Facts regarding the new coronavirus or COVID-19 are emerging and changing at a rapid pace. As each day of quarantine passes, it seems that we learn something new or important about this troubling coronavirus disease. Health authorities are still learning how the disease spreads, the severity of illnesses it can cause, and to what extent it will spread in the United States.
This article by the coronavirus attorneys at the Gomez Trial Attorneys firm, seeks to summarize some of the most important key facts about COVID-19, to separate fact from fiction by offering “mythbusters,” and in doing so, hopefully answer some of the questions that are on the minds of Americans as we navigate through this global health crisis. As you read on, please keep in mind that this article was written based upon published information as of March 30, 2020.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is contagious by spreading contagions from person to person. The novel (“new”) coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was first identified by health authorities after an outbreak of the disease in Wuhan, China.
A 57-year-old woman, who worked as a shrimp seller in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market has been identified as “patient zero,” or the originating patient of the coronavirus pandemic. The Wall Street Journal identified Wei Guixian as patient zero, though the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission claims that Wei may not have been the first person to have contracted the coronavirus. The Commission’s report indicates that Wei was among the first 27 patients to test positive for COVID-19. Wei initially noticed cold-like symptoms while selling shrimps in the Huanan Seafood Market on December 10, 2019. She sought treatment at a local clinic, and believed that she had a common flu virus. However, her symptoms worsened and Wei was eventually hospitalized at Wuhan Union Hospital. While receiving care at Union Hospital, Wei was told that the sickness she had was “ruthless” and that many others from Huanan Market had been treated at the hospital with similar symptoms. Wei made a full recovery from COVID-19 in January 2020 after a month of treatment. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Huanan Market has been closed indefinitely.
Health authorities believe that the virus that causes COVID-19 likely emerged from an animal source, but the virus is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread through respiratory droplets produced from a person’s cough or sneeze. These droplets can make contact with people in close contact with an infected person (within about 6 feet). Additionally, the virus can possibly spread by a person touching a surface or object that has been contaminated with the virus, and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
While COVID-19 is thought to have originated in Wuhan, China, the disease was classified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (“WHO”) on March 11, 2020. COVID-19 is the first coronavirus to have caused a pandemic, and the first pandemic classified by WHO since the H1N1 “swine flu” of 2009. Global cases of COVID-19 are reported by WHO, and countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases can be found HERE on the CDC’s website. As of March 30, 2020 there are over 693,224 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, with 33,106 confirmed deaths due to the virus. There are 203 countries, areas or territories with confirmed cases of COVID-19. The United States currently has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 140,904 confirmed cases and 2,405 confirmed deaths due to coronavirus COVID-19.
Based on what medical experts currently know about the incubation period of COVID-19, the tell-tale symptoms of coronavirus can appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure to a virus contagion, and according to the CDC most commonly include*:
* This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
The majority of people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms. However, some people – including people over the age of 65 or with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease – will have possibly life threatening complications. Health authorities suggest that about 1 in 6 COVID-19 patients will experience severe complications of COVID-19 including:
* This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
As we continue to learn more about the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak and how rapidly it spreads, stores cannot keep enough cleaning supplies and disinfectants stocked to meet demand. People are concerned about every surface they touch. Important coronavirus facts to be aware of include the stability or viability of the new coronavirus COVID-19 on various surfaces.
|Air/aerosols||Up to 3 Hours|
|Copper||Up to 4 Hours|
|Cardboard||Up to 24 Hours|
|Plastic||Up to 2 to 3 Days|
|Stainless Steel||Up to 2 to 3 Days|
The data above indicates that the virus that causes COVID-19 is viable for several hours to days, depending on the surface. This data is according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UCLA and Princeton University scientists published on March 17, 200 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
There are simple preventative steps for people to take to protect themselves from the new coronavirus:
While a minority of COVID-19 patients will develop serious complications, such as the ones listed above, for most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. Adults that are over 65 years of age, and people with serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.
Currently, there is no specific antiviral medicine or treatment to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat the symptoms of the new coronavirus. Health authorities report that vaccines to treat the novel coronavirus are in development and under investigation, but there is currently no available vaccine to prevent or treat COVID-19. WHO is aiding in the accelerated research and efforts to develop an effective vaccine with a range of partners including the CDC and United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). The development of a vaccine that is safe and effective at treating COVID-19 in humans will likely take many months to over a year.
At this time, there is no evidence or data to suggest that pets or any animals, including livestock or wildlife, can get sick from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 or spread the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in the U.S. The CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals contracting or becoming sick from COVID-19. However, data on this new coronavirus is still developing and further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.
