What You Need to Know About COVID 19

In December 2019, the Chinese government announced an outbreak of a novel coronavirus.[i] Since then, the virus has spread to over 100 countries and infected thousands of people. As everyone is well aware, this situation is changing on an hourly basis, by region. Use this article as a guide, but check the CDC website, or other reliable outlet for the latest information. In addition, contact your local or state health department to obtain region-specific information.


Coronaviruses are common and cause garden variety colds and flus. This virus is termed “novel” because it is a type of coronavirus that has never been seen in humans. A novel virus is one that typically starts out in animals (camels, cattle, cats, and bats) —but it evolves and “jumps” into humans (this rarely occurs).[ii] Other such viruses include the beta coronavirus that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that is now causing Coronavirus Disease, or COVID-19.

SARS-CoV-2 Basics

Spread: Investigators are still learning how it is spread. It appears the most common way is through close contact with an infected individual, through airborne droplets, but this is not the only way it is spread.[iii]

  1. Primary method: airborne droplets—direct contact with an infected person from coughs, sneezes.
  2. Secondary: inanimate objects (doorknobs, etc.) to face, eyes, nose
  3. Community: Per the CDC, this means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. This makes it more difficult to identify at risk individuals.

Symptoms of COVID-19:

Incubation Period (based on MERS data)

How the Disease Manifests

As with any viral infection, how it affects individuals varies widely. Some people will have the virus in their system without obvious symptoms. For others, it causes severe illness including respiratory failure, septic shock and death.[iv] The majority of people contract symptoms similar to the seasonal flu and recovery fully.

Who is at Greatest Risk?

The elderly and individuals with severe chronic underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease appear to contract the most severe cases.[v]

How does COVID-19 Affect Pregnant Women?[vi]

Currently, there is no data on how this virus affects pregnant women. Pregnancy is a state of relative immunocompromise compared to the non-pregnant state.  This may make pregnant women more susceptible to some infections, including flu viruses. Based on experience with MERS and SARS, pregnant women may be at risk for more severe cases. Adverse pregnancy outcomes (such as miscarriage and stillbirth) were more prevalent in women infected with MERS and SARS outbreaks in the past).

It is unknown if vertical transmission occurs in an infected pregnant (in utero, during delivery). Limited reports of infected pregnant woman did not detect the virus in amniotic fluid or breast milk.

Take steps to protect yourself

  1. Clean your hands often
  1. Avoid close contact

Take steps to protect others

  1. Stay home if you’re sick
  1. Cover coughs and sneezes
  1. Wear a facemask if you are sick
  1. Clean and disinfect

[i] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/emp2.12040

[ii] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

[iii] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html

[iv] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html

[v] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

[vi] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/pregnancy-faq.html

(vii) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

(viii) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/sick-with-2019-nCoV-fact-sheet.pdf