Coronavirus disease, more commonly called COVID-19, is an infectious respiratory illness. It causes flu-like symptoms that typically include dry cough, body aches, and fever. Some patients have no symptoms. In more severe cases, difficulty breathing develops.
Difficulty breathing arises from two factors: The initial attack on the lungs and the body’s inflammatory response. Inflammation is a result of immune system activity and serves to limit the virus from progressing through the lungs.
Initial research indicated people over age 60 were at greatest risk of coronavirus hospitalization. Young children may have limited protection from the disease. However, significant coronavirus symptoms have been observed in all age groups.
Around 50% of people in the United States live in an area where social distancing has been ordered by state or local governments.
Social distancing is a means of reducing coronavirus spread by remaining at least six feet apart at all times, staying isolated as much as possible from others you do not live with, and washing your hands regularly. Many people have been ordered not to report to work.
Approximately 80% of coronavirus cases do not result in hospitalization. An unknown number of cases do not result in any symptoms. However, even people with no symptoms may “shed” the virus, enabling it to be passed on.
Most patients recover within about 10-14 days of experiencing symptoms. Of those, mild or moderate cases do not lead to permanent loss of lung capacity. However, even patients who no longer experience symptoms are infectious for up to two weeks.
The most intensive cases can lead to viral pneumonia and permanently impair lung function.
The coronavirus pandemic is like no other public health challenge in living memory. People around the world are banding together to slow the spread and find treatments. Coronavirus clinical resources depend on those who follow all social distancing guidelines, support their community’s medical professionals, and participate in coronavirus clinical trials if possible.