Every day it seems that there are more news articles and updates about COVID-19. With such an onslaught of information, it can be difficult to keep the facts straight from the fiction.
Rather than searching through the swamp of articles, here is a list of 13 things about COVID-19 you may not have known yet.
- COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to three days
- According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, coronavirus can live on plastic and stainless steel for as long as three days. Though this study is not yet peer reviewed, it’s worth the extra time to wipe down your regularly used surfaces and avoid touching your face if you have to go outside.
- It could be a bigger risk for people with obesity and diabetes
- Rocio Salas-Whalan, MD, of New York Endocrinology said that “patients [with diabetes] take longer to heal, putting them at risk for developing complications from the virus.” There is also some research showing that excess weight may change how effective the flu shot is.
- It won’t go away just with warmer temperatures
- Many people assume that coronavirus will taper off in the warmer summer months, since we often associate flu season with the cooler months. However, Salas-Whalen says that may not be the case, stating that “although the virus may have a seasonal cycle, it is not reasonable to expect a huge decline in transmission due to warmer weather alone.” She goes on to say that the largest decrease in infections will be seen “when people refrain from being in locations with poor ventilation and/or large crowds.”
- Coronavirus has cousins
- According to an article from the Coronavirus Study Group, COVID-19 is “a variant of the coronavirus that caused the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003. It also seems to be related to the coronavirus Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) that began in 2012.
- COVID-19 is the disease, not the virus
- The official virus name, according to the World Health Organization, is novel virus SARS-CoV-2, however that was seen as a potentially confusing name to use when relaying information. So, WHO chose to use the name of the disease – COVID-19- when referring to the virus.
- Pets can get coronavirus
- As recently as the beginning of March, a dog in Hong Kong was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus from his owner. The head of veterinary medicine at Modern Animal in Los Angeles, Christie Long, DVM, said “there are strains of coronavirus that do affect dogs, typically puppies.” She went on to say that “ as coronaviruses themselves are capable of rapid mutations, we are always on the lookout for evidence of disease caused by new strains of this virus.”
- Previous pandemics were much worse than COVID-19
- In 1957, the H2N2 flue killed 1.1 million people and the 1918 Spanish flu killed 50 million. Looking back further, the Black Death killed 75 million people. It would seem our modern medicine interventions are having an impact, though the toll it’s taking is still hard to bare.
- Coronavirus is less infectious than airborne viruses
- Though COVID-19 seems to be quite contagious, it is not nearly as contagious as known airborne disease, like tuberculosis or measles. Taylor Graber, MD, a resident anesthesiologist at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine explains that it seem COVID-19 is an “infectious disease, which is most likely spread via droplet transmission. This means it requires large droplets containing particles of the virus to infect a new host.”
- 20 seconds of hand washing may not be enough
- While 20 seconds is the current recommendation, it may take more than that to be sure your hands are completely clean of the coronavirus. Graber says to “be diligent about washing hands appropriately: for 20 to 30 seconds with soap, under warm running water.”
- Coronavirus is affecting people differently
- According to the CDC, 81 percent of people infected with COVID-19 will experience few or mild symptoms. Others may have severe symptoms that land them in the hospital. Age seems to be a factor, as well as underlying medical conditions and possibly genetics. Geneticists Andrea Gonna of the University of Helsinki’s Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, told Science Magazine that “we see huge differences in clinical outcomes and across countries. How much of that is explained by genetic susceptibility is a very open question.”
- Removing your shoes is a must
- While washing your hands may be an automatic habit, you should also make removing your shoes part of your routine when coming in the house. Because COVIE-19 seems to spread through droplets, it’s especially important to remove your shoes after an essential trip to the store or if you are still working outside the home.
- It seems to not be affecting children nearly as much
- According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, children under 10 make up about 1 percent of cases, while those between the ages of 30 and 79 make up about 90 percent.
- It will put a strain on our health care system
- One reason for social distancing is to lighten the strain on our hospitals and health care workers. One concern many have had is the number of hospital beds versus the projected number of cases certain areas will have. By practicing social distancing, we will hopefully avoid a huge spike in cases, flooding our hospitals and overwhelming resources.