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2019 Coronavirus in USA - 6 Prevention Tips

The recent novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 or SARS-CoV 2, has led to the World Health Organization declaring the outbreak as a global pandemic, while the president declared a state of national emergency. While this is not a time for panic, the novel coronavirus should be taken seriously by everyone. Learn more about why you should be concerned about COVID-19 below.

How Dangerous is Coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus is potentially deadly, though that does not necessarily mean that everyone who contracts the virus will die. Statistics from China suggest that the coronavirus has a mortality rate of about 2.3%.1 By comparison to other similar viral outbreaks, coronavirus is not as deadly as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which has a 10.0% mortality rate, nor is it as deadly as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) with a mortality rate of 35%.2

Coronavirus is certainly not as deadly as the Ebola virus, which has an estimated 90% mortality rate. However, the novel coronavirus is deadlier than the seasonal flu, which has a mortality rate of less than 0.1%.3

The virus can affect anyone of any age, though the elderly, those with a compromised immune system, and those with comorbidities, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure, are at a greater risk of both contracting the disease and potentially dying from the disease. However, younger people and those with healthy immune systems are by no means exempt.

The virus is also capable of affecting children and infants. Thus far, the youngest patient diagnosed with the coronavirus was a newborn baby that was just 30 hours old. The baby was reported to be in stable condition. However, the doctors were unsure if the virus was passed to the baby before or after its birth.4

The youngest fatality from the virus so far is a 29-year-old doctor from Wuhan, China.4 Reports of the virus affecting younger adults has been confirmed in Belgium18 and in the United States. Patients in their 30s with no previous health conditions are requiring treatment in the ICU. This is by no means an accurate depiction of how all 30 year olds will be affected by COVID-19 but severe illness is possible in the young and healthy.

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How Do You Get Coronavirus?

How Does the Coronavirus Spread?

Is Coronavirus Airborne? One of the most worrisome things about the novel coronavirus is just how contagious it is. Coronavirus is spread through droplets in the air created when someone breathes, coughs, or sneezes. These virus particles can infect healthy individuals when they make their way to the eye, nose, or mouth. Furthermore, coronavirus particles can last on the following surfaces:

Aerosols – 3 hours

Copper – 4 hours

Cardboard – 24 hours

Plastic and Stainless Steel - 2-3 Days19

When someone touches contaminated surfaces with active virus particles and subsequently touches their face, they can infect themselves. 

Why Is Coronavirus So Contagious?

Initially, scientists believed that COVID-19 was similar to SARS and MERS before it. SARS and MERS infected people by binding to the ACE2 receptors found in lung tissue.

However, further studies and recent research suggest that the novel coronavirus is even more infectious than previous SARS and MERS viruses because its “spike protein,” a type of attachment protein, has changes that allow it to bind to the human furin proteases that are expressed in many human cells.5 

Furin is an extremely common enzyme that plays a variety of broad and significant roles in human homeostasis, from embryogenesis to catalyzing the maturation of various proprotein substrates, including growth factors and receptors.6

Furin is found in a wide range of human tissues, including the lungs, liver, and small intestines, so the virus can potentially infect multiple organs at once. By comparison, SARS and other coronaviruses of the same genus do not have these furin activation sites.7

This is all exacerbated by the fact that, unlike the flu, there is currently no vaccine for the novel coronavirus. This means that currently no one is necessarily immune to the disease and that anyone is susceptible to getting infected by it.

Coronavirus Can be Spread By Through Contact with the Eye

Researchers have found that the coronavirus can make its way to the respiratory tract after 1 day of being in contact with the eye. While this study was done in rhesus monkeys, it could hold true for humans as well.20

Can You Get Re-infected with Coronavirus After You’ve Recovered From It?

Another troubling aspect of the novel coronavirus is that it may potentially re-infect those who had the virus and recovered from it. Normally, when you are infected by a virus, your immune system develops antibodies that can protect you from that specific virus and prevent re-infection.

However, there have already been a few cases of people with coronavirus who have recovered but then gotten sick again with the same virus. This worries some health experts, who worry that the illness could stay dormant in the system following recovery. In that dormancy, you may show minimal symptoms, but as the virus works its way to your lungs, the infection may surface again.8

Ultimately, the course of the coronavirus infection is not clear-cut, and much still remains unknown about the virus. It is not certain if people who are infected with the virus will necessarily suffer a re-infection.

