Sunset Stories

Answers to Basic Questions About the Coronavirus

Posted by Gayle Young on Mar 9, 2020 10:14:44 AM

Whatever your preferred news source—newspapers, newsfeeds, news networks—it’s hard to avoid headlines about the latest coronavirus outbreak. The extensive media coverage is helping to raise awareness of steps people can take to reduce their chances of contracting the virus. But, at the same time, conflicting news stories are causing many people to panic.

Here at Sunset, we’ve been carefully monitoring developments reported by healthcare officials and implementing recommended precautions. And, while we’re not qualified to offer medical advice, we can answer some fundamental questions about the disease. Here are responses to some questions our residents are asking us.

NOTE: If you experience any flu-like symptoms, don’t wait to seek professional medical attention. Consult a physician immediately.


What is meant by the term novel coronavirus?

As the word implies, a “novel” coronavirus is a form of the disease identified in humans for the first time. Scientists began discovering human coronaviruses in the 1960s. The current coronavirus, called COVID-19, is the seventh form known to infect people.

Why is it called COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019 (CO = corona, VI = virus, and D = disease).

What is the difference between COVID-19 and influenza?

Both COVID-19 and influenza are infectious respiratory diseases. While COVID-19 and the flu have many of the same symptoms, they are products of different viruses.

Shared symptoms include fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, and—in some cases—vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and, in rare cases, can lead to pneumonia or death.

Because COVID-19 is still a new disease, scientists have much to learn about how it compares to other respiratory illnesses.

How does the coronavirus spread?

Doctors linked initial COVID-19 infections to a live animal market in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The virus now appears to be spreading between humans. Because of large outbreaks in some countries, it also seems that COVID-19 is highly contagious.

How can I avoid getting the virus?

Scientists could be months or years away from developing a vaccine against COVID-19. For now, authorities recommend following these standard precautions that help prevent the spread of any respiratory disease:

  • Avoid close contact with people who might be sick
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or more
  • In between hand washings, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick to avoid infecting others

Do facemasks help?

Experts generally advise that healthy individuals avoid wearing facemasks to protect against COVID-19—or any other respiratory disease—unless they are in close contact with someone showing symptoms. On the other hand, those exhibiting symptoms of the disease should wear facemasks to prevent spreading the virus.

Should I get tested for COVID-19?

You should always consult a physician when you experience any respiratory disease symptoms, such as fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing. You should also let your doctor know if you’ve been around someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or if you’ve recently traveled to or from a region where the disease is prevalent.

Your doctor will work with public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine whether you should seeking testing for COVID-19.

Can my pet get the coronavirus?

While there have been no reports of humans passing COVID-19 to animals, those diagnosed with the disease should limit contact with pets until officials know more about how the virus spreads.

Is Sunset still allowing visitors?

Yes, you many still visit family and friends at Sunset. However, if you are feeling ill or are experiencing any respiratory illness symptoms, please consider postponing your visit until you are feeling better.

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Topics: Senior Wellness, Healthcare, Preventative Care