The Surgeon General tweeted Saturday Morning the Americans should stop buying face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

To protect ourselves from the coronavirus, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we do the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

The New York Times has published a rather extensive article comparing the coronavirus to the flu. The paper writes:

Most cases of coronavirus infection are not severe, but some people do become quite sick. Data from the largest study of patients to date, conducted in China, suggests that of coronavirus patients receiving medical attention, 80 percent had mild infections, about 15 percent had severe illnesses, and 5 percent were critical.

The first symptoms, fever and cough, are similar to that of the flu, so the diseases can be hard to tell apart without a test to identify the virus. Pneumonia is common among coronavirus patients, even among those whose cases are not severe.

Experts think there may also be many people with no symptoms at all, or such mild ones that they never bother to seek medical attention. Because those cases have not been counted, it’s not possible now to know the real proportion of mild versus severe cases.

The paper seems to make the argument that the death rate from coronavirus may be similar, or even a little less than the flu. They also make the argument that the impact the flu has on peoples health and the deaths from it every season is a good reason for the CDC to keep the virus from taking hold here in America.

As for face masks, the CDC offers some more guidance on who should and shouldn't wear face masks:

"Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

My takeaway, from articles, news reports, and reading the CDC's website is that coronavirus, like the flu, isn't an illness you want to experience. It's severity will vary from person to person, but most healthy people will recover completely. Our government has to plan for the worst, and the coronavirus does seem that it can spread more easily in communities where people work, live and travel together. So it has the potential to disrupt our lives. Concern is good, awareness of and knowledge of the virus is good.

For more education and information on the coronavirus you can check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.



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