INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb declared a public health emergency after the first case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in the state on March 6. Since then, developments in the virus have been constant in Indiana and around the country. Our goal here at RTV6 is to keep you informed while sharing the best advice from public health officials and specialists. This blog will serve as a one-stop-shop for the key information and latest news you need to know about coronavirus.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Since then, the virus has been identified in multiple countries around the world, including over 1,000 cases in the United States and several in Indiana.
HOW IT SPREADS
COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
HOW TO PREVENT COVID-19
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
- Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty; and
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
BUSTING COVID-19 MYTHS
The World Health Organization has put together a list of common myths for coronavirus disease, COVID-19. Among the topics addressed:
Hand dryers are not effective in killing COVID-19. UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skis as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.It is safe to receive a letter or package from China. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, like letters or packages.There is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs or cats can be infected with COVID-19.
TERMS TO KNOW
- Presumptive Positive: A Presumptive Positive is when a state health lab has a positive test without CDC confirmation.
- Confirmed: A Confirmed status is given when the Presumptive Positive sample is then confirmed by the CDC.
- Repatriated: A Repatriated case is when the United States Department of State officially coordinates the return of a Florida resident to the United States, and those persons are isolated at a federally designated site until healthy.
- Quarantine: Restricting movement of healthy people who may have been exposed to an infection to see if they become ill.
- Isolation: Separating sick people from healthy people to prevent spread of disease.
- Pandemic: An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.
POSITIVE CASES IN INDIANA
The Indiana Department of Health has provided the following information about positive coronavirus cases in Indiana.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) DECLARES COVID-19 A PANDEMIC
On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is a pandemic.
Worldwide, more than 120,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and over 4,300 deaths have reported.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why all the hype around Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and the number of affected countries has tripled.
Although COVID-19 is compared to the flu, the World Health Organization says recent data suggests it is 20 to 30 times more deadly.
“There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 people have lost their lives,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said.
Ghebreyesu says describing the outbreak as a pandemic doesn’t change WHO’s assessment of the threat the virus poses or what the organization is doing to combat it.
According to Ghebreyesu, some of the hardest hit countries are seeing some progress in the fight against the virus.
What should I do if I feel sick or think I’ve been exposed to Coronavirus?
First, if you're feeling under the weather, you should take note of your symptoms. According to the CDC, the coronavirus comes with three specific symptoms: Fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you experience all of the symptoms — especially if you've been traveling to a known virus hot spot or know someone with the virus — you may be infected.
But even if your symptoms match, you shouldn't panic. There may be no cure for the coronavirus, but the vast majority of people without underlying health issues who contract the disease experience a full recovery. According to the CDC, most cases of COVID-19 will be mild. In fact, many people who contract the disease recover safely at home.
If you do think you may be infected, there are a few steps you should take:
1) Immediately call your doctor or health care provider
2) Stay at home
3) Wash your hands and disinfect
4) Monitor your symptoms
5) Continue to self-isolate until you hear otherwise
How is it treated?
To summarize, there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics for COVID-19. Which is why the CDC has an interim plan, and health officials are doing everything they can to take precatuons and contain the coronavirus.
At this time, the CDC has an interim guidance plan for healthcare professionals. The plan is advising that local and regional health care providers implement a respiratory protection system.
Patients with known or suspected COVID-19 will be in these respiratory protection areas, known as N95 respirators, which filters inspired air, according to the CDC.
Included in the plan is the consideration for designating entire units within the facility with dedicated healthcare professionals who can care for patients. These rooms can otherwise be known as an airborne infection isolation room (AIIR).
If hospitalization is not medically necessary, home care is preferable to patients.
Read more about what the CDC is currently recommending healthcare professionals to do here.
How can I keep myself and my family safe? Do I need to stay home/stay away from large crowds?
Here are 10 things the CDC says you can do to manage you and your family's health at home
How long does coronavirus live on surfaces?
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths of noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
Can the coronavirus be spread through mosquito bites?
There has been no evidence to suggest it's possible for the virus to be spread through mosquito bites, according to the World Health Organization. It's a respiratory virus, primarily spread through droplets from coughs or sneezes.
What are schools, nursing homes, businesses, and health officials doing to address this?
RTV6 has been following what businesses, popular events and establishments are doing to keep their communities safe, here are a few stories:
1. Woman says restrictions due to COVID-19 outbreak at nursing home causing her added stress
2. Indy nursing home restricting visitors to combat spread of coronavirus
3. IU Health launches 'virtual clinic' to offer free coronavirus screenings
4. Here's what's suspended or canceled in Central Indiana due to COVID-19 concerns