The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is concerned about the growing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact it will have on communities across America. We recognize that many members of our military and veteran caregiving community may be at an elevated risk for coronavirus and encourage everyone to take all recommended precautions to avoid any risks or complications. The VA and DoD officials are monitoring the situation closely and taking necessary steps to ensure their health care facilities are safe for our service members and veterans, and those who care for them.
To quote our Hidden Heroes Campaign Chair Tom Hanks who recently tested positive for the virus, “Play things right… The medical officials have protocols that must be followed. Take care of yourselves!” Like our friend Tom, we encourage everyone to play it safe and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local health authorities.
In efforts to keep our military and veteran caregiver community informed, we’ve partnered with Dr. Amit Sood to develop a new resource for our community – 10 Things You Need to Know About Coronavirus. We also created a short video describing strategies you can take to build your immune resiliency during this crisis. We hope you find this information helpful. Keep your friends and loved-ones informed – send them this article!
10 Things You Need to Know About Coronavirus
By: Amit Sood, MD, Executive Director – Global Center for Resiliency & Wellbeing and Former Professor and Chair for student life & wellness, Mayo Clinic
1. What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses that usually cause common cold or a mild upper respiratory infection, but occasionally can cause serious illness such as pneumonia or kidney failure.
2. How is coronavirus different from other viruses?
A main difference is that we haven’t been exposed to this virus in the past. Since we haven’t been exposed to it before, we haven’t developed immunity to it. We also do not know as much about this virus as we do about others, but are rapidly learning.
Most likely this virus was present in animals but jumped species and infected one or a few people, from where it has spread all over.
3. Should I be concerned about this particular virus?
Being concerned and taking the right precautions is appropriate. But excessive fear or panic won’t help. In fact, excessive fear can hurt your immunity predisposing you to a worse infection.
Two concerning facts about this virus are:
- It is more aggressive than many of its cousins. In a small but substantial proportion of people it has caused a more severe illness, unlike the common coronaviruses.
- It can be easily transmitted from one person to another, increasing the risk of widespread illness.
4. What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
5. How does COVID-19 spread?
Here are three common ways of spread:
- It mostly spreads through inhaling respiratory droplets from someone’s cough or sneeze. The risk is highest from someone within 6-feet range.
- You can also get this infection if you are in close contact of someone who has the illness.
- Occasionally, there is concern that the virus might survive on the surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, switches, remotes, phones, etc. Touching an infected surface could also transmit the infection.
6. Am I at risk for serious illness from COVID-19?
Here is the good news. If you get it, most likely you will experience it as a cold with some fever.
But a few people (generally those with underlying chronic illness such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, a suppressed immune system, and the elderly) are at higher risk of complications.
None of these risk factors mean you will definitely have a worse outcome; it just increases your risk.
7. What should I do if I (or someone I know) has fever or respiratory symptoms?
The best next step is to call your health care provider. Call ahead and let them know about your symptoms and any recent travel, so they can take the right precautions if you have to go and see them.
Also, wear a mask if you have an infection.
If you have a cough, then cough into a tissue, discard the tissue, and immediately wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue, then cough into your upper sleeve.
8. What can I do to keep myself from getting COVID-19?
Here are a few suggestions. Please visit the CDC website frequently for updated information.
- Hand washing – This is the single most important recommendation. Wash thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water. Alternatively, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol if you don’t have access to soap and water. Wash your hands as soon as you come home, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, before preparing food, before eating, and whenever you feel your hands may have touched a contaminated surface. Remember to use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open doors.
- Social distancing – Avoid being within 6 feet of anyone with fever and respiratory illness. Avoid large gatherings. Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as switches, handles, doorknobs, countertops, and phones. Avoid sharing cups, dishes, bedding, etc.
- Avoid touching nose, eyes and mouth without washing your hands.
9. What about travel during the COVID-19 outbreak?
If you are planning to travel, visit the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel webpage for the latest travel advisories related to COVID-19.
10. Is there anything else I can do to help myself?
With any infection, including viral infections, two factors are at play. First, how aggressive is the virus, and second, how strong is your immune system.
Given that we do not have any vaccines and curative drugs yet, building immune resilience could help you clear the infection.
Watch this video to learn more about building your immune resiliency:
So, the three take home points from Dr. Sood:
- Do not panic
- Take rational precautions
- Build your immune resilience