Video produced by Mark Doremus
COVID-19, sometimes referred to as the coronavirus, is a respiratory illness that has infected people all over the world. Most cases are mild, with patients experiencing full recovery two weeks after contracting the virus.
COVID-19 is thought to be highly contagious, with places all over the world experiencing “community spread,” meaning the virus is not contained to one specific known area. As of this writing, there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Milwaukee.
Below you can find quick information about COVID-19’s symptoms, and what you should be doing now to keep you and your community safe.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms include a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath two to 14 days after initial exposure to the virus. A vast majority of cases have been mild with patients eventually experiencing full recovery, but those over 60 or patients with conditions such as diabetes, asthma or autoimmune diseases are at a higher risk of contracting a severe case.
If you think you’ve been in contact with someone with COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider if possible. Unless otherwise instructed by a doctor, stay home for 14 days and do not leave except to seek medical care.
Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 include difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or bluish lips or face. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect you might have been in contact with someone carrying COVID-19, call your healthcare provider immediately or go to urgent care.
How do I prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Even If you are not experiencing symptoms, you may still be carrying COVID-19 and are at risk of passing it on to other people. Those without symptoms should try to stay home as much as possible, and when you are out in public try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue whenever possible, and cough or sneeze into your elbow when tissues are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or going to the bathroom. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
At home, clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes and phones daily. Avoid sharing cups, plates, towels or bedding with other people in your home whenever possible.
Avoid crowds of more than 50 people, or bars or restaurants with dozens of people in a tightly confined space. Limit nonessential travel. This includes travel by airplane or public transit.
Do wearing face masks or respirators help?
One reader asked us why N95 Respirators were not being recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, for the general public. The CDC recommends N95 Respirators only for healthcare personnel because in times of limited supply, these respirators are needed most by healthcare personnel to protect against both airborne and fluid hazards, such as splashes of blood or bodily fluid.
For the public, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with people as much as possible, as spread of COVID-19 from person-to-person is most likely to occur within 6 feet. Face masks that do not completely enclose around the mouth and nose are thought not to be effective at stopping or slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Also from the CDC:
“CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as avoiding people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes or nose, and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue. People who are sick should stay home and not go into crowded public places or visit people in hospitals.”
Where can I get more information?
The Centers for Disease Control has reliable, up-to-date information about COVID-19 and other public health risks. Visit its FAQ page for answers to common questions about COVID-19.
Information for this story comes from the Centers for Disease Control.