CORONAVIRUS

Here's your guide to Iowa coronavirus questions and precautions

FILE - This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019
FILE - This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Health officials hope to avoid stigma and error in naming the virus causing an international outbreak of respiratory illnesses. But some researchers say the current moniker, 2019 nCoV, which stands for 2019 novel coronavirus, probably won't stick in the public's mind. (CDC via AP, File)

What is it, actually?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus first detected in China in December. It’s been named “SARS-CoV-2,” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019,” abbreviated to COVID-19.

Is it a pandemic?

The disease has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization

How severe is the sickness?

Health care providers don’t have a complete clinical picture but report the illness ranges from very mild — with some patients reporting no symptoms — to severe, even causing death.

What are the symptoms:

Symptoms for confirmed COVID-19 patients have ranged from mild to severe and have varied. Frequently reported signs and symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:

Fever in 83 to 98 percent of patients, cough in 46 to 82 percent of patients, myalgia or fatigue in 11 to 44 percent of patients, and shortness of breath in 31 percent at illness onset;

Some patients also have reported a sore throat in the illness’ early stages;

Less common symptoms include sputum production, headache, hemoptysis, and diarrhea;

Some have experienced diarrhea and nausea before developing the fever and respiratory tract symptoms;

The fever course ranges for patients.

UIHC physician Katie Imborek said symptoms with this virus can be “tricky.”

“As every day goes by, it becomes very difficult to actually be able to parse those out because the coronavirus has such nonspecific and tricky symptoms,” Imborek said.

“It's hard for us just to say, ‘Oh, that sounds like seasonal allergies,’ or ‘Oh that sounds like you just have a sore throat and a cough.’ That can be how the coronavirus presents.”

Who is at elevated risk?

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Older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are at higher risk, as are those in areas with ongoing community spread, health care workers treating COVID-19 patients and travelers returning from the most affected countries.

When will symptoms appear, and who is at risk?

COVID-19 symptoms can appear between two and 14 days after exposure. Older patients and those with chronic medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness, but younger people have contracted the disease too. Most reported cases have occurred in adults, with the median age at 59.

Who can be tested?

All testing is done through a person’s health care provider. Although testing criteria issued by the state has changed, and UIHC has flexibility with its own testing, current criteria limits testing to:                       

Hospitalized patients with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis;

Adults over age 60 with fever and respiratory symptoms – like cough and trouble breathing – and chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease;

People with fever or respiratory illness who live in a congregate setting like a long-term care facility, dormitory, residential home, correctional facility, or treatment center;

And essential services personnel with fever or respiratory illness – including health care providers, fire and EMS personnel, law enforcement officers, residential facility staff members.

How can I best protect myself and others?

The best ways to protect yourself and others is to wash your hands often with soap and water; use a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then wash your hands; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and stand at least six feet from someone. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests people disinfect their homes and frequently-touched surfaces like cellphones.

How do I protect myself at the grocery store?

Wiping your cart and wash produce are some of the University of Iowa's health expert's advice. Handwashing and removal of shoes after every outing is encouraged.

How can we help the health care providers?

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Here is a link to in-kind donations sought at UI Health Care.

Is there a vaccine?

No vaccine or medications currently exist to protect against COVID-19 or treat it.

Where can I call with questions?

The state has set up a public hotline, available 24 hours a day. seven days a week, for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. Call 2-1-1.

Sources: World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Iowa Department of Public Health, University of Iowa Health Care

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

 

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