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There were at least 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus, in the United States as of March 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the Indiana State Department of Health says the virus has not reached Indiana.

There were 30 Hoosiers being monitored for coronavirus as of March 3, according to the health department. That number fluctuates daily, though, as those people complete their 14-day self-monitoring cycle.

Being monitored does not indicate these people are ill or may become ill; it simply means they had a risk factor for potential exposure through travel or exposure to others who have recently traveled.

The disease has made international news, in part because medical professionals know so little about it, and it has caused at least nine deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global health emergency in late January.

Here’s what you need to know about preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus spreading that causes COVID-19. Researchers believe bats are the animal source of the virus, but that isn’t yet definitive.

Symptoms can include fever, runny nose, cough and breathing trouble.

Most develop only mild disease, but some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

“This is a time to plan, not to panic,” state health Commissioner Kris Box said in a press release Feb. 27. “The situation with this novel coronavirus is changing rapidly, and I know that can cause concern because we don’t have all the answers yet. What we do have, however, is a plan for how to respond if and when COVID-19 comes to Indiana.”

Symptoms

According to the WHO, some symptoms have been more common than others in confirmed cases. Below are the most common symptoms, along with what percentage of confirmed cases had them.

Fever (88%)

Dry cough (68%)

Mucus (33%)

Shortness of breath (18%)

Sore throat (14%)

Headache (14%)

Myths

Myth: Only older people are susceptible to the new coronavirus.

Fact: While older people and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to face some of the more serious side effects of the disease, including respiratory problems and kidney failure, people of any age can contract COVID-19. 

Myth: You need to stop going to your favorite Chinese restaurant.

Fact: While the virus originated in Wuhan, China, people of any nationality, race or gender can contract COVID-19. You are not likely to contract coronavirus by visiting Chinese restaurants. 

Myth: You can get the new coronavirus from Corona beer.

Fact: COVID-19 has nothing to do with Corona beer, a popular Mexican import. Feel free to continue drinking responsibly.

Myth: Hand dryers will kill the new coronavirus.

Fact: Heat does not kill the disease, which the CDC reports can live on surfaces for up to nine days. However, washing your hands frequently decreases your chances of contracting coronavirus. 

Myth: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will kill the new coronavirus.

Fact: Neither alcohol nor chlorine can kill a virus that has already entered the body. Further, both are intended to clean surfaces, and use on the body can damage mucous membranes.  

How to limit the spread

Physicians haven’t developed a vaccine yet, so for now, limiting the spread of COVID-19 is as simple as practicing basic hygiene.

Simple steps to take:

• Wash your hands with soap frequently.

• Cover coughs and sneezes.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.

• Disinfect surfaces that people frequently touch. 

Physicians do not recommend healthy individuals wear surgical mask. The masks don’t prevent contraction of the virus and are used to contain illness in sick people. Furthermore, the rate of surgical masks flying off the shelves has made it more difficult for doctors and hospitals to replenish their stock, putting patients at risk. 

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick. Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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