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​What is this “Coronavirus”?

“The” Coronavirus is a completely new (novel) virus to which no human before its discovery had an immunity. The “corona” is because of the crown-like spikes on the external structure of the virus (“corona” is latin for “crown”).
It’s technical name is SARS-CoV-2 and causes the disease “COVID-19.”  ​
‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. The 19 is for its discovery in 2019.
On January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health emergency. 

Isn’t this just like the flu or the common cold?

No (See this April 2020 video). Seasonal influenza, in addition to humans having some immunity because of exposure to its various forms (and having a vaccine), has a fatality rate of ~.02%. While initial reports are preliminary, Covid-19’s fatality rate hovers around 2-3%. What makes Covid-19 additionally worthy of our careful attention is the fact that the illness is more contagious (1) (2) than regular flu and can be spread well before symptoms begin to show, unlike SARS (Also of note, people with COVID-19 produce about 1000 times as many viruses as people infected with SARS). I like this video from PBS that illustrates what “going viral” really means and why we should take this seriously: 

What Are the Symptoms?

The most common symptom is fever, followed by cough, followed by shortness of breath. Doctors report loss of smell and taste is also a common symptom (itchy/watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing are RARE–if you have those it likely points to a cold or allergies instead). From there the symptoms can be more or less severe depending on your age and overall health. People who have exisitng conditions such as a compromised immune system, diabetes or respiratory conditions are at a sharp increase of risk of severe complications from the disease. From the data we have from early 2020, about ~80% of cases are mild (some show no symptoms), ~15% are moderate or severe, and ~5% are critical including ending in death. Preliminary data showed that 99% of the deaths in Italy had pre-existing conditions.

How do I protect myself?

The CDC consistently states that the primary method of spread for the virus is respiratory droplets (think: when someone coughs or sneezes). Be VERY mindful when you or someone else coughs or sneezes (maintaining a distance of 3-6 feet is recommended). It is also possible to get the virus by touching something contaminated (e.g., someone sneezes without covering their mouth and you touch something their sneeze fell on and then touch your face) which is why it is also recommended, if you want to stay safe, to disinfect commonly used objects and surfaces, such as doorknobs. However, experts say fearing any and all surfaces (such as mail packages) out of this fact is overblown: this pandemic is happening because of person-to-person spread, not commonly by other methods. 
For more information on how to protect yourself, visit: 

Things to Keep in Mind

  • The virus is not airborne in the way medical professionals use that term. Coronavirus cannot e.g., carry itself for long distances in the wind, and it cannot linger in the air for hours like measles can. Coronavirus falls to the floor as fast as a sneeze normally does (can’t stress enough the “droplets” idea–see the animation, below, courtesy of Cheddar on Youtube) and only survives while it is inside a (recent) liquid carrier. This means e.g., you aren’t remotely likely to get infected by e.g., breathing air in the same airplane or room as someone with the virus even if all the air is circulated. It does mean, however, that virus particles in big enough doses to infect you can remain in the air as long as a typical cough or sneeze “lingers” with that “watery mist” (referred to as aerosol) around them (or if someone ‘sprays’ when talking). Anyone sick has likely been coughing and sneezing on themselves all day: don’t touch them or their clothes! 

  • Though there is no reason to think the virus will just “go away” when it becomes warmer weather, it is true that sneezes do travel farther in cold dry weather than in warmer humid weather: the virus droplets get absorbed and “weighed down” by water already in the air in humid weather, falling much more quickly to the ground, helping to “block” the horizontal distance a sneeze can travel. See again Cheddar’s Explainer
  • Viruses like coronavirus/SARS-CoV-2 go through an “incubation period,” a period where the virus is reproducing inside you, but you are not yet able to transmit the virus–or be “contagious”–to others. The medical community calls contagiousness “shedding” the virus. COVID-19 is contagious before the typical flu (influenza is contagious for about a day before showing symptoms), but if you think you got infected with a virus like the new coronavirus because someone on your connecting flight sneezed on you, even in the worst case scenario your body is not able to infect others for at least a day from that moment. The CDC estimates the typical incubation period for COVID-19 is 5 to 6 days, but gives a range of 2-14 days. 
  • When proper hygiene and mindfulness is practiced, even living with someone with the virus results (from the data we have) in only about a 10-15% chance (1) (2) that someone in the household also contracts the disease–and that data includes people without access to proper masks. This good news is not a “get out of jail free” card: Experts recommend to socially distance from one another by 6 feet to ensure no water droplets can travel from them to you (those caring for someone infected with Covid-19 should wear an n95-grade mask: people I care for, through no fault of their own, have sneezed or coughed right in my face!).
  • Though in some critical ways the response has not been as on the ball as it could have been, Bill Gates in this video says a few things that really gives me a lot of hope. Among many things, he said that next time: A) We will have billions of testing kits ready “within 2-3 weeks” B) We can isolate which other viral treatments are effective within 2-3 weeks and C) He believes we can make a vaccine within ~6 months

More information / Major Updates

Helpful Terms: 

  • Basic Reproduction number:  How many people a typical infected person can be expected to also infect, also known as R0 (pronounced “R naught”). This number depends on contact between infected and susceptible people, how long a disease is infectious, and the probability that an uninfected person will contract the disease. A basic reproduction number above 1 indicates a disease capable of causing outbreak because of exponential growth. As of March 2020, the R0 for COVID-19 is estimated to be around 2.5.
  • Minimal Infective Dose: How many viruses it takes to make you sick. A very contagious illness doesn’t tend to need a lot of virus to make you sick. We do not know what the infective dose is for SARS-CoV-2 , but the original SARS was around 300 which is (relatively) low. 

For the latest information, visit ​

For a great video on how to PROPERLY wash your hands in the doctor-recommended way, click here
For how to PROPERLY wear a mask, watch THIS VIDEO

For a slew of helpful resources, from a toilet paper calculator to free things to do if you are stuck indoors, check out my Coronavirus resources page below:

Promos/Things gone Free During the Pandemic