Coronavirus and COVID-19: What do you need to know?

As the news coverage of Corona Virus (CoVID-19) increases, and the potential threat of a pandemic looms,  we are here to help you sift through the information so you can be confident you have received the best information possible.

What is it:  Coronavirus Infectious Disease (CoVID-19) is a novel virus caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).  This is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract presenting as pneumonia and can mimic several symptoms of the influenza virus which can complicate diagnosis.

How is it transmitted:  CoVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory secretions via person-to-person contact. It is also believed to spread, to a lesser extent, via contact with infected surfaces or objects.   The most effective prevention measure is proper hygiene such as thorough hand washing. More extreme preventative measures, including respiratory masks and other personal protective garments, are indicated for those in close contact with known infected patients and are not recommended for general prevention.

How likely is it to spread:  This question seems to be a moving target and is, at best, an educated estimate at this point.  Reported infection rates vary widely and are further complicated by the lack of reliable reporting from international sources.  Currently we have 60 cases of CoVID-19 within U.S. healthcare centers (22 travel-related, 11 person-to-person spread, 27 under investigation).  As of February 21, 2020 the reported numbers from China are 75,569 infected cases. The mathematical ratio for transmissibility, called R0 (pronounced “R naught”) describes how likely one person is to transmit the virus to another person. The R0 for CoVID-19 has been reported to be n 1.4 to 3.5.  This number is precisely what has led to social media hysteria claiming a pandemic is coming; however, the R0 calculation is only part of the story and does not account for the average severity or the serial interval time between infection between patients.

How severe is CoVID-19:  At the time of this writing we have six deaths (including confirmed and presumptive positive cases) inside the U. S. from CoVID-19.  There are a reported 2,239 deaths inside mainland China. This would appear at first glance as a nearly 3% mortality rate, however, we can not attribute all of these deaths directly to the virus.  Early indications, excluding the unreliable numbers coming out of China, estimate the case fatality rate (CFR) closer to 1.4 (or 14 persons for every 1,000).

How to prevent CoVID-19: At this time, there is no vaccine available to prevent CoVID-19.  Therefore, the best method to prevent illness is avoidance of exposure to the virus. Therefore, the following measures are general recommendations: 

  • Avoid people who are sick or stay home when you are sick 
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth and cover your cough or sneeze 
  • Follow CDC recommendations for using a facemask (only if symptomatic) 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially before eating, using the restroom, or after coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose) 

What to do if you’re sick: The first unknown origin case of CoVID-19 was just reported in the U.S. Whether or not this is true ‘community spread’ remains to be seen. Still, patients who develop respiratory symptoms and a fever should be advised to stay home and call their healthcare provider (especially if they recently traveled or had close contact with someone known to be ill). The patient’s healthcare provider will work directly with their state’s public health department and CDC to determine if they need to be tested for CoVID-19. 

For the most up-to-date information:  

Please visit the CDC website here 

You can track the COVID-19 global prevalence with Johns Hopkins here 

Illinois Department of Public Health:

Call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-889-3931, Email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV, or Visit their website here 

Cook County Department of Public Health:

Call 708-633-4000 or Visit their website here 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.