However, because all animals can carry germs that can potentially make people sick, it is always a good idea to practice preventative hygiene, including washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, after interacting with or handling an animal. Not handling your pet or other animals when you are sick is always a good precaution to prevent your animal from becoming ill or to prevent the animal from spreading the illness through contact.
The new coronavirus COVID-19 can infect people of ALL ages. There are confirmed cases in all age groups, ranging from infants to senior citizens. However, older people, and people with underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. People of ALL ages should take necessary steps to protect themselves from the virus, including those mentioned above in “What to do to protect yourself from COVID-19,” as all humans are susceptible to contracting the new coronavirus.
Now over two weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are fairly familiar with the common key symptoms of coronavirus, listed above – cough, fever, shortness of breath and fatigue. Increasing evidence suggests that two more symptoms may also be a common sign of the coronavirus that causes COVID -19: loss of smell and taste.
“Anosmia” refers to the loss of the sense of smell. “Ageusmia” refers to the loss of the sense of taste. Medical experts report that many of their patients that test positive for COVID-19 also report a loss of smell or taste. This is not necessarily surprising, considering that COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and viral infections are a leading cause of the loss of sense of smell. Moreover, loss of smell is often associated with a loss of taste, as one’s ability to smell influences the way things taste.
A group of doctors in the United Kingdom have reported that in Germany, two out of three confirmed COVID-19 cases experienced a loss of the sense of smell. Similarly, in South Korea, 30% of people with mild symptoms who tested positive for COVID-19 reported a lost sense of smell as their main symptom. Finally, on March 22, 2020, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery made the recommendation that anosmia be added to the list of COVID-19 symptoms used to screen people for possible testing or self-quarantine.
Through social media posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, reports from people who claim to have tested positive for COVID-19 indicate that the loss of the sense of smell or taste was one of the first symptoms they noticed. In some cases, the lost sense of taste or smell was the only symptom noticed by individuals who eventually tested positive.
The inclusion of these additional symptoms – anosmia and ageusmia – as indicators of COVID-19 infection may be helpful to doctors in identifying people without other symptoms, but still may be infected with COVID-19 and may be unknowingly infecting others. More research is needed in order to definitively know how common loss of smell and taste is in people infected with COVID-19, at what point after infection the lost sense of smell or taste occurs, and how to distinguish loss of smell or taste caused by COVID-19 from a loss of these senses due to allergies, other viruses or other causes.
While knowledge regarding COVID-19 symptoms is still developing, you should reach out to your medical provider if you experience a new loss of smell or taste. Your medical provider may direct you to get tested for COVID-19 and to take other safety measures, like self-quarantining.
Antibiotics are not effective at preventing or treating COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus. Antibiotics are effective treatment for bacterial infections, not viral infections like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. However, a person that is hospitalized for treatment for COVID-19 may receive antibiotics, since it is possible that the patient may develop a secondary bacterial infection.
None of the above listed substances have been recommended by the CDC or other health authorities as being effective at preventing the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In fact, the above listed practices may be dangerous to a person’s health. The most effective ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and other illnesses, include:
Flu season for the seasonal flu virus occurs in the fall and winter, when temperatures are colder than the rest of the year. This has caused some people to speculate that the virus that causes COVID-19 will also go away on its own in warmer weather. However, the evidence gathered so far by health authorities indicates that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas that are already experiencing hot and humid weather. While it may be reasonable to expect modest declines in the spread of COVID-19 in warmer weather, it is not reasonable to expect these declines alone to slow the transmission of the disease enough to warrant failing to take other protective measures to stop the spread of the disease.
The internet is rampant with conspiracy theories such as the theory that COVID-19 was developed in a laboratory and disseminated into the public to somehow whittle down the world’s population. The reality is that viruses develop and change over time. Scientific research indicates that occasionally, a disease outbreak is the result of a virus common in animals, such as bats, pigs, birds, etc. changing and passing to humans. Researchers and health authorities suspect that this is likely what caused the impetus of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
As a law firm, Gomez Trial Attorneys is committed to a set of established core values. Two of our core values come especially into play in light of the coronavirus pandemic: “we always do the right thing,” and “we improve our communities.” At Gomez Trial Attorneys we are doing everything we can to help stop the spread of coronavirus and ultimately, save lives. While we remain open for business and working hard for our clients, our attorneys and staff are working almost exclusively from home. We care especially for the elderly in our community, who are now under governmental advisement to self-isolate in their homes. In order to help our elderly community members weather this storm, we have partnered with “Meals on Wheels” of San Diego County to raise funds and volunteers as permitted.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys we strive to be thought leaders in our community and encourage all of our potential clients, clients, friends, and family to #STAYHOME to stop the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. Know your symptoms, and seek medical treatment if necessary.
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