Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guide To The Pandemic

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COVID-19 virus cell under electron microscope (caption: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guide To The Pandemic)COVID-19 is a strain of coronavirus (think everything from the common cold to H1N1) that began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It affects the respiratory system, similar to SARS. The number of deaths from COVID-19 has surpassed those from the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic. Scientists believe the virus originated in a market in Wuhan China in Hubei province.

The combination of COVID-19’s deadliness and infectiousness makes it one of the largest challenges our generation has faced. COVID-19 is a pandemic that looks likely to affect a majority percentage of the global population and have severe economic repercussions that last years.

Read our coronavirus guide to find out how you can prepare and cope. If there’s one thing you can do right now to help yourself, your neighbors, and your loved ones, it’s to practice social distancing. COVID-19 is not “just a cold” or “just another flu.” As statistics mount we are learning that the virus is proving much more dangerous than we initially anticipated, and is devastating not only human life, but the global economy.

Article Overview

Introducing Laurel Rose, Infectious Disease Expert

I’m putting this up here because with all the rumors, fear, and misinformation floating around during this scary time, it can be comforting to hear the facts straight from a U.S. based COVID-19 infectious disease researcher at Emory University; introducing Laurel Rose. Follow her instagram account for regular video updates as she answers reader’s most burning questions on her program Science Sunday.

How Bad Are Things Here In The U.S.?

The Stay At Home orders came in staggered, with some states like California and North Carolina shutting down early enough to help flatten their curve (a chart of hospital availability vs number of people needing hospitalization), but in other states where the virus has either spread very rapidly, or Shelter In Place orders came too late, are suffering tremendously and losing human life that may have been preventable.

One of the major problems in the U.S. in particular has been insufficient testing and as a result severe underreporting of cases. How is each state faring? Checkout these live charts by RT.live to see how your state is faring at the moment. What does this site measure exactly? Their indicator, Rt, is a key measure of how fast the virus is growing. It’s the average number of people who become infected by an infectious person. If Rt is above 1.0, the virus will spread quickly. When Rt is below 1.0, the virus will stop spreading.12

Live World Map Of Infections & Recoveries

Johns Hopkins University Realtime COVID-19 Cases Map

This realtime global map of COVID-19 infections is brought to you by Johns Hopkins University. It lets you drill down all the way to the county level in the U.S. and see confirmed, death, recovered, and active status cases.

Stay At Home Or Open Up The Economy?

Cities and counties across the country have issued “Stay At Home” orders to contain the spread of COVID-19, to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed with patients they can’t care for because of a lack of resources. The subject of fierce debate is how long should Stay At Home orders be in effect. Yes they are successful at lowering the curve, but if economies don’t re-open the financial and psychological toll could be grave as well.

So political leaders are struggling with where to draw the line. This is particularly challenging in the U.S. where each state is experiencing a different start time to their curve, and different levels of infection. It goes without saying that some form of social distancing is in order regardless, especially if we want to prevent a second wave.

Stay At Home vs Shelter In Place

These are both essentially the same thing, order citizens to stay at home and only travel out for essential business functions and activities. This means as a consumer you can continue to purchase groceries and go for a walk (as long as you practice social distancing). Essential business workers continue to go to work (hospital employees, some government and financial jobs, etc.).

Cities vary in their specific interpretations of these orders. New York City has issued a Stay At Home order while San Francisco has issued a Shelter In Place order. This New York Times article has an updated map with specifics on state orders.

The Second Wave

What many are worried about is the “second wave” of the virus. That is, if the shutdown is successful, once people start returning to work and normal life, the virus may surge back a second time. In the case of the Spanish flu of 1918, the second wave was far worse than the first.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) 101 Checklist

Here are some vital steps you can take now to keep yourself healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Wash Your Hands!

Wash your hands as often as you can (for at least 20 seconds) and minimize touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Watch this video from Mandy S Munchkins that went viral – it shows kids how easily a virus spreads via a water and pepper demo on Instagram.

Self-Isolation & Social Distancing

Avoid close contact with people, especially those experiencing symptoms. If possible, self-isolate even if you’re healthy. Research shows that this approach can significantly lessen the peak of the coronavirus infectious curve and give some breathing room to hospitals and social support services.

