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COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019. It is a respiratory infection caused by a new type of coronavirus that started in the year 2019. A respiratory infection is an illness that affects the nose, throat, airways, or lungs. COVID-19 is very contagious, spreading easily from person to person.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common throughout the world. They cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to COVID-19. Other coronaviruses have also caused outbreaks in recent years, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). But these viruses have not impacted as many people as COVID-19.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus. You also might hear it being called “novel” coronavirus. But the official name of this new coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2.
The COVID-19 coronavirus spreads mainly from person to person. This may happen in different ways:
If people have COVID-19, they must be isolated from other people to prevent spread of the virus. If you think you have come in contact with someone with COVID-19, you should call your doctor and self-quarantine for 14 days in case you develop illness. Symptoms usually develop 2-12 days after exposure to the virus.
People with COVID-19 might have:
Doctors are learning about new symptoms as more research becomes available. Some people who get COVID-19 do not have any symptoms.
If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important you tell your medical team. Don’t hide or ignore symptoms.
Most people have only mild symptoms and can be cared for at home. But some people can become very sick and need to be treated in the hospital. For people who require hospitalization, the medical team can monitor and treat their lungs to make sure their bodies continue to have enough oxygen. In more severe cases, patients have needed more breathing support, such as a breathing tube or ventilator.
Get vaccinated if your doctor recommends it.
To prevent COVID-19, it is important to limit potential contact with the virus.
The term social distancing, or “physical distancing,” means staying at least 6 feet away from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The 6 feet of distance lessens your chance of breathing in coronavirus from someone around you. It is also important to avoid meeting in groups and limit the number of people you are around.
Because of social distancing guidelines, there have been many changes such as schools and stores closing, restaurants doing delivery or pick-up only, and activities or sports being canceled or postponed.
It is disappointing to miss out on things that are important to you like prom, sports, trips, or graduation. Taking time away from your friends and activities is hard, but it’s very important to stop the virus from spreading. Remember that the COVID-19 pandemic will be temporary, and we can plan to go back to our normal routines at some point. That doesn’t stop the feelings of sadness, uncertainty, or sense of loss. Those emotions are real and important, and they are normal feelings to have during this time.
Social distancing doesn’t have to be boring or lonely! There are a lot of things you can continue to do.
It’s also okay to use this time to SLOW DOWN and PAUSE for a moment. This is an overwhelming and stressful time for many people. It can be hard to focus. Families may be separated. Some people are not able to work or might have to work long hours. You might be worried about your health or the health of loved ones.
You may notice changes at your hospital to help everyone stay safe and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Right now, you may be feeling some uncertainty with COVID-19. If you have any questions, talk to your care team.
With all of the changes and uncertainty of COVID-19, you may find yourself worrying more than usual. It might also be harder to eat healthy, be active, or have healthy sleep habits. But it is even more important to take care of yourself to help you stay strong physically and emotionally.
Remember that we cannot control everything, so it’s important to focus on what we can control, like taking care of ourselves.
You may be hearing a lot of different things on TV or from your friends or family. It’s important to get accurate information from reliable sources. It is also okay to take a break from the news and to limit time spent tuning in to TV, news sites, or social media outlets. You may have questions about certain things related to COVID-19. As doctors and researchers learn more about COVID-19, information may change.
In case you were wondering...
Yes, you can go outside to exercise, walk, enjoy nature, or bike, but be sure to continue practicing social distancing, staying at least 6 feet away from others.
COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness. Viruses need live cells to be their host! As long as the people who prepare your food are washing their hands and practicing safe food preparation, ordering food from restaurants does not put you at risk for COVID-19. Use safe delivery options that maintain social distancing recommendations.
While COVID-19 and influenza are both types of viral infections, COVID-19 is different because it is new and spreading so rapidly. Unlike the flu, treatments and vaccines have not yet been developed for COVID-19.
While many experience mild symptoms, some people have become VERY sick due to COVID-19. COVID-19 can affect people’s ability to breathe.
The CDC has developed recommendations based on what has successfully reduced the spread of COVID-19 in other countries who experienced the effects of this pandemic earlier than the United States. It is important that we quickly learn from other countries’ experiences to keep as many people healthy as possible.
During your cancer treatments, there may be times that your chemotherapy weakens your immune system. This can place you at higher risk for infections, including COVID-19. Patients with cancer or other serious health conditions may be at higher risk for developing complications or more severe illness. It is important to take precautions to minimize your risk of illness.
Young people can develop COVID-19 and spread the virus to others. While most people who have COVID-19 exhibit mild symptoms, some people exhibit very severe symptoms.