Your COVID-19 primer for Thursday, March 12
Oregon now has a total of 21 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of Wednesday, March 11.
Late Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown banned large gatherings, major universities shifted to remote classes for 80,000 students, local schools were urged to cancel events, and medical professionals began ramping up testing for the novel coronavirus.
"It's time for us all to do what we can to slow its spread and take care of one another," Brown said in a statement Wednesday evening. She is banning all gatherings of 250 people or more for the next four weeks.
The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday confirmed two new cases in Linn County and one each in Polk, Marion, Umatilla and Deschutes counties. None of the new cases involved travel to a country where the virus is actively spreading.
Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In terms of public health, an "outbreak" occurs when there is a sudden increase or a greater number of cases of a disease than usual. An "epidemic" is an outbreak that spreads over a large geographic area. A "pandemic" is an epidemic that affects the entire globe.
On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority announced Multnomah County's first presumptive case of the disease. It's a man between the age of 55 and 74. He is receiving treatment at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland. He had no known contact with any other confirmed case and had not traveled to a country where the virus is circulating. His is the only positive case was out of a batch of 52 pending tests. All of the other tests were negative.
As of Thursday, March 11, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a total of 938 COVID-19 cases in the United States, with a total of 29 deaths. So far, 38 states and the District of Columbia have reported cases.
The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on Jan. 21.
Readers can track the daily spread of the disease here.
What do we know about COVID-19?
It's a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.
The name COVID-19 stems from the disease's origin: (CO)rona(VI)rus (D)isease that first emerged in 20(19).
The virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Find out more at the CDC website.
How is it spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another — "close" meaning within about 6 feet — through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. (It also may be possible that people can get it by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.) Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at this site.
What are the symptoms?
Most patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, a cough and shortness of breath. In the more severe cases, some patients have pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure and, in some cases, death.
How can I help protect myself?
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
What should you do if you're sick?
Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. And clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
What should I do if I recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19?
If you have traveled from an affected area, there may be restrictions on your movements for up to two weeks. If you develop symptoms during that period — such as a fever, cough or trouble breathing — seek medical advice. Call your health care provider before you go, and explain about your travel and your symptoms. Your health care provider will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don't go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.
Is there a vaccine?
Just like the common cold, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. Call your doctor first before going it, to avoid exposing others.
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