If you must be around people, keep at least a 6-foot distance and avoid physical contact (wave instead of shake). And pass on the fist and elbow bump – while that’s better than a handshake, those are still capable of transmitting the virus.

Diet & Health Habits

Use tissues for coughs and sneezes, and discard them immediately after. Keep your immune system strong by staying happy and avoiding stress (easier said than done we know, especially with all the media drama), getting sleep and eating healthy. Minimize immune suppressors and inflammatory ingredients, including sugars, alcohols, dairy and processed foods.

Stock Your Pantry & Plan Your Meals

The illness/quarantine period is estimated to be around 14 days, so if you’re going to stock up on things, adjust for this period and think about what you really need. Recommendations include things that will last, so frozen fruits and vegetables, shelf-stable milk, medications and pet food. Epicurious has put together a 14-day all-pantry meal plan with suggested meals for each day.

Engage Socially, From A Distance

Step one: regardless of your age, health, or geographic location: self isolate now. Do little things throughout the day to distract you from the paranoia surrounding this pandemic. For example, smile at yourself in the mirror when you wake up and keep your favorite tunes jammin’. And of course, this is a great opportunity to binge through those shows everyone keeps telling you you can’t miss!

Line up a phone call or video chat with friends, family, and those that you haven’t talked to in a while. Or decide on a time to start a film at the same time, then chat afterwards to share your experience.

Coronavirus is a wakeup call for humanity, in more than one way. Our fast-paced, industrial lifestyle has caught up to us (nearly 8 billion of us live on a globally interconnected grid, where a virus such as COVID-19 can spread to the far corners of the globe in a matter of weeks). Some might say the coronavirus is a giant, painful pause button to the rat race we find ourselves in.

What If I Feel Sick?Close-up of doctor's hands at computer surrounded by medical gear (Caption: Best Online Doctor Consultation)

If you start experiencing symptoms, the CDC suggests that you not go into the doctor in person – this will help avoid spreading the virus if you have it and if you don’t have it, catching it unnecessarily. Instead, call in first and get a telephone consultation, or consider visiting an online doctor (i.e., telemedicine).

Our FAQ section below answers more questions our readers have on COVID-19 and is updated regularly.

Chart of COVID-19 symptoms compared to those for the flu, cold & allergies; by Carver County Public Health

What Are The Symptoms?

If you’re wondering how COVID-19 symptoms compare to the flu, cold & allergies, checkout this helpful chart at right provided by the Carver County Public Health System, based on WHO and CDC data. The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Most people will only develop mild symptoms, and some will be asymptomatic, which means they won’t experience symptoms themselves, but can still be a carrier of the disease. The virus is less transmissible during the asymptomatic period. In other words, you are most contagious when you are experiencing symptoms.

COVID-19 vs Flu, Cold & Allergies

As the virus spread through Wuhan and Hubei province in China, many in the U.S. were claiming that even if the novel coronavirus came stateside, it wouldn’t prove much worse than the cold or flu (both of which are types of coronavirus). Unfortunately, that has not been the case. The death rate of COVID-19 is several magnitudes higher than that of the typical flu.

How Long Before Symptoms Appear?

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days, or may take as long as 2 weeks to surface following exposure. The average is 5 days. Anyone who is symptom-free by day 12 is unlikely to get symptoms, but they may still be infectious carriers.

What Should I Do If I Experience Symptoms?

If you are experiencing these symptoms or have been in contact with someone that has, call your medical professional before going in. Researchers are advising individuals with symptoms to self-quarantine (avoid contact with others) for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus.

Should I Be Concerned? Who Are The Risk Groups?

Chart of coronavirus mortality rates by age, health condition, and sexChildren appear to be much less affected than anyone, and women are less affected than men. The elderly with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

What Is The COVID-19 Mortality (Death) Rate?

From the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation Report:

Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza. While the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data we have so far indicate that the COVID-19 crude mortality ratio is between 3-4% (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases), the infection mortality rate (the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections) will be lower. For seasonal influenza, mortality is usually well below 0.1%. However, mortality is to a large extent determined by access to and quality of health care.9

What about the breakout among age and gender? A 2020 CCDC study (The Chinese Center for Disease Control) conducted an exhaustive study that examined 44,000 people. The results concluded the following on death rates in infected individuals.

