Indiana University students submitted questions about COVID-19 through social media. We answered as many questions as we could in an IUPUI Instagram story. In an effort to disseminate information as widely as possible to all IU students, we have answered more questions below. We will continue to answer questions on this page and encourage you to visit often.
Overview of COVID-19
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person.
A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it has the potential to spread worldwide. More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. The CDC expects that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. In the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed to this virus.
Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care.
This is a new virus, which means we do not have any specific treatments right now. No antivirals have shown to be effective. As far as a vaccine, there are vaccines in development, but they are at least a year to 18 months away from production and use in the population.
Italy has an older population than the US on average. Second, the virus has been in Italy longer than it’s been here in the US. Unfortunately, in the coming weeks to months, we could see more cases here in the US, as well as more severe outcomes.
At one time, SARS, MERS and H1N1 were all new viruses just like this one. More than 30 new diseases have emerged in the world in the past 40 years. This is just a part of evolution.
No, we are not overreacting to the situation. This is exactly what public health should be doing. We should all be engaging in social distancing and good handwashing practice.
We recommend a few ways of determining the best source of information.
- Investigate the Source
- Find Better Coverage
- Trace Claims, Quotes and Media to the Original Context
- Evaluate if it's worth engaging.
- Don't patronize. Create a dialogue, not a lecture.
- Offer to trade information and sources.
- Find a news source you know they trust, even if it's not one you like.
- Show them what's happening in Italy/other places.
- Appeal to sense of compassion for more vulnerable people.
We do not know how long this is going last. This is a new virus. We have to look to other countries like China since it occurred there first. Historically, pandemics have lasted about a year.
Risk to Populations
Those at highest risk are older individuals, especially those with lung disease or other immunocompromising conditions. While you are on spring break instead of visiting grandma and grandpa, maybe call them, especially if you’re sick.
The good news is that it’s not as dangerous of a disease among a younger population. The younger you are, the more robust your immune system is. You are probably going to be in good shape.
The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.
Prevention and Transmission
Here is what you can do to prepare yourself and your family in case COVID-19 spreads in your community.
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
The best way to protect yourself is social distancing. Stay home if you can. Second, wash your hands frequently and try not to touch your face. Third, disinfect the house, clean the doorknobs, light switches and the toilet handle.
Current evidence shows that once you get this virus and you recover from it, chances are you’re not going to get it again, that you’re going to build immunity to it.
The World Health Organization has stated that it is safe to receive a package, even from areas where coronavirus has been reported.
While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. The World Health Organization continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available.
We are pulling for America's dad. To protect your own parents, engage in good public health hygiene by washing your hands (for 20 or more seconds), engaging in social distancing in public and trying to maintain social isolation when possible. While you may not appear to be sick, you can be an unwitting carrier of the virus. We know that older adults and immunocompromised individuals are more at risk. Let's do our part to protect everyone during this time.
Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These are similar symptoms to the common cold and influenza. If you believe you may have COVID-19, please call your health care provider or a screening service first.How to tell the difference between flu, cold and COVID-19
Yes. IU Health is offering free screenings for COVID-19. You can also call Campus Health at (317) 278-2533 for a quick screening prior to visiting a health care provider.
Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. Stigma can also occur after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others. It is important that we all strive to reduce fear and anxiety about COVID-19 that can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things.Reducing Stigma