1 What is COVID-19?

The coronavirus, COVID-19, is apart of a large family of viruses that can cause varying respiratory complications. The symptoms can range from the common cold to more severe symptoms such as a respiratory infection. Scientists and medical experts initially thought that COVID-19 only affected the older population and those with pre-existing conditions, however, recent cases have shown that people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s can be severely sickened by the virus. 

Scientists estimated the genetic makeup and appearance of the virus based on their knowledge of related coronaviruses, such as the first SARS virus (SARS-CoV). Since then, the CDC released an image of the virus which shows a wrinkled-appearing grey ball that has red spikes. 

2 What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can appear 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and include:

3 How to prevent COVID-19

The CDC recommends that healthcare workers, especially nurses, should wash their hands roughly 100 times per 12-hour shift. That may sound excessive, but the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from hard surfaces to patients makes it necessary. The number of patients you see and the type of care provided may cause you to increase that number. The CDC says, “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.” 

The main way viruses like COVID-19 and the flu are transmitted are through touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. In the case of a nurse, it could be touching a contaminated surface and then touching your patient, therefore transmitting the virus. 

4 How do I get tested?

You may be tested for COVID-19 if you meet the criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC advises that physicians should determine whether to order a test based on specific criteria. COVID-19 tests are not intended to be an assessment of your risk, but rather to confirm cases in symptomatic patients. If you are concerned but don’t have symptoms, please stay home. Going to a doctor’s office or hospital adds to a higher density of people and further overwhelms the medical system.

5 Who is at risk?

Currently, those at the greatest risk of infection are persons who have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient and those who live in or have recently traveled to areas with the sustained transmission.

Healthcare workers and first responders are on the frontlines of this novel virus. People who work in healthcare are even more exposed to diseases and viruses than the average person. Many are starting to experience various symptoms because of constant exposure to the virus and affected individuals. In recent weeks, thousands of healthcare workers are falling ill with the virus, with some even passing away. 

6 The appearance of the virus

The spikes give the virus the ability to stick to a protein called ACE2, commonly found on the surface of our cells. The specific contours of SARS-CoV-2’s spikes make it easier to stick in comparison to the previous SARS. Medical experts believe that the coronavirus spikes contains three segments: a large ectodomain, a short intracellular tail, and a single-pass transmembrane anchor.

7 How does the virus attack humans?

The particles of COVID-19 are spherical and have spike proteins that protrude from their surface. The spike proteins allow the virus to gain entry into human cells. To do so they undergo a structural change that allows the viral membrane to fuse with the cell membrane. The virus’s genes will then enter the host cell to be copied, producing more viruses. 

According to the researchers at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), they found that the SARS-CoV-2 spike is 10 to 20 times more likely to fuse ACE2 on human cells than the spike from the SARS virus in 2002. This may be the answer as to why SARS-CoV-2 spreads more easily than the previous coronavirus.

8 Managing an outbreak

During the outbreak of a disease, the focus needs to be on proper self-quarantine measures. Everyone including the staff members and residents of the nursing facility will need to strictly follow them. These safety measures include wearing face masks and gloves and frequent hand washing to prevent the further spread of disease.

It’s very important to reach out to anyone who has been in contact with the people affected. This can be friends, family or volunteers who have visited the currently affected individuals. If anyone has been to a nursing home that is now having a coronavirus outbreak, they should seek medical testing and limit contact with others. If you start feeling flu-like symptoms, you should speak to your physician. 

9 The coronavirus spread in nursing homes

Hospitals and nursing homes are becoming the epicenters of the coronavirus spread. Both places contain people who are most at risk for the virus, including those with chronic conditions and those who are elderly. The coronavirus is spreading coast to coast across the U.S. and is affecting nearly every state. However, some states are having outbreaks that are specifically concentrated in nursing homes. As of now, New York, New Jersey, and Michigan appear to be the most affected and reporting the most cases. 

10 Staying up-to-date on the virus

To keep track of any new developments with the coronavirus, it’s vital to pay attention to any local and state updates. Your community may be closing down certain events, stores, schools, or workplaces. Also, the CDC is putting out new information and updates every day in an effort to keep the public informed and healthy.