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Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 6, 2020
Press Release

As of Wednesday, March 4, 2020, there are 80 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the United States and at least 2 cases confirmed in Fulton County, Georgia.  Everyone must work hard to limit exposure and contain the possible spread of COVID-19.  It is important to take the Coronavirus seriously and do your part to stay healthy.


Protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (e.g., phones, handles, tablets, and keyboards) using a regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.


When should you seek help?

Do not panic.  If you start to come down with a fever cough or cold and flu-like symptoms, stay home.  If you want to seek treatment, call your healthcare provider so they can be prepared for your arrival.  Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.  Wear a facemask if you can.  If you feel out of the ordinary, do not hesitate to call your healthcare provider.


If you are sick or not feeling well:

  • Stay home, except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a face mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow
  • Clean your hands thoroughly and often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms


Do not fall prey to stigma

Asian-Americans, including those of Chinese descent, do not have an increased chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.  There is no greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 unless you have–

  • recently traveled to an area where there is a wide-spread outbreak; or
  • been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19.


How does the virus spread?

COVID-19 is an emerging disease and there is more to learn about its transmissibility, severity, and other features and what will happen in the United States.  Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).  The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Contact with infected surfaces or objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.


What is Congress doing about COVID-19?

On March 4, 2020, the House passed H.R. 6074, which grants $8.3 billion in emergency funding to fight the coronavirus.  These funds will pay for the development of treatments, increase funding to purchase medical supplies, and provide grants to states and localities for preparedness within 30 days.  The Senate passed the bill on March 5, and it is now law.

In addition, Members of Congress and staff are in regular communication with the administration, health professionals, and national security experts to coordinate action and responses.


What is a novel coronavirus

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.


Why is the disease causing the outbreak now being called coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19?

On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19.  In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.”

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses.  COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.  The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practice for naming of new human infectious diseases.


What is the name of the virus causing the outbreak of coronavirus disease starting in 2019?

On February 11, 2020, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, charged with naming new viruses, named the novel coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, China, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, shortened to SARS-CoV-2.

As the name indicates, the virus is related to the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003; however, it is not the same virus.

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