Re-infection could actually be a result of releasing patients from hospitals prematurely from errors in testing that show false negatives.9

Carriers May Be Asymptomatic 

Currently, the known symptoms of the novel coronavirus include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Severe emergency signs of an infection include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Bluish tinge in the lips or face
  • Sudden confusion or inability to arouse10

However, the more concerning thing is that people may have the virus without actually showing any symptoms or the symptoms may be delayed. This means that people may be carriers for the virus without even knowing it. They may not be coughing or sneezing and may still be able to pass on the virus.

Following the NBA’s recent suspension of its season, both Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons were found to test positive for the novel coronavirus but were both asymptomatic. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz was the first in the league to test positive for coronavirus and showed minimal symptoms.12

This is increasingly troubling as people may have the virus, but they may believe themselves to be healthy because they don’t show any symptoms. They may then continue their everyday activities and unknowingly spread the virus to others.

Coronavirus Can Survive Outside the Human Body for a Long Time

Another big concern is that the novel coronavirus can survive for relatively long periods of time outside of the human body. The length of time varies depending on the surface the virus is on.

Aerosols – 3 hours

Copper – 4 hours

Cardboard – 24 hours

Plastic and Stainless Steel - 2-3 Days19

By comparison, the average flu virus lasts only about 24 to 48 hours on any surface.14

What You Can Do

While we still have so much to learn and study about the novel coronavirus, there are several simple steps you can take to prevent the spread of the disease.

Wash Your Hands

One of the most constant refrains is “wash your hands”, and with good reason. While it is possible to potentially contract the virus via water droplets from coughing or sneezing, you are more likely to contract the virus by making contact with a person or surface infected with the coronavirus and then touching your face. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water, can easily kill the virus and significantly reduces your risk of contracting the virus, especially before eating meals. Make sure you use proper technique, foaming up your palms, the back of your hand, and between your fingers for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have immediate access to a sink or handwashing station, hand sanitizer can still be effective, but hand sanitizer should not be your replacement for actual handwashing.

Furthermore, avoid touching your face. The virus can easily spread from your hands to your face to your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Wipe Down Surfaces

One of the few bits of good news is that the novel coronavirus is relatively easy to kill on most surfaces all surfaces using common household cleaners. Products containing 62 to 71 percent ethanol, 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) can easily and efficiently inactivate coronaviruses within just one minute.14

Make sure to wipe down and disinfect regularly, particularly objects and surfaces that you come into contact with regularly, including:

  • Your phone and other mobile devices
  • Your desk
  • Your keyboards
  • Doorknobs
  • Handles on cabinets and drawers

Social Distancing

Social distancing has also become a common refrain for avoiding the virus and preventing its spread. It is frequently cited alongside self-quarantine, which is a large part of social distancing but not the only aspect. Social distancing essentially refers to maintaining your physical distance from others and essentially removing yourself from social gatherings. This helps to dramatically slow the spread of the virus from person to person, and when enacted on a larger scale, keeps the virus from quickly spreading within a community and putting pressure on resources and healthcare.15

Some tips for social distancing:

  • If possible, work from home to prevent contracting the virus or spreading it to coworkers, clients, and patrons.
  • Avoid large public gatherings, including bars, restaurants, concerts, and parties.
  • Only go out if it is absolutely necessary (like for groceries or emergencies).
  • If you do need to get out of the house (whether you need exercise or just need the fresh air), avoid high population areas. Go to the gym or market at off-peak hours. Maintain a distance of at least six feet from others. Again, make sure you wash your hands once you get back home.16

As discouraging as social distancing can seem, it is important to take this seriously not just for your own health, but for the health of the entire community. Everyone can be a vector for the disease, which gets even more troublesome when you realize that some people can be asymptomatic or exhibit mild symptoms.

Avoid Panic Buying

It is easy to panic and purchase an excessive amount of toilet paper, hand soap, face masks, and hand sanitizer, but panic buying does not do anyone any good. You are more accurately wasting your own money while depriving necessary resources from other community members, including hospitals and healthcare providers, the elderly, and the immunosuppressed. Be responsible and buy only what you need.

While the coronavirus is worrisome, we are learning more and more about it every day. Drugs and vaccines are currently in development. Researchers have found that the anti-malarial drug chloroquine was able to inhibit coronavirus growth when the drug was administered to lung cells outside of the body