CFAES Give Today
Family and Consumer Sciences

Ohio State University Extension


COVID-19 Facts for Your Health and the Health of Others

March 19, 2020

By: Dan Remley, Beth Stefura, Lorrissa Dunfee, Candace Heer and Amy Meehan

Coronavirus banner image

Background: What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a “family of viruses” with crown-like spikes on their surface. This type of virus is common in people and in different species of animals. There are seven identified types of coronaviruses that can infect people and three of the viruses can cause respiratory illnesses.

In late 2019 a new coronavirus, causing respiratory infections – some fatal, was identified and named SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) in February 2020.

In February 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) named the disease, caused by the new virus SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus Disease 2019 and abbreviated COVID-19.

Please refer to these websites for more facts and tips:

How Does COVID-19 spread?

  • Still learning how it spreads and to what extent
  • Believe it is spread from person-to-person
  • By infected person who coughs or sneezes and transmits respiratory secretions to others mouth, nose or inhaled into lungs

Please Note: The Centers for Disease Control states “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

What can I do to minimize the spread of COVID-19?

  • Practice Social Distancing – stay at least 6 feet away from others
    • Telecommute when possible
    • Stay connected with loved ones electronically
  • Self-Quarantine – for two weeks
    • If you have traveled to a location where COVID-19 has spread rapidly
    • If you have come in contact with an infected person
  • Flatten the Curve – use preventive measures to slow the rate
    • Health-care systems can work to build capacity and better manage the pandemic
    • Treatments and vaccines can work to be developed

Please refer to these websites for more facts and tips

Precautions You Can Take:

Stay healthy and prevent the spread of any illness, especially respiratory infections.  Think ahead of actions that may spread any illness.  Stay home if you are sick. 

Protective measures against coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially:
    • After using the bathroom, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and before eating.
    • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Practice respiratory hygiene
    • Avoid handshakes, hugs or kisses
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and immediately throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands immediately
  • Maintain social distancing 
    • Put distance between yourself and other people
  • Stock up on essentials, avoid panic buying
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Get a flu shot if you did not receive one this year.
    • This will help reduce the burden on the health care system
  • Facemasks are not recommended for healthy people to avoid respiratory illnesses including COVID-19.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily with household cleaner or sanitizers 
    • Toys, tables, faucets, sinks, toilets, phones, electronics, keyboards, door handles, television remotes and bedside tables
  • Stay informed

Please refer to these websites for more facts and tips:

When to call your doctor?

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice. Tell him or her about your symptoms and recent travels and possible exposure before you go to your appointment.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. People who are older or have existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, may be at higher risk of serious illness. This is similar to what is seen with other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza. 

Please refer to these websites for more facts and tips:

Get Your Home Ready

Create a household plan to protect your health and the health of those you care about in the event of an outbreak. Create a household plan of action:

  • Talk with individuals who need to be included in your plan
    • Household members, relatives and friends – define the needs of everyone
  • Identify ways to care for those who may be at greater risk of health complications
    • Underlying chronic medical conditions may increase risk – consult with your health are provider for more information
  • Connect with your neighbors
    • Discuss emergency planning.  Join neighborhood social media page
  • Identify relief organizations in your community
    • Create a list of local organizations to contact in the event you need access to information, health care services, support and resources
  • Create an emergency contact list
    • Have an updated emergency contact list for family, friends, neighbors, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, local health department and other community resources
  • Choose a room in your home to use for sick household member

Please refer to these websites for more facts and tips:

For additional resources, checklists and more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19 visit or call 833-4-ASK-ODH.

Download the article PDF icon