Death Rates Of COVID-19 Infected Individuals By Gender & Age (2020 CCDC Study2):

  • 15% – elderly (over the age of 80)
  • 2.8% – men
  • 1.7% – women
  • 0.2% – children and teenagers

Mortality Rate By Age Only (Chinese CDC)3

  • Ages 10-19: 0.2%
  • Ages 20-29: 0.2%
  • Ages 30-39: 0.2%
  • Ages 40-49: 0.4%
  • Ages 50-59: 1.3%
  • Ages 60-69: 3.6%
  • Ages 70-79: 8%
  • 80 and over: 14.8%

Note that these numbers start to vary greatly once you drill down on age, health condition and gender. The chart above, courtesy of the BBC, illustrates the great jump in mortality in individuals aged 50+ years old.

Contribute To The Greater Good By Isolating Now

Chart of COVID-19 cases averted. Source: NY TimesInfections disease experts agree that there is no time that is “too soon” to help stop the spread of COVID-19. That means if you are capable from an employment and social standpoint to engage in “social distancing” from unnecessary human contact, now is the time to do so. Just take a look at the chart at right from this NY Times article to see what we’re talking about.

How To Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer has flown off shelves and even professionals in the medical field are having trouble keeping supplies on hand (the irony here is that those hoarding hand sanitizer won’t be any better off when they run into someone that has COVID-19 but couldn’t get their hands on any sanitizer).

The good news is, hand sanitizer is relatively easy to make at home.

Hand Sanitizer Recipe

Combine Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (min. 60% for anti-virus) and aloe vera gel in a bottle (you can re-use old shampoo or gel bottles) according to the following ratios:

  • For 99% alcohol, use 2 parts alcohol, 1 part aloe vera gel
  • For 91% alcohol, use 3 parts alcohol, 3 parts aloe vera gel
  • For 70% alcohol, use 9 parts alcohol, 1 part aloe vera gel

Shake often for up to 24 hours to get the mixture to settle before applying. Optional – you can add vegetable glycerin, and essential oils such as thieves if you have them, for enhanced anti-bacterial properties.

Distillers Help Increase Hand Sanitizer Production

During the first two world wars, distillers had to cease production of whiskey and re-allocate their production efforts to denatured alcohol, which was used in the war. The WHO’s formula for hand sanitizer requires a distillation of 190 proof or higher, which is ideally suited to vodka and denatured alcohol producers. Whiskey producers, which typically distill at 170 proof, need to modify their equipment.

Either way, U.S. distillers got the FDA fast-track to start producing hand sanitizer en masse to help combat coronavirus. So next time you take a sip of your favorite beverage, give a nod to the distillers hard at work protecting not only your palette and mood during this time of stress, but your health and well-being as well.

How Much Longer Is COVID-19 Expected To Last?

COVID-19 highway alert in north carolina on interstate (alert reads: latest on COVID-19 NCDHHS.gov)An outbreak is no longer considered a pandemic when there are 14 consecutive days of no new infections.

How Long Until A Vaccine Is Ready?

The first human trial of a vaccine took place on March 16, 2020. 45 healthy volunteers were inoculated against the virus by a novel vaccine created by Moderna, experts in mRNA science (COVID-19 is an RNA virus) at a Kaiser Permanente research facility in Seattle, WA. The vaccine can’t cause COVID-19, it only contains a harmless copy of its genetic code5.

How did researchers create this vaccine so quickly? They bypassed an animal test that normally takes place. It will still be months before we know if this vaccine is successful, and in the best-case scenario, we’ll need additional time to mass-produce the vaccine and get it out to the global population. Most best-case scenarios still put a delivery date on a global vaccine well into next year.

There are at least 20 other projects involving vaccines happening globally in various states of progress.

What Are The Recovery Rates?

How many people are recovering from COVID-19? Are there more recoveries than deaths? Worldometer has live statistics on coronavirus infections with charts ranging from daily and total cases to growth factors, recoveries and more.

What Does “Flattening The Curve” Mean?

