Did you know that COVID-19 is caused by a form of the virus that also leads to the common cold?
In other words, the “new” — or “novel” — coronavirus is actually something healthcare providers, and all of us, have been dealing with for years. So, while there’s a lot to learn about the strain of coronavirus that’s causing COVID-19, we also have plenty of experience to draw upon as we work to keep ourselves, our family members and our communities safe and healthy.'
For example, we’re almost certain that this respiratory illness, which can be mild to severe, is spread the same way more familiar colds and flu are spread. That means it can be transmitted by droplets of fluid from a cough or sneeze or from touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Stopping the spread
Knowing that, we can reduce our risk of exposure by taking some simple steps, including:
- Washing our hands with soap and water — often, and for at least 20 seconds
- Using alcohol-based hand sanitizers when we can’t wash with soap
- Avoiding touching our eyes, nose and mouth
- Disinfecting surfaces in our homes on a regular basis
- Keeping disinfecting wipes on hand to sanitize things we touch in public places, like grocery cart handles and doorknobs
- Steering clear of crowds whenever possible
Educate yourself about COVID-19
Like colds and flu, COVID-19 also affects people differently. If you get the virus, you might experience no serious symptoms and recover completely. Most people do. But, as with the flu, the people most at risk of severe illness are those who are over age 60 or who have existing health problems. Since you can carry the virus and not know it for up to two weeks, it’s important to stay away from those who are more vulnerable — just like you would if you’ve been around people with the flu.
And if you’ve been to a place where people are infected or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has the virus — and you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing — call your healthcare provider immediately.
We’re here to help
Geisinger has set up a coronavirus hotline with nurses available 24/7 to answer your questions. We also have a website with the latest information on COVID-19. Our priority has always been the health and well-being of our communities. If you need us, we’re here.
And we always will be.