COVID-19 (formally called SARS-CoV-2) is a virus that has currently infected over 3.3 million Americans (in addition to over 12 million worldwide) that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). With over 135,000 American deaths as a result of the disease and counting, COVID-19 is a serious public health threat to everyone. However, given that this is a developing situation, COVID-GCA Mutual Aid has decided to compile updated information about the diseases’ symptoms, transmission factors, and testing.
According to the New York Times, North Carolina ranks in the top 25th in the world for the worst COVID-19 outbreak. In particular, as of July 13th, 2020, Mecklenburg County tops the case count in North Carolina with 15,319 confirmed cases and 163 deaths (Read more for daily updates). Last Saturday, North Carolina confirmed a record-high 2,462 new cases in one day in addition to 20 new deaths, bringing NC’s total death toll to 1,510.
Unfortunately, with cases in Charlotte continuing to rise, many are worried about the future unavailability of intensive care unit beds, as 80% of hospitals are full in Charlotte. The Charlotte Observer also reports that Governor Roy Cooper and DHHS secretary Mandy Cohen are extremely concerned about the situation; Mr. Cooper has stopped the reopening of more businesses and has ordered for masks to be worn in all public areas. Given the increasing possibility of a second lockdown (which would be devastating to the economy), COVID-GCA is committed to slow the spike in COVID-19 cases that has occurred in recent weeks.
In the first part of this blog series, we will provide an updated guide on COVID-19: how it is transmitted and what symptoms are prevalent. The second part will discuss the different types of tests, the importance of those tests, the procedures during testing, and where to get tested.
COVID-19 is transmitted in 3 primary ways: contact and droplet transmission, fomite transmission, and airborne transmission.
Contact & Droplet Transmission: Close contact with individuals infected with COVID-19 highly increases the chances of transmission. When an infected individual coughs, sneezes, talks, or sings, they exhale respiratory droplets that contain the virus. If the infected person is in close proximity to another individual, the respiratory droplets containing the virus can be inhaled through the nose and mouth and enter the lungs, resulting in infection.
This is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines encourage Americans to practice physical distancing (being separated by 6 feet from others) and to wear facemasks to prevent contact & droplet transmission.
Fomite Transmission: Similar to contact & droplet transmission, the respiratory droplets expelled by infected individuals can contaminate surfaces and objects (counters, toys, sinks, doorknobs, handrails, etc.) for hours or even days. A healthy individual can be infected if they touch a surface contaminated with COVID-19 and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes afterward.
CDC guidelines encourage Americans to wash hands with soap and water regularly, especially after touching unknown surfaces. If unable, the CDC recommends to use hand sanitizer, and to not touch your nose, mouth, or eyes until you are able to clean your hands.
Airborne Transmission: While the evidence is not fully conclusive, it is possible that COVID-19 can be transmitted by inhaling tiny respiratory particles (which can linger in the air for hours) that have been exhaled by an individual that has come down with the virus.
The primary symptoms officially recognized at the onslaught of the pandemic were fever, coughing & sneezing, and nausea.
The CDC has recently updated the list of COVID-19 symptoms to include the following:
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms, get tested right away (click here to find the closest COVID-19 test site near you). For your family and friend’s safety, try to self-quarantine yourself until you receive your COVID-19 test results. If this isn’t possible, try to wear a facemask for at least two weeks, and limit your contact with others as much as possible.