“The curve” is the cases of new COVID-19 infections over time on a chart. Dr. Siouxsie Wiles came up with a “Flatten The Curve” graphic to help explain. We’ve embedded it at left. Dr. Wiles says that while the infections can’t be stopped in their tracks, they can be slowed down to a pace that will allow hospitals and healthcare services to cope with the rate of incoming patients. This is why social isolation is so important! The more we can slow down the spread of the virus, the less likely the U.S. will face the lack of hospital bed capacity countries like Italy are currently suffering from.

Can My Pets Get Coronavirus?

Dog with face mask on (Caption: Coronavirus & Dogs)As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, some pet parents are wondering if their dogs can get infected. You may have even seen photos on social media of dogs wearing protective masks. But the good news for our pups is — so far, there’s no substantial evidence that dogs can contract or spread COVID-19.

But did you know there’s actually a disease called canine coronavirus (CCV) that’s unrelated to this current outbreak in humans? Our sister site Canine Journal has a coronavirus in dogs guide with everything you need to know.

Are Meal Deliveries And Online Orders Safe?

If you’re worried that the virus will be transmitted via meal delivery services or online orders, this notice from the CDC, FDA and USDA may put you at ease.

Can I Get Coronavirus Through Packaging?

CDC, FDA, and USDA are not aware of any reports at this time that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Current evidence shows the biggest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic….Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations to keep these individuals home.

Can I Get Coronavirus By Ingesting It Through Food?

If you consume food that is contaminated with coronavirus, your stomach acid should inactivate the virus since it is very acidic (pH 2.0). Even if your stomach acid did not inactivate the virus, there is no evidence the virus causing COVID-19 can start infecting through the gastrointestinal tract.

The COVID-19 And Food Safety FAQ

The infographic below courtesy of NC State University has more information on COVID-19 and food and packaging safety. You can also find more information on the FDA COVID-19 food safety page.

COVID-19 and food safety FAQ with information from the CDC, FDA and USDA.

Where Does The Name COVID-19 Come From?

COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus that affects the respiratory system primarily. The word coronavirus refers to the group of viruses it belongs to, rather than the latest strain. The virus itself has been designated SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

Researchers have been calling for an official name to avoid confusion and stigmatization of any group or country. The WHO (World Health Organization) has officially come out with the name COVID-19, named after the year in which it was first detected, 2019.1

Coronavirus Expert: ‘War Is An Appropriate Analogy’ (Video)

Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, wouldn’t be surprised if 50-70% of the global population (i.e., the majority of human beings) end up contracting COVID-19. Watch him speak to what he refers to as the scariest outbreak he’s seen in his 20-year career in this video from Channel 4 News in London. He hasn’t seen the combination of infectiousness and lethalness in a disease since the Spanish flu over 100 years ago (1918).

2 Trillion Dollar Coronavirus Spending Bill Passed In Senate

After quite a few back and forth’s, the Democrats and Republicans were able to put together a coronavirus support package totaling 880 pages that passed the Senate unanimously (96-0), to the whopping tune of $2 trillion! Legislation rarely moves this quickly, especially for bills of this size – clearly, urgent times call for urgent bipartisan action.

The bill goes to the House of Representatives on Friday where it’s expected to pass. How do they enact social distancing on Capital Hill? This Friday Pelosi and Hoyer said that because of members in self-quarantine, limited flight options and stay-at-home orders in some states, the House will likely pass the measure no a voice vote, which is when members yell out “aye” or “no” and the speaker determines the outcome of the vote based on which is the loudest.10

Key Points Of The Bill

  • Billions of dollars in credit for struggling industries
  • A significant boost to unemployment insurance (over 3 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance just this past week) – bolstered for 4 months by extending to those who weren’t qualifying (gig economy workers, furloughed employees and freelancers) and cap increased to $600/week.
  • Direct cash payments to many Americans – $1,200 for those earning up to $75,000; $2,400 for couples earning up to $150,000, plus $500 for each child. The payments phase out (income cap) at $99,000 per individual or $198,000 for a couple. The payments are expected to be released within 3 weeks.
  • $100 billion in assistance for hospitals
  • $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds
  • $350 billion in assistance for small businesses
  • $500 billion in aid for corporations (includes airlines and cruise ship companies)
  • Bill prohibits businesses controlled by Trump, VP Mike Pence, members of Congress and heads of executive departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs.

