Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on October 22, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
The novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, contributing to a rapidly-increasing number of COVID-19 cases. While it can be easy to fall into the overwhelming anxiety and fear of the moment, one of the best ways to stay grounded is to stay informed about the virus, the symptoms, and what you can do in your day-to-day to not only help keep yourself safe, but also to protect those around you. With this in mind, here we’ll highlight what you need to know about coronavirus and this pandemic—so keep reading.
Find out whether you are infected with SARS-CoV-2 with the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit DTC*.
While many people simply refer to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) as “the coronavirus,” coronaviruses describe a broad category of respiratory viruses. Named for the crown-like protrusions on their surfaces, there are different strains of coronavirus, including SARS-CoV (the virus responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS-CoV (the virus responsible for Middle East respiratory syndrome), and SARS-CoV-2—the new coronavirus that’s causing the current pandemic. Less severe coronaviruses are also known for causing the common cold.
The novel coronavirus is considered “novel” simply because it has not previously been discovered in humans, which also unfortunately means that no one is immune to it, making this respiratory illness highly transmissible and dangerous.
The infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 has gained the designation of “COVID-19.” This is simply an abbreviation of “coronavirus disease 2019” (2019 was the year the virus was first identified).
Growing research and anecdotal evidence suggest that we may not know all of the symptoms of COVID-19 yet. However, common coronavirus symptoms among milder cases include:
Note that all the possible symptoms are still not known, and some people with COVID-19 have experienced conjunctivitis (pinkeye), rashes, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. If you do find that you are experiencing some of the symptoms above, distance yourself from others immediately and consider taking a COVID-19 test (learn more about at-home options like the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit DTC*).
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that some people infected with the virus show no outward symptoms at all, meaning you could be asymptomatic but still carry and transmit the virus to others. This can lead to a false sense of security, with asymptomatic people potentially going out and interacting with people without taking the proper precautions.
Since most people have yet to receive a vaccine for the virus, social distancing remains one of the best ways to curb the number of COVID-19 cases. Social, or physical, distancing simply refers to maintaining a relatively safe distance (6 or more feet) between yourself and others.
The coronavirus spreads mainly among people who are in close contact, particularly for a prolonged period of time. The primary way that the novel coronavirus spreads is through respiratory droplets when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, talks—or even just breathes. These droplets of an infected person can land on your nose or mouth or otherwise get inhaled into your lungs, hence the reason why various types of masks and facial coverings are required in many public places today.
In practice, social distancing involves keeping at least 6 feet away from other people who do not also live with you. Here are some other guidelines and tips for social distancing:
Also, it’s helpful to keep in mind that social distancing is as much for the people around you as it is for your own personal health. By simply staying home unless it’s essential to go out, you can help reduce the spread of this coronavirus disease and potentially lessen the strain on healthcare workers. (Related: Tips for social distancing in the workplace).
Like social distancing, wearing a mask or other face covering is another key step you can take to help curb the spread of the virus. Whether you wear a surgical mask or simply place a bandana around your mouth and nose, a face mask acts as a physical barrier that keeps out respiratory droplets and can minimize the amount of respiratory droplets you transmit into the air around you.
Wear a mask whenever you go out in public, and keep it on until you get back home. Make sure that it is securely fastened to your face and fully covering both your nose and your mouth. Handle your mask only by the ear loops. Otherwise, don’t touch your mask. If you do, wash or disinfect your hands as soon as possible.
While masks with valves have become popular, they are considerably less safe than others. The one-way valve does keep you from breathing in particles, but your own respiratory droplets still make it out of the mask and into the atmosphere. This means someone who’s asymptomatic and doesn't suspect they have the virus can still transmit this respiratory illness to others.
If you’re interested in testing for COVID-19, it can help to understand the various COVID-19 testing options available:
There are numerous testing sites that allow you to check for COVID-19 if you’ve been exposed to an infected person or are beginning to experience coronavirus symptoms. If you can’t easily find a site near you, or otherwise just want to stay in the safety of your own home, Everlywell offers the FDA-authorized COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit DTC.* This RT-PCR coronavirus test is easy to use and provides secure digital results within 24-48 hours of the lab receiving your sample.
This home collection kit has not been FDA cleared or approved. This home collection kit has been authorized by the FDA under an EUA. Read more at www.everlywell.com/products/covid-19-test/.
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9. COVID-19 Vaccines. US Food & Drugs Administration. URL. Accessed September 22, 2020.