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Coronavirus & COVID-19: Credible Resources & FAQs


It’s important to remember facts not fear when it comes to finding out more about the coronavirus and how to filter that information.  Need an answer now?  Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162.  Sign up for updates by texting COVIDNC to 898211

For mental health resources in Western North Carolina the public is encouraged to call the  Vaya Health 24/7 Access to Care Line 800-849-6127 

The BPR news team is providing coronavirus updates with the latest information  from the Centers for Disease Control  , North Carolina Health and Human Services and WNC county health departments along with answers to some frequently asked questions: 

What is a coronavirus? What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Human coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause mild illnesses like the common cold. 

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was identified in Wuhan, China, and is now spreading throughout the world. Learn more about COVID-19 from NCDHHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How does COVID-19 spread?

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).
  • Through 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.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Spread from contact with contaminated 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.  How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.  The CDC has a updated guide about handling groceries and other items here. 

What can I do to prevent it from spreading?

Follow these common-sense measures to protect yourself and others from spreading viruses, including COVID-19:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

What should I do if I've had contact with someone with COVID-19?                                      

Seek medical advice. A phone call to your primary care provider is a good first step.  If you don't have a provider, contact your local health department.    You can also call the North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline at 866-462-3821 for more information.

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

Symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu virus can overlap, so it’s important to understand the facts to seek the right treatment. Both viruses cause:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting (occasionally)
  • Diarrhea (occasionally)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The key differences to look out for:  

The WHO declared a pandemic.  What does that mean?    

The CDC defines an epidemic as   “an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected” in a region.  A pandemic is an epidemic occurring worldwide or over a very wide area.  While it sounds scary, it’s important to note that pandemic refers to how many areas of the world are dealing with outbreaks, it doesn’t describe the seriousness of the disease

Governor Roy Cooper and NC Health Officials recently issued recommendations to help contain the spread of the virus.

HIGH-RISK PERSONS (people who are more likely to develop serious complications if they get the virus)
NC DHHS recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid large groups of people as much as possible. This includes gatherings such as concert venues, conventions, church services, sporting events, and crowded social events. People at high risk should also avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.

People at high risk include anyone:

  • Over 65 years of age, or
  • with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or
  • with weakened immune systems.

The following recommendations pertain to persons and establishments STATEWIDE.

NC DHHS recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high risk persons described above should limit visitors and restrict all visitors who have respiratory illness or potential exposure to COVID-19. These establishments include: nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and facilities that care for medically vulnerable children.

NC DHHS recommends that event organizers:

  • Urge anyone who is sick to not attend.
  • Encourage those who are at high risk, described above, to not attend.
  • Adopt lenient refund policies for people who are high risk. 
  • Find ways to give people more physical space to limit close contact as much as possible.
  • Encourage attendees to wash hands frequently.
  • Clean surfaces with standard cleaners.

NC DHHS recommends that all travelers returning from countries and US states impacted by COVID-19 follow DHHS guidance on self-monitoring:

Sources :  Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNorth Carolina Department of Health & Human Services 

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.
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