What’s COVID-19’s Impact On The U.S. Presidential Elections?

What will the effect be on the results this November? Early voting numbers for the primaries were up (higher than 2016 levels), but mail-in ballot centers are getting overwhelmed and the demographics of the voter base that actually come out and vote may change. There has even been talk of postponing the election.

What’s The Effect On The Planet?

So you’re probably thinking, with fewer people flying, fewer people commuting to work and overall less industry, isn’t this a huge “breath of fresh air” for planet Earth at a time when it appeared to be on the brink of collapse? Are you so steeped in the coronavirus pandemic that the Australian bush fires and other climate events from the start of the year seem like they’re in the distant past already? Can’t blame you there, of course, as this is one of the most significant “global impacting” events since 9/11.

COVID-19 has caused emissions to fall; in fact, they are plummeting across the globe. China, one of the top producer of emissions, for example, has already seen a 25% reduction (200 megatons of CO2).

So yes, the Earth has time to inhale, and the trees and oceans are smiling. Turtles are coming in record numbers onto beaches, and wildlife is being seen again in areas they left long ago.

In India the Himalayas are visible for the first time in 30 years since pollution levels have dropped11. Balbir Singh Seechewal says this should be taken as a wake-up call.

I had never imagined I would experience such a clean world around me. The unimaginable has happened. It shows nothing is impossible. We must work together to keep it like that.

Sadly, climate scientists say that when the coronavirus pandemic is over, if history has anything to say about it, emissions will come bounding right back as countries fight to breathe life back into their ailing economies7.

Emergency Prep Guides

Person conducting CPR on a dummy (caption: Emergency Preparedness 101)You think the coronavirus is bad, what if we have the worst hurricane season on record at the same time? Nothing is worse than lightning striking twice. Read our comprehensive emergency preparedness guide for advice on how to ready yourself for everything from hurricanes and tornadoes to poisoning and food shortages. We also have a dedicated guide about keeping your family safe during a pandemic.

And we imagine after reading this you still have tons of questions. We’re actively updating and will be expanding this article to answer questions we’ve received on testing, a COVID-19 vaccine, statistics, myths, the quarantine process and more.

What are you doing to prepare or deal with COVID-19?

Sources: [1] BBC [2] Jama Network [3] LA Times [4] NY Times [5] BBC [6] Forbes [7] Wired [8] South China Morning Post [9] WHO [10] NBC News [11] SBS Hindi [12] RT Live

About The Author:

Alex holds BS degrees in Management Science from the University of California at San Diego, and Computer Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is honored to share his nearly two decades of experience in home security and automation, cybersecurity and identity theft protection with our readers.

He realized it was time for a home security system when his neighbor’s house got broken into. He has tried to stay ahead of the curve by proactively applying security technologies and software that protect not only his home and family but his personal identity, sensitive information and finances.

In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing tennis, going on hikes with his wife and dogs and surfing.

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George S

What is the difference between a “Stay At Home” order (like NYC) and a “Shelter In Place” order (like San Francisco)?

Susan H

Are meal-deliveries safe? If the delivery driver has coronavirus, even if they leave the food on my front porch, can I get the virus by touching the packaging?

Diebold

Is there a chance that Asians may have some pre-built immunity from their previous exposure to a “SARS” coronavirus in 2003, given that COVID-19 is, as you write, is a “SARS derivative” (SARS-CoV-2)? If that’s the case, is there the possibility that the death rate in the U.S. will be significantly higher than in Asia?

Curious G

I heard Tom Hanks and his wife caught COVID-19 on their way into Australia. Did they recover? What other high profile celebrities have caught coronavirus?

Tree Daddy

So with the whole world going into isolation, it makes me wonder if COVID-19 is in fact planet Earth pushing its own “pause” button. After all, with no one traveling, less people flying, and overall less industry and commerce won’t emissions inevitably (and quite drastically) decrease during the coronavirus pandemic?

It’s crazy to see all those photos of world landmarks and squares that are normally packed with people now looking like a scene out of “I Am Legend” with Will Smith. Strangely enough, with all the news stories out there I haven’t noticed any discussions around the breath of fresh air impact this is having on our environmental impact.