What’s the deal with COVID-19?

COVID-19
Fuzzy looking little troublemaker, eh?

It’s a strange time in the world right now. Amusement parks and movie theaters are closed. A lot of people are going to work, school and church online. Sports are postponed. Grocery store shelves full of toilet paper are a fond memory.

Some of you may be feeling anxious while others don’t understand what the big deal is. Either way, you may also be wondering how you can make things better – for yourself, everyone else or both.

The unknown can be scary, which makes learning even more important. It’s not a magic cure – you still have to do something with your knowledge. Like, knowing hot stoves hurt fingers is great, but if you’re going to keep touching it anyway, the knowledge didn’t do you much good. But, knowing is a great first step toward feeling better and finding solutions.

What’s going on?

COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, which is a common type of virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses or upper throat. Like colds, coronaviruses spread when infected people expose healthy people through coughing, sneezing or touching the same surfaces, like doorknobs. However, COVID-19 also has a higher death rate than the flu, especially for people who are older or have existing health problems. While you may not be at high risk, you may unknowingly spread it to people who are – without even knowing you have the virus yet.

The COVID-19 strain is spreading and infecting many people very quickly. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which means it’s an outbreak of disease over a whole country or world. To keep COVID-19 from spreading even more, medical experts and other scientists strongly recommend people practice “social distancing” (not gathering in groups and staying six feet apart from others). This is one of the reasons many businesses and events are shut down and people are staying home.

What’s going to happen?

That’s not an easy question to answer and, for that reason, is one of the scariest for a lot of people. But, this is not the first pandemic in our world’s history. Humans have been through difficult times with black death, smallpox, malaria and more. In 1918, the Spanish flu killed about 50 million people.

Yet, we’re still here to tell the tale. As we learn more, we’re able to overcome diseases with prevention and vaccination.

What can I do?

First, you can continue to take care of your mind, body and heart. Keep trying to learn and challenge yourself; stay active and eat well; and be connected with your friends and family, even if it’s remotely. You can use this time to learn guitar or read a new book, take your dogs running on trails or play games with your friends online.

Second, you can stay informed about what’s happening through reputable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). (Yes, I have wondered if being a doctor at WHO makes you a Time Lord). You can also find out what different organizations are doing to help or how you can lend a hand without risking your own health.

Third, you can follow the expert advice to stay home, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and keep your home clean and disinfected. This slows the spread of the virus, which is good news for everyone.

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