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Coronavirus Disease 2019 covid 19 what you need to know

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The situation is changing daily leading to a lot of uncertainty. However, there are steps you can take to help lower your risk of contracting the virus. It starts with staying informed and keeping up with the latest recommendations.

Here are answers to some common questions about COVID-19.

What are coronavirus and COVID-19?
Human coronaviruses are a respiratory virus named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. We are currently aware of seven types of human coronaviruses. COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus.

What are the symptoms?
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately and/or call 911.
In adults, emergency warning signs* may include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • 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 immediately for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

How can I avoid getting COVID-19?
The following tips can help you avoid getting COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid crowds and close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently with either soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to seek medical care.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Reduce unnecessary travel.
  • Wear a mask when going out in public if you think you have a contagious respiratory infection.

The White House has issued the President’s new Coronavirus Guidelines for America — 15 Days to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). You can review these guidelines here.

Help Flatten the Curve through Social Distancing
COVID-19 is spread from person to person, typically through respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze but also through close contact with infected individuals. People may also spread the virus before they show any symptoms. That’s why we need to stop the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing. View more information on social distancing here.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?
If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately. Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.

Should I wear a face mask?
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed an order on July 30, 2020 mandating the wearing of masks indoors from August 1 – September 28, 2020. Continue to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet when speaking with someone who is showing symptoms.

Is there a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus is thought to be spread similar to influenza, where individuals can get it by coming into contact with droplets from the nose (through someone’s cough, sneeze, tissue or a surface they’ve touched.) You are more likely to become infected with COVID-19 if you are in close contact with someone that has the infection and is coughing or sneezing near you. The CDC defines “close contact” as being within about six feet of someone for a prolonged period of time without covering your face.

Additional Resources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Minnesota Department of Health