Unless you’ve been living in a bubble (which isn’t a terrible idea at the moment), you’ve heard a lot about COVID-19, a.k.a. the coronavirus. As these events continue to unfold, we’d like to keep our friends and neighbors informed about our community.
Health experts around the world are racing to track and contain a new virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization has named this particular strain “COVID-19”, and declared it a pandemic, while President Trump and Governor Little have both declared a state of emergency.
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common in animals, sometimes evolving into forms that can infect people, as the 2002 SARS and 2012 MERS viruses did. While the vast majority of reported cases are in China, new cases are popping up around the world and spreading quickly.
COVID-19 presents as a respiratory illness that can greatly differ in severity among individuals. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, fatigue, and a dry cough. Some may further develop flu-like symptoms such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, a sore throat, or diarrhea.
Most people affected with COVID-19 will recover just fine without any medical intervention — just get some rest and fluids. In fact, many people will become infected and won’t experience any symptoms due to otherwise good health. However, about 1 in 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill, developing pneumonia and having difficulty breathing. Older individuals or those with pre-existing medical problems are at higher risk from the virus.
The Spread of COVID-19
Almost every major event across the country has been canceled, from sporting events, conferences, and concerts — even schools and businesses are temporarily closing. That might make a bad situation seem even worse, but it’s not as scary as it sounds. These are preventive measures being taken to increase social distancing.
Our healthcare system only has the capacity to handle so many patients at once. The sweep of cancellations you see is an attempt to flatten the curve and keep the number of severe cases to a minimum.
The primary method of COVID-19 transmission is person-to-person contact, primarily through respiratory droplets produced during a cough or a sneeze. If an infected person coughs or sneezes into their hands and then touches an object, the virus may be spread by someone else touching the same object and then touch their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Around the world, people are attempting to limit the spread of the coronavirus by reducing interpersonal contact as much as is practical. Take the following steps to further protect yourself and your family from illness:
- Avoid contact with those that are sick.
- For the moment, avoid large gatherings or travel as much as you can.
- Clean and disinfect objects that multiple people touch.
- Most importantly, wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.
Adults should help kids remember to wash thoroughly and practice good hygiene. Germs can be sneaky, so doing things like clipping fingernails and laundering coats, shoes, and backpacks can eliminate hiding spots for the virus and prevent the spread of infection.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have the Coronavirus?
Anyone with severe symptoms or having difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention. We advise calling ahead to let medical staff know you’re coming so they can take precautions to limit exposure to themselves and other patients.
If you become ill, stay home. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw it away. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects . If you’re able to obtain a respiratory mask, it can help prevent the sick from spreading the virus (healthy people need not wear them — it won’t help).
Treasure Valley Coronavirus Resources
- Governor Brad Little declares a state of emergency in Idaho
- List of events canceled or postponed in Idaho due to the coronavirus
- School updates (school closures are not recommended at this time)
- West Ada School District
- Boise School District
- Central District Health
- Employers: Plan For and Respond to COVID-19
- Guidance for Mass Gatherings and Public Events in Idaho