Washing your hands isn't the only thing you can do to prevent coronavirus

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Yes, wash your hands. But experts have more advice to help you protect yourself, your home, and your community.

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released additional guidance about how to prepare homes, schools, and communities for the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Health experts have warned that the coronavirus is likely to spread to more communities, but there are steps individuals and communities can take to prepare ahead of time.

Basic facts about coronavirus

The new coronavirus was discovered during a 2019 outbreak in the Wuhan region of China. As of March 2, the World Health Organization reported 88,948 confirmed cases. Of those, 80,174 are in China.

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On Tuesday, the New York Times reported there are more than 100 confirmed cases in the United States, across 15 states. Thus far, six deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to the new coronavirus, and the CDC reported that 17 people are currently hospitalized.

As of early March, the CDC said that most Americans are at low risk of exposure. However, health experts are preparing for the virus to spread into more communities around the country.

The CDC warns that stigma toward Chinese immigrants and Asian Americans is both unwarranted and can have harmful effects.

A person's race or ethnicity does not make them more or less likely to contract an infection, and such stigma causes "fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem."

COVID-19

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure.

The CDC reports that older adults and people with underlying chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. Data also suggests that older people are more likely to have "serious COVID-19 illness."

The virus spreads through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible for the virus to spread when someone touches an infected surface, such as a table or chair, and then touches their own eyes, nose, or mouth.

Prevention tips

The CDC released guidance to protect homes from the spread of COVID-19. The CDC suggests individuals:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces on a daily basis using regular household cleaning products.
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
  • If a member of the household is sick, identify a separate room for them to use — including a separate bathroom — if possible. Clean such rooms frequently.

The CDC has separate guidance for businesses, first responders, K-12 school administrators, colleges and universities, health care facilities, and large gatherings.

The CDC also has guidance for polling locations for election days like Super Tuesday.

Infection guidance

While infection numbers are currently low, the CDC offers guidance on what individuals should do if they are symptomatic or have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

  • Continue to practice healthy habits such as frequent hand-washing and regularly cleaning often-used surfaces.
  • Stay home except to get medical care, as to reduce the chance of infecting others.
  • Call ahead to the medical provider before an appointment to alert them of the COVID-19 infection, so they can take proper precautions.
  • Wear a facemask, if one is available, when in close contact with others.
  • Avoid sharing household items with uninfected household members.

If a member of your household has COVID-19, the CDC has recommendations for how to keep yourself healthy.

Updated information

Health experts at the CDC will regularly update guidance on the best ways to protect homes, schools, and businesses as COVID-19 spreads.

Fact checks have been holding Donald Trump accountable as he struggles to provide correct information on the coronavirus outbreak.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.