What Is Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)?

Scientists first identified coronavirus family members by how they looked. The proteins around the main RNA look like spikes, so the virus looks like a crown.

Members of this family usually infect only one species of birds or mammals. The systems affected depend on the species. The worst ones cross species. Animals give the viruses to other animals or humans.

What’s a Virus?

Viruses are tiny complex proteins that cause infection. They are not alive and can only multiply by hijacking a living cell’s interior and functions. In addition to us, viruses infect plants, animals, and even bacteria.

How Do You Classify Viruses?

Scientists disagree about classifying viruses because viruses are not alive. One system mimics the traditional taxonomy used in biology class (1). Another classifies viruses based on how they multiply, the number of strands, the type of material, and whether a ribosome can read the virus (1).

Where Is COVID-19 Now?

It’s everywhere. It’s in 172 out of 195 countries. Over 305,000 cases are confirmed according to WHO standards (7). The good news is that 93,000 have recovered. Only 13,000 have deceased, and 8,000 were serious. A similar dashboard by Johns Hopkins shows lower numbers (8).

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Symptoms for most coronavirus family members are no worse than a mild cold: coughing, sore throat, headache. However, novel corona virus 2019 (COVID-19) gives more intense symptoms: cough, fever, shortness of breath (2).

Older people; women who are pregnant; people with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease; and people with weak immune systems often face more: pneumonia and systemic failure leading to death (3).

What If I Have Symptoms?

Stay home when you’re sick. Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it out right away. Use disinfectant to clean surfaces frequently.

If you have symptoms, call your healthcare provider. They can give you the best plan.

If you have the following symptoms, call 911 immediately for a possible life-threatening emergency (4):

  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Bluish lips or skin
  • Significant difficulty breathing
  • New confusion or difficulty awakening

How Do I Avoid Catching the Coronavirus?

  • Avoid people who act sick (5).
  • Stay more than 6 feet away from strangers in public (5).
  • Work from home (5).
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is preferred. If there’s no soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (5).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth (5).

Does a Vaccine Exist for this Coronavirus?

There is currently no human vaccine.

How Is Coronavirus Cured?

There is no cure. Your only option is fluids and rest.

In advanced cases, medical teams support the body in its fight. Measures include IV fluids, antibiotics for secondary infection, and life support for extreme systemic failures.

Where Can I Learn More about Coronavirus?

For additional information, follow any of the links in this article.

For more scientific information on COVID-19, please refer to this page from  local company battling its spread.

1) LumenCandela. “Classifying Viruses.” Boundless Microbiology. Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-microbiology/chapter/classifying-viruses/

2) Pennsylvania Department of Health. CORONAVIRUS. Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/Coronavirus.pdf

3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Are You at Higher Risk for Severe Illness?” Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

4) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Symptoms.” Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “How to Protect Yourself.” Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html.
6) Begley, Sharon. 4 February 2020. “Experts envision two scenarios if the new coronavirus isn’t contained.” Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://www.statnews.com/2020/02/04/two-scenarios-if-new-coronavirus-isnt-contained/

7) World Health Organization. “Quick Facts.” Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://ncov2019.live/ (numbers regularly updated)

8) Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). “Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).” Last visited 21 March 2020 at https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 (numbers regularly updated)