The spread of a new coronavirus, and the illness it causes, is one of the biggest news stories so far of 2020. The virus looks to have originated in China and is spreading around the world.

As of March 1, 2020, there have not been any reported cases in WyomingOutbreaks are being reported around the world, and deaths from the virus have been reported in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that "At this time, however, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus. This virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the United States. However, it is important to note that current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed."

In the avalanche of news reports on this developing situation, it's easy to miss some of the basic information about the virus. In an effort to inform as many people a possible, here is a collection of information this novel coronavirus.

What is Coronavirus?

Technically, the virus that the world is tracking is named COVID-19. It is a novel coronavirus, meaning that it is a virus that humans have not seen before. This a main reason COVID-19 is so dangerous. People don't have any natural immunity to it yet. Think of it like an invasive species animal that gets introduced to an area where it has no natural predators, it's free to expand and reproduce.

The word 'Coronavirus" has come to be a shorthand way of describing this new virus. In the world of virology, a coronavirus is a group of viruses that cause respiratory tract infections. This includes COVID-19, SARS, and the common cold.

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) people infected with COVID-19 have experienced mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14
days after exposure. infection can lead to severe complications, many patients have developed pneumonia in both lungs.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
CDC

How Is COVID-19 Spread?

According to the CDC, the virus "...seems to be spreading from person to person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some diseases are highly contagious (like measles), while other diseases are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading between people."

What Can I Do?

COVID-19 is a viral illness, so the same precautions that you take during any flu season and general good hygiene are still effective. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with
    unwashed hands
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20
    seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains
    at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

CDC: What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

There is currently no vaccine, or 'COVID-19 shot,' to prevent people from getting infected. Also, there aren't any specific treatments. The CDC says that people with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

 

Where Can I Get More Information Quickly?

In addition to this guide, check Townsquare Media Wyoming's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The Wyoming Department of Health has also gathered information about COVID-19, and is monitoring the situation in Wyoming (here).

Townsquare Media Wyoming issues alerts about breaking news, including about coronavirus, on its free apps.

MORE: CDC: Americans Should Prepare For ‘Significant Disruption’ to Their Lives From the Coronavirus

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This is a rapidly changing situation that will create a lot of news and social media posts for the foreseeable future. The CDC and the Wyoming Department of Health are the best sources for the latest information.