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What Is Coronavirus?

April 1, 2020

What Is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses that includes certain forms of the common cold. The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is the latest variation of the virus. COVID-19 is extremely contagious, causing severe respiratory disease that was not previously seen in humans. Coronavirus disease was named based on its crown-like shape under a microscope (“corona” means “crown” in Latin).

Now that we’ve answered, “what is Coronavirus?”, let’s walk through some COVID-19 frequently asked questions.

How Did Coronavirus Start?

The outbreak of the Coronavirus disease began in Wuhan, China in December 2019, where people developed viral pneumonia after visiting a seafood market there.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that an office worker also contracted the disease but had no link to the seafood market.

The investigation into the origins of the Coronavirus disease remains ongoing.

Was COVID-19 man-made?

No. Scientists have studied the genetic sequence of the virus and concluded that it was not man-made or engineered.

How Many Types of Coronavirus Are There?

Scientists define coronavirus as a family of viruses that are named for their crown-like appearance. There are currently seven different strains of the virus, with COVID-19 being the latest strain.

How Does Coronavirus Spread?

There are 3 things to know about the spread of Coronavirus:

  • Coronavirus is spread just like the common flu: Person to person between people who are within 6 feet of each other.
  • The virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These respiratory droplets can then be inhaled into the lungs or land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.
  • The virus can possibly spread before people show symptoms. But this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Is Coronavirus Contagious?

Yes, COVID-19 is a highly contagious illness. And people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

Is Coronavirus Airborne?

Yes. The CDC says Coronavirus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets from an infected person.

How Long Does the Coronavirus Last On Surfaces?

The CDC indicates that Coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days.

Warmer temperatures and sunlight exposure may reduce the time that Coronavirus survives on surfaces and objects.

Other common questions about Coronavirus living on surfaces include:

Can Coronavirus Live On Food?

According to the FDA, there is no evidence of food, food containers or food packaging being the source of COVID-19 transmission.

But if you’re still concerned about Coronavirus contamination on food, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from packaging, and before you prepare or eat food.

Can Coronavirus Live On Clothes?

Though we still have a lot to learn about COVID-19, experts believe it’s unlikely that the viral particles will survive on porous surfaces like clothing. COVID-19 spreads mostly through aerosol droplets, which means it is much more likely to get the virus person-to-person rather than surfaces.

In addition, WHO reports that the likelihood of COVID-19 being spread through your shoes is extremely low.

What Are The Coronavirus Symptoms?

Common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

For certain people, COVID-19 can create more severe issues that can require hospitalization. Some more severe Coronavirus symptoms may include:

  • Pain or pressure on the chest
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to arouse or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

In these severe cases, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even become fatal. So if you’re experiencing severe symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

How To Know If You Have Coronavirus

There are several ways that coronavirus symptoms can appear. Some people experience all symptoms of COVID-19, while others have some symptoms or none at all.

That said, knowing whether you have Coronavirus can be tricky on your own. Your best bet is to get tested for COVID-19.

How Quickly Do Coronavirus Symptoms Appear?

COVID-19 symptoms appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Coronavirus?

If you have mild symptoms like a low fever, cough, or sore throat, you should stay at home and self-isolate.

This means:

  • Don't go to work, school, or public areas, and avoid using public transportation or ride-sharing services.
  • Separate yourself from other people as much as possible: Stay in a specific room, and use a separate bathroom, if one is available.

What Does Coronavirus Feel Like?

Coronavirus feels different for everyone. Some experience severe shortness of breath, while others don’t realize they have the virus at all. However, about 80% of people who contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms such as:

  • Fever or chills
  • Recent loss of smell or taste
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat

Can You Have Coronavirus Without A Fever?

Yes, it’s possible to have Coronavirus without a fever. But the virus affects everyone differently, so there are a number of ways that symptoms can present themselves. For some, coronavirus symptoms start with a cough or loss of smell and/or taste. In these cases, a fever only appears after the first few days.

Coronavirus vs. Flu: What’s The Difference?

Coronavirus and influenza (commonly called the flu) may share similar symptoms, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, while the flu is caused by influenza A and B viruses.

Here are the 3 other key differences of Coronavirus vs. the flu:

  • Symptoms: Since COVID-19 and the flu are separate viruses, there’s a difference in how the viruses present themselves in the body. For example, a loss of taste or smell is rare with the flu but common with COVID-19.
  • Reaction: Coronavirus can cause a more severe reaction than the flu. In some instances, COVID-19 causes complications like blood clots.
  • Treatment: The flu can be treated by antiviral drugs. Only one antiviral drug, remdesivir, is approved to treat COVID-19. Researchers are still evaluating COVID-19 drugs and treatment.

Note: It’s difficult to diagnose COVID-19 vs. the flu based on symptoms alone, so be sure to get tested to determine which illness you have.

What’s The Difference Between Coronavirus and a Cold?

The common cold is typically mild and doesn’t often require intervention for recovery. COVID-19, on the other hand, is a far more serious virus with many symptoms and complications. It typically takes three to 10 days to recover from the cold, but it can take individuals much longer to recover from COVID.

While symptoms of the common cold typically appear anywhere from one to three days after being exposed to the virus, COVID can take as long as 14 days to present symptoms.

The key difference of Coronavirus symptoms vs. common cold is the way symptoms are presented. For example:

  • COVID-19 has an array of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, while the common cold does not.
  • A common symptom of a cold is a stuffy or runny nose. But many COVID-19 patients experience loss of smell or taste without a runny or stuffy nose
  • Fever, muscle aches and fatigue may be common symptoms of Coronavirus, but these aren’t typically symptoms of the common cold.

Can You Get Coronavirus Twice?

At this time, cases of Coronavirus reinfection are very rare. But research is still ongoing.

How Long Are You Contagious With Coronavirus?

The duration of Coronavirus infection can vary depending on your immune system.

According to the CDC, adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms remain contagious no longer than 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

But it may take up to 20 days for those who are immunocompromised or experiencing severe symptoms of the virus.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Coronavirus?

COVID-19 recovery is a very individual process, but most people recover within a few days to a few weeks.

Is Coronavirus Deadly?

Yes, unfortunately Coronavirus can be fatal. Visit worldometer’s Coronavirus statistics for up-to-date information, including statistics about Coronavirus deaths in the U.S.

What Kills Coronavirus?

A household cleaner that contains bleach or at least 70% isopropyl alcohol should kill the virus. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a database of safe disinfectants against COVID-19

Does Hand Sanitizer Kill Coronavirus?

Hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol are strong enough to kill the COVID-19 virus. But if you’ve used enough hand sanitizer to build residue on your hands, it’s time to wash them. The film traps viruses and germs rather than killing them.

Hand sanitizers work well when a sink isn’t available. So remember: The top Coronavirus prevention tip is to wash your hands.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Tested For Coronavirus?

Thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, COVID-19 testing is available to everyone in the U.S. Community-based testing sites also offer COVID-19 testing free of charge as a part of the national response to the pandemic.

Where Can I Get Tested For Coronavirus?

There are 3 ways to get tested for COVID-19:

  • Contact your doctor: He or she can evaluate your symptoms and order you a test if they feel the situation warrants it.
  • Visit the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) website: To look up community-based COVID-19 testing locations near you.
  • Visit the HRSA lookup tool: To find a health center that may offer free testing to those who qualify.

Pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart may offer testing. You can also check with local independent pharmacies to see if they offer tests.

What Medicine Should I Take For Coronavirus?

There is currently no cure for COVID-19. But some over-the-counter medication can help reduce symptoms and make you more comfortable, though.

For fevers, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve) can help lower your temperature. But cough medicine and over-the-counter medication for nausea and vomiting are largely ineffective against COVID-19.

Treating Coronavirus comes also down to several factors like your age and underlying medical conditions. If you’re under 65 and relatively healthy, the best solution is to stay home and treat it like you would any other cold or flu:

  • Hydrate. Fevers and coughing will deplete your body of water much faster than normal so you need to balance that with water and drinks with electrolytes like Pedialyte.
  • Rest. Your body needs all the strength it can to fight off the virus, so avoid physical exertion.
  • Try over-the-counter meds. As stated above, OTC meds won’t cure you, but they may bring relief so you can feel more comfortable.

Do Antibiotics Treat Coronavirus?

No. Antibiotics do not prevent or treat COVID-19 because COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria. Antibiotics only work against bacteria.

Is There A Cure For COVID-19?

There's currently no cure for COVID-19. However, there are 2 treatments available in the hospital for severe cases:

  • Remdesivir (Veklury): An antiviral medication approved by FDA to treat COVID-19.
  • Dexamethasone: A steroid medication recommended for patients who need supplemental oxygen.

Is There A Coronavirus Vaccine?

As of March 2021, there are three coronavirus vaccines to guard against the Coronavirus:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • Moderna vaccine
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Your eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine depends on your state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan and prioritization.

COVID-19 vaccines may also be available at local pharmacies across the country including CVS, Publix, RiteAid, Walgreens, and Walmart.

The above information does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a medical professional regarding your health needs. If you’re experiencing a health emergency, contact your local emergency health services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care.

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