This is a time of great uncertainty that the world is living in now. COVID-19, a novel coronavirus, has created confusion, fear, and a great number of theories about how it spreads. Some theories are true, but others are not, and these falsehoods can be harmful, or at least, distracting.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) want people to learn the facts about this virus so they can protect themselves from becoming seriously ill, or in some cases, dying. The CDC has provided information to the public so they can protect themselves properly and not panic or believe stories that are not true.
How does the coronavirus COVID-19 spread?
Although this is a new virus, scientists have discovered that it is a zoonotic virus. A zoonotic virus is one that exists in animals but can transfer to humans. It is believed that COVID-19 originated in bats and jumped either directly into humans, or infected an intermediary animal like the pangolin, which eventually infected humans. When humans come into contact with infected animals by handling the blood or other body liquids, uncooked meat, or unpasteurized milk, it can contract the virus.
Once a human has contracted the virus from the animal host, transmission begins moving from human to human. In the case of this coronavirus, that transmission occurs when infected droplets of water are discharged from the person who is carrying the virus and intercepted by another person.
The CDC has categorized COVID-19 as a respiratory virus and has found that its main mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets. If a person infected with the virus coughs or sneezes into the air, mucus droplets containing virus become airborne for a period of time. If an uninfected person breathes in the virus-ridden airborne droplets, they stick to the lining of the nose, mouth, throat, or larynx and this new host becomes infected.
Another way COVID-19 spreads, is through touch. When infected people cough, sneeze, or wipe saliva or mucus onto their hand and then touch a surface, they are leaving virus particles on that surface. If uninfected people then touch that surface and pick up virus particles, they have it on their hands. If they touch their eyes, nose, mouth, or face without washing their hands first, they have allowed the virus to enter their body.
It is important to note that if a virus-infected person is not showing symptoms, they can still spread the virus. If you speak to someone at a close range, you may breathe in respiratory droplets. Or, by shaking hands with them there is a risk of contracting the virus through touch.
Scientists are not sure how long COVID-19 particles remain viable in the air or on surfaces, although some studies show that it can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and two to three days on plastic or steel.
For these reasons mentioned above, experts are constantly reminding people that the most efficient means of protection against the virus are social distancing, exhaustive hand washing, avoiding touching the face, disinfecting surfaces that may be contaminated, covering coughs and sneezes, and self-isolating when symptoms of the virus are present.
How is the virus NOT spread?
Up until now, researchers have not found any evidence that the virus is spread through food. Even if you ingest virus particles, the digestive system kills them. If you purchase delivered food, the food is safe. However, the bags and containers must be handled with care. Take the food out of the delivery containers, throw them all away, and then wash your hands thoroughly before eating or touching your face.
Another concern many people have are mosquitoes. Because this new coronavirus is a respiratory virus, it cannot be spread by insect bites.
COVID-19 is a new and virulent virus that has science and medical professionals frantically working to figure out. Right now, the most important things people can do to protect themselves until a vaccine is found, are careful personal hygiene and social distancing.
Find out more about COVID-19 and how to prevent it, visit the CDC or click here. Stay in touch with local and state authorities for specific stay at home orders, or recommendations regarding social distancing.