also new, promising results starting to come out about a steroid called dexamethasone. The results show it helps reduce death in some patients who are seriously ill with the virus. Plasma from people who’ve recuperated is also being used to help those who are fighting COVID-19. 

Who Is Most at Risk for Coronavirus?

We know there is what we call a spectrum of illness. Many people have had what would be considered a mild illness including some fever and some body aches. But, others have gotten really sick. The information in large case reports from China continues to support that it's elderly patients and patients with underlying illnesses that are at the highest risk of developing severe illness or even death. To define further, that means elderly patients and those who have underlying heart disease, chronic lung disease, and conditions along those lines.

What Are We Doing at UnityPoint Health?

We are following guidance provided by public health department in our states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At our facilities, we are screening patients for symptoms and testing as appropriate. It’s important to call first before heading into a health care facility if you’ve been in contact with the virus.

What Happens if There’s a Positive Test?

Ultimately, where and how a person is treated will depend on how sick they are. If the illness is mild, then it's best to follow CDC guidance on staying home, separating from others and monitoring symptoms for change. If a person is severely ill and needs to come to the hospital, then we'd admit them and follow all the infection prevention precautions during hospitalization.

What Can Help Protect Us from All Viruses?

The best prevention is masking, handwashing and physical distancing (staying 6 feet away from others). It's important to avoid contact with people who are sick. And, if you are sick yourself, stay home. Then the other thing is to keep commonly used surfaces at your home clean. 

Where Can We Find Accurate Coronavirus Information?

You can find accurate and updated information from us at UnityPoint Health and from the CDC. It is encouraging to see that CDC has been partnering with some of the big internet browser companies to make their results pop to the top of your during searches.