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What is COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. The coronavirus is actually a large family of viruses that also includes SARS. COVID-19 is the specific illness related to the current outbreak. The acronym stands for “coronavirus disease 2019,” which refers to the year the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December. The name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2. The exact origin of this particular virus is still unknown.

What are the symptoms?

The World Health Organization says the most common symptoms are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does it spread?

People catch COVID-19 from other people who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from when a person coughs or exhales. Those droplets land on surfaces and other people can become infected by touching the objects and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Someone can also breathe in the droplets from someone who is sick and become infected. The WHO says it is currently unknown the virus can live on a surface. Local health experts say it is possible the virus can live on surfaces for 9 days.

According to Harvard Medical School, a recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly.

Surfaces to clean daily:

  • Doorknobs
  • Table surfaces
  • Chairs (seats, backs, arms)
  • Kitchen counters
  • Bathroom counters
  • Faucets and faucet knobs
  • Toilets (seat and handle)
  • Light switches
  • Remote controls
  • Game controllers

How to disinfect your devices:

According to the CDC, use a disinfecting wipe or alcohol solution that is at least 70 percent. Take the case off and clean everything underneath, and let it dry. It is safe for the devices to do it once daily.

Computer screens can be cleaned with an alcohol solution that’s at least 70 percent and a soft towel.

How long does it take to show symptoms?

According to a new study by the Annals of Internal Medicine, the coronavirus median incubation period is about 5 days, with most people developing symptoms within 12 days. That also explains why the CDC recommendation for self-quarantine is 14 days.

Is there a vaccine?

A vaccine and specific drug treatments are under investigation and being tested through clinical trials. To date, there is no vaccine.

Why are so many events being canceled and schools being closed?

According to Joan Hall, an epidemiologist with the Summit County Department of Health, health leaders know they won’t stop the spread but that they want to slow it so we don’t see a spike in illnesses that will overwhelm hospitals.

What about pets?

There is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States, according to the CDC.

Is my mail safe?

The virus is mainly thought to spread person-to-person, according to the CDC.

According to Harvard Health, the virus cannot live longer than 24 hours on cardboard or paper products, so using a disinfectant spray on packages or mail is not a bad idea.

Watch the video below to see an epidemiologist answer viewer questions.