Update: COVID-19 Public Health Response

As widely reported in the media, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread globally, and the cases in the U.S. have now surpassed 100. COVID-19 is a new disease and there is more to learn about how it spreads and the severity of illness it causes. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.

The American Lung Association encourages Americans to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help reduce the spread of the disease.

Severity and symptoms

The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully understood. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death among confirmed coronavirus cases. The CDC reports that symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure, and include fever cough and shortness of breath. Older adults and those with underlying health conditions may be more at risk for severe symptoms.

Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

Preventing illness and spread

The virus is thought to spread from person-to-person between people in close contact, including through coughs and sneezes. Standard recommendations to prevent the spread of disease include:

  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If you do not have access to soap and water to wash your hands properly, use hand sanitizer with at least 60-95% alcohol.
  • If you experience symptoms of an illness, contact your healthcare provider, and stay home to avoid crowds and contact with others. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch.

Healthcare providers or public health responders caring for a COVID-19 patient, please take care of yourself and follow recommended infection control procedures.
The American Lung Association is closely following reports issued by CDC and will help relay important public health information provided by the agency.

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