The following information about COVID-19 is taken from the World Health Organization.
What is coronavirus and COVID-19?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in humans or animals. They are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. In people, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 is the official name of the coronavirus strain causing the current outbreak. COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31, 2019.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Dry cough
- Some patients may also experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and/or diarrhea.
How severe is COVID-19?
COVID-19 symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people may become infected but not develop any symptoms or feel unwell. Most people (about 80 percent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions (high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, etc.) are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2 percent of people with COVID-19 have died. People with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How do people catch COVID-19?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth that are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet away from a person who is sick.
Is there a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19?
Not yet. Because COVID-19 is a virus and not a bacterial infection, antibiotics are not an effective treatment. There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized.
What’s the story on medical masks? Do I need one? Why are people wearing them?
You may notice more people on campus, in our community, and in public spaces wearing medical masks. In addition to COVID-19 concerns, this is flu season. Medical personnel may be wearing medical masks while treating patients, and patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms are asked to wear a mask as well. Many other people are choosing to wear masks due to suppressed immune systems or for other reasons.
The World Health Organization is recommending that people use a mask only if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have suspected COVID-19 infection with mild symptoms, or are caring for someone with suspected COVID-19 infection.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from people who are coughing or sneezing.
Here are some additional articles on masks and their effectiveness:
CBS News: The No. 1 way to prevent coronavirus isn’t wearing a face mask
CDC: Guidance for the use of masks to control seasonal influenza virus transmission
CDC: FAQs about respirators and their use
What does Carthage do when a student becomes ill with a communicable disease?
Carthage College has long had policies in place to support ill students and keep others in our community healthy. As always, the Health and Counseling Center follows all protocols as advised by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If a student is identified to have a communicable disease, Carthage works with local and state health departments to comply with all requirements. We also have our own campus procedures for supporting students and keeping others in our community healthy.