Coronavirus: What you need to know

Published: Mar. 12, 2020 at 6:48 PM CDT
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Are there any cases in our area?

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced Friday, March 13 that the first confirmed case of coronavirus had been discovered. According to the State Health Officer, the man is a resident of Montgomery County. The patient was identified as a man that went to another state where coronavirus was spreading. The patient also had existing health conditions.

There are confirmed cases in Florida and Georgia as well.

Coronavirus: What is it?

According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus is a large family of viruses that may cause a respiratory infection ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS or MERS. Coronavirus is the common term you’re hearing today. However, if you wish to get technical, the virus is officially known as COVID-19. COVID-19 began to make headlines after an outbreak in Wuhan, China in December.

What are the symptoms?

If you’re worried about symptoms, be on the lookout for fever, tiredness, and dry cough. These symptoms are sometimes mild and begin gradually.

Who is at risk?

The coronavirus outbreak is having a greater impact on older adults – those over 60 – and people with severe chronic medical conditions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

People with heart, lung or kidney disease or diabetes also may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases at the CDC Jay Butler.

The CDC says, if you’re one of the people at increased risk for serious illness because of the coronavirus, it’s especially important for you to take action to protect yourself.

How do you keep from getting the Coronavirus?

► Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

► Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue, or cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

► Avoid touching your face.

► Avoid contact with people who are sick.

► Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces to remove germs.

► Bleach based household cleaning sprays and wipes will kill the coronavirus.

If you get sick what do you do?

► If you get sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider.

► If you develop warning signs, such as difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, confusion or blueness of the lips or face, these may be signs of serious illness. Call 911.

How do I get tested for Coronavirus?

If you have symptoms you believe could be coronavirus, you likely want to get tested for the virus. Officials are imploring anyone who is not experiencing an emergency to avoid flooding emergency rooms for mild symptoms. They also ask that anyone who believes they may have the listed symptoms of coronavirus to call their doctors before heading into the office. This allows your doctor to prepare for you to arrive if they do believe you may have COVID-19, and protects both the health workers and patients who may be immunocompromised.

The Department of Health will confirm all positive tests, regardless of where those tests took place.

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