Coronavirus (COVID-19): What is it + 5 Ways to Protect Yourself

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus disease 2019, also referred to as COVID-19, is a viral respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 emerged in the United States when the first case was reported on January 21, 2020. The virus spreads primarily through close interpersonal contact via respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 can produce symptoms that vary from a mid or severe respiratory illness. Older adults and those with existing chronic medical conditions, including heart or lung disease or diabetes appear to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications. If you are exposed, the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

How can I Protect Myself and My Family?

1. Clean your hands well and often.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. Scrub vigorously for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating, after touching high-traffic areas and objects, and after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid unnecessary trips to crowded areas, and refrain from close contact such as handshakes.

Stay home if you are sick, except to seek medical care.

3. Cover your coughs and sneezes.

Make sure you are covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Immediately after, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

4. Wear a face mask ONLY if you are sick.

The CDC advises that healthy people do NOT need to wear face masks unless they are caring for sick individuals who cannot wear one themselves. If you are sick, wear a mask when you are around other people to avoid the spread of disease. Otherwise, save these supplies for caregivers and healthcare professionals.

5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

If surfaces are visibly dirty, clean them first using detergent or soap and water, then disinfect using a household disinfectant such as diluted bleach.

Frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, phones, keyboards, toilets, and faucets should be disinfected daily.

Don’t let the fear of exposure prevent you from seeking the care you need.

Connect with a Baptist Health provider from the comfort of your own home with Baptist Health Virtual Care video or eVisits.

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