Coronavirus Update: Everything We Know So Far

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Coronavirus Update

The latest coronavirus update including current status and prevention measures from the CDC, WHO, and top physicians and experts. This was last updated on May 9, 2020. We strive to include the most up-to-date and credible information. Because there are still some things we do not know about COVID-19, we will continue to make additions and revisions as more information comes to light. For quick access, bookmark this reference guide and check back often for new updates.

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020.

How COVID-19 Spreads

According to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Because this is a new virus, experts are learning more every day. Check the CDC and WHO websites for the latest coronavirus update.

Coronavirus Prevention

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and others during a coronavirus outbreak. The main coronavirus prevention measures are practicing frequent hand hygiene and social distancing. Social distancing is maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Hand hygiene is washing hands hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or using an approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Keeping hands clean is especially important for coronavirus prevention. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Experts also recommend routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, staying home as much as possible, and covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. According to the CDC, everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. However, wearing a cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing. In addition, cover coughs and sneezes like you would with a cold or the flu. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

According to the CDC, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 cases. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms include muscle aches, sore throat, unexplained loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, or headache according to a coronavirus update from John Hopkins. Some patients have reported fatigue as an additional coronavirus symptom. While other cases are asymptomatic.  More severe complications from COVID-19 could include pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure and in some cases death.

A new study led by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that the median time for symptoms to show up is about five days. Symptoms can be mild at first, and in some people, become more intense over five to seven days. With cough and shortness of breath worsening is pneumonia develops. But it is important to know that type and severity of the first symptoms can vary wildly from person to person.

High Risk Groups

Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, there are some people that seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. These include older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes. According to the CDC, people 65 years and older and people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. As well as people of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled.

This includes people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, and people who are immunocompromised. Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications. People with severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher), diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, or liver disease are also believed to be at higher risk.

When to Speak with a Doctor

If you have a medical emergency such as shortness of breath, call 911. Otherwise, call your doctor’s office and discuss your symptoms over the phone. Your doctor will discuss next steps, including whether you should have a COVID-19 test. For milder cases, your doctor will likely recommend that you rest at home and self-quarantine. Your doctor will be able to answer questions you have and provide a current coronavirus update and inform you on ways to prevent spreading the virus to others. If you become severely ill, you may need hospital care.

When to Seek Emergency Care

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include but are not limited to, trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. With symptoms such as shortness of breath, it is important to recognize respiratory issues may be a sign of heart attack, too. If you experience symptoms consistent with a heart attack or stroke, do not ignore them. Call 911 for immediate medical care.

Symptoms of Heart Attack

Common heart attack symptoms include pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back. As well as nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, cold sweat, fatigue, lightheadedness or sudden dizziness. Call 911 if you or someone else experience these symptoms.

Symptoms of a Stroke

Common signs of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech. As well as sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden server headache with no known cause, and sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.  Call 911 right away if you or someone else has any of these signs or  symptoms.

Coronavirus Update on How Long the Virus Lives on Surfaces

According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live in the air and on surfaces between several hours and several days. The study found that the virus is viable for up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard, and 4 hours on copper. It is also detectable in the air for three hours. However, you are more likely to catch the infection if you are next to someone infected. Rather than touching a surface.

As mentioned above, touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes may cause infection. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Cleaning surfaces with disinfectant or soap is very effective because once the oily surface coat of the virus is disabled, there is no way the virus can infect a host cell. There is no evidence warmer weather will affect the survival of the COVID-19 virus on surfaces.

Coronavirus Update in the United States

The U.S. currently has the most cases of any nation. Since January, health authorities have identified more than 1.3 million COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.

According to the coronavirus update on May 9, 2020, the U.S. has over 1,330,000 total cases and nearly 80,000 deaths. Many of these cases are mild or moderate, with just under 17,000 in serious or critical condition.

On April 11th, American deaths from the coronavirus passed Italy’s, affirming the U.S.’s spot as the epicenter of the global pandemic.

As the pandemic continues, researchers simply can’t guarantee what lies ahead. Or when life will return to a version of normalcy. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said he hopes for “a real degree of normality” by November. Dr. Anthony Fauci has served as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and is currently a member of the White House coronavirus task force.