COVID-19 FAQs: Information about coronavirus (COVID-19)
A: There are seven strains of human coronavirus. Four cause common cold-like symptoms, and the other three can cause much more severe lung infections, such as pneumonia. The three more serious types are SARS-CoV-1 virus, MERS virus and the latest one named SARS-CoV-2, which is currently causing a worldwide outbreak of infections and is referred to as COVID-19. The original strain was first detected in China in December 2019 and is a bat strain of coronavirus that mutated so it can now infect humans. Because the world’s population has not built immunity to the virus, COVID-19 infection has rapidly spread worldwide. Multiple waves of COVID-19 infection have occurred in the Lehigh Valley since March 2020. Each wave has been caused by variant strains of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Variants emerge when mutations transform the virus into a more stable and more transmissible form.
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus is spread mostly by aerosol droplets – small airborne particles released by infected individuals. The particles can be released when an infected individuals speaks, coughs, sneezes sings, or breathes heavily and rapidly (during exercise, for example). These droplets can be inhaled or spread by human contact. Coronavirus is not effectively transmitted on surfaces.
Social distancing, frequent hand sanitizing/washing and wearing a mask are key measures to lessen the chance of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus.
A: Face masks, particularly surgical masks and N95 respirators, are effective in preventing COVID-19 transmission. This means two things:
- when you are infected, wearing a mask or respirator reduces the chances of spreading the infection to those around you (this is known as source control).
- when you are in crowds or gatherings, a mask or respirator can reduce your risk of getting infected.
The decision to wear a mask depends on many things. Some questions to consider:
- How many COVID cases are there in your community?
- Are you visiting a place that is known to have high community levels of COVID?
- Are you actively infected with COVID?
- Have you been recently exposed to someone known to have COVID?
- What activities are occurring at the place you are visiting?
- What is the ventilation like in the place you are visiting?
- How long will you be visiting this place?
- How crowded is the place you are visiting?
Some people may carry the coronavirus without experiencing any symptoms, while the virus may be life-threatening to others. Although there are some known risk factors, it is still unknown how each person will respond to COVID-19. In the early days of the pandemic, we used cloth masks to protect ourselves, but now we are learning that surgical masks and respirators (KN95 and N95) are more effective in preventing transmission.
COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets that can be created when someone coughs or sneezes.
A: When possible, distance yourself from others. This includes utilizing home delivery/online ordering whenever possible and keeping 6 feet of physical distance between you and from others.
All people should be mindful of hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly as proven ways to reduce chances of becoming infected
A: COVID-19 can cause illness ranging from mild upper respiratory symptoms (like a cold) to causing death. Severe disease can occur requiring hospitalization, oxygen support, and mechanical ventilation. The World Health Organization in January 2020 declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Newer variants like omicron are very contagious. Some individuals, especially children, can develop multi-system inflammatory syndrome (also known as MIS-C) which can be fatal. Certain common medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension can increase a person’s risk of developing severe disease. In addition, many people after recovering from COVID may have after-effects that last many months such as fatigue, brain fog, muscle and joint pains, known as “long COVID.”
If you have other questions concerning COVID-19 or about LVHN services, please call 888-402-LVHN (5846).