Covid-19 is the official name for the disease caused by the 2019 novel (new) coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China. There are many types of human coronaviruses, but this is a new one that has not previously been seen in humans.
How does it spread?
COVID-19 most likely spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may be possible to spread COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching one’s own mouth, nose or eyes. This virus is believed to spread easily and ‘sustainably’ throughout the community (continually without stopping). It is currently understood that people are most contagious when they are most symptomatic, but it is possible that the virus can be spread before people exhibit symptoms. (NOTE: Symptoms may only appear 2-14 days after exposure)
Reported illness range from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms to severe, including illness resulting in death). Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
What can you do?
The CDC recommends the following precautionary measures and guidelines to keep you and your loved ones healthy and to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
Harvard Medical School recommends the following to keep your immune system healthy, as your immune system is your body’s defense system:
Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
Take a multivitamin
Maintain a healthy weight
Control your stress level
Control your blood pressure
Drink alcohol only in moderation (no more than 1-2 drinks/day for men, no more than 1 drink/day for women)
Get enough sleep
Take steps to avoid infection
The CDC suggests the following measures for those who are at higher risk:
Obtain several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time
Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash your hands often
Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel
During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed
Communities should be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak.
As there is currently no vaccine or treatment, community-based interventions, such as the ones suggested below, become the most important response strategy to reduce the impact of disease and can help slow community spread. They also can reduce the risk of overwhelming the health care system (#FlattenTheCurve).
Limit non-essential travel
Look after vulnerable populations (e.g. older people and people with chronic health conditions)
As the outbreak expands, the risk of exposure will increase. Cases of COVID-19 are being reported in a growing number of states. Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19, as well as close contacts of persons with COVID-19, are at elevated risk of exposure. It is expected that a large proportion of the US population will be exposed to the virus. Widespread transmission could translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time, which could overwhelm our healthcare system leading to elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths.
Not feeling well?
If you suspect that you may have COVID-19, call your healthcare provider immediately and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide what steps to take next. There is no treatment, so the best plan of action is to isolate at home and reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others. Do not go to your healthcare provider or hospital emergency room (unless instructed to do so) as you chance the risk of infecting others.
In the coming days, guidance from local, state and national health officials will continue to be delivered and policies enacted. We will do our best to provide accurate and up-to-date information to share with our communities.
If you have questions about COVID-19 in NJ, call the 24/7 NJ Public Hotline (1-800-222-1222).
Remember, we are stronger together.
Disclaimer: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation. Please refer to the CDC for up-to-date information.