Last updated: 4/23/2020
Note: This post will be continually updated as additional resources become available.
We’re working diligently to track what authoritative organizations are saying about the virus and we’ve copied and pasted some of the most relevant information from these sources below. You’ll also find sources for all the content referenced in each section.
Trusted Coronavirus Information Sources
APRIL 2020 UPDATE: The White House has created coronavirus.gov in collaboration with the CDC and FEMA. This resource offers regularly-updated information about coronavirus symptoms, alerts, and guidelines as well as links to specific resources for small business owners.
For more in-depth information about the coronavirus from sources considered most reliable, please visit the links below.
How the Virus Spreads
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with COVID-19, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
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, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How easily the virus spreads
How easily a virus spreads from person to person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.
How to Protect Yourself
Take steps to protect yourself
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Take steps to protect others
Stay home if you’re sick
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a face mask if you are sick
- If you are sick: You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a face mask if they enter your room.
- If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask). Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently-touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
How Long Does Coronavirus Live Outside the Body
A review of 22 previous studies on other types of coronavirus found that the virus can survive on surfaces such as glass, metal, and plastic for up to nine days at room temperature — but that it is easily inactivated by cleaners (Kampf, 2020).
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in aerosols for up to three hours, on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours (Doremalen, 2020).
If the virus is surviving on these surfaces, it is possible for the virus to get transferred to you when you touch them — even if there aren’t other people around. This is why it’s important to frequently wash your hands. It’s also important to remember that face masks are not meant for repeat use. You should throw them away after using them for two to three hours or after being in a crowded public place or near someone who is sick.
“The CDC notes that there’s a low risk of infection from products that have been shipped from areas with outbreaks because of the virus’s “low survivability on surfaces.”
The CDC notes that there’s a low risk of infection from products that have been shipped from areas with outbreaks because of the virus’s “low survivability on surfaces” (2019-nCoV Frequently Asked Questions, 2020).
Testing for COVID-19
There are laboratory tests that can identify the virus that causes COVID-19 in respiratory specimens. State and local public health departments have received tests from CDC while medical providers are getting tests developed by commercial manufacturers. All of these tests are Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panels, which can provide results in 4 to 6 hours.
Who should be tested
Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Here is some information that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.
- Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
- There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.
- Testing results may be helpful to inform decision-making about who you come in contact with.
CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.
- Clinicians should work with their state and local health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories or work with clinical or commercial laboratories.
How to get tested
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your state or local health department or a medical provider. While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.
What to do after you are tested
- If you test positive for COVID-19, see If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone.
- If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your specimen was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. It is possible that you were very early in your infection at the time of your specimen collection and that you could test positive later, or you could be exposed later and then develop illness. In other words, a negative test result does not rule out getting sick later.
Talking to Children About Coronavirus
Remain calm and reassuring.
- Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
- Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
- Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
- Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
- Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or sick.
- Remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
- Discuss any new actions that may be taken at school to help protect children and school staff.
(e.g., increased hand washing, cancellation of events or activities)
- Get children into a hand washing habit.
- Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children when they use hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing alcohol, especially in schools and child care facilities.
Keeping you informed
- COVID-19 Global Cases — A dashboard tracking the spread of the coronavirus, by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University
- New York Times — The Times is offering free access to its extensive coronavirus coverage
Wishing you well
- Steps to Help Cope with Evolving Coronavirus Situation Advice from the Red Cross on dealing with the emotional stress
- Coping with coronavirus anxiety — Strategies from Dr. John Sharp, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School
- How to Work From Home, if You’ve Never Done It Before – Jen A. Miller is an award winning freelance writer and author. She’s a regular contributor to the New York Times