Coronavirus: Risks and Preventative Measures

Coronavirus is getting a lot of attention right now. Though thousands of cases of the newly identified 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in China and dozens of other countries, the immediate health risk to most people in the United States remains low. Still, federal officials are monitoring the virus and closely tracking this illness to help the most people possible.

Coronaviruses are part of a large family of viruses that include the common cold as well as more serious respiratory illnesses. Reports of the new coronavirus first surfaced in early December 2019 among people in Wuhan, China. The 2019 novel coronavirus causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is monitoring the outbreak and providing updates and guidance as it becomes available.

What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?

Patients with confirmed 2019 coronavirus have reported mild to severe respiratory symptoms, including:

•   Fever

•   Cough

•   Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, in most severe cases

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Is there a vaccine or treatment?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against the 2019 coronavirus. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. There is also no specific recommended treatment, but people who have been infected are encouraged to seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

Protecting your health and those around you

We recommend some precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of any virus, the 2019 coronavirus in particular, and to help you avoid getting sick:

  • Avoid contact with sick individuals
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer so you can keep your hands clean even when you’re not near a sink 
  • Get a flu shot
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect high-traffic surfaces, like keyboards, phones, remote controls and door handles, and thoroughly wash glasses and utensils
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash — if you don’t have a tissue, use the crook of your arm
  • Stay home if you are sick, even if it’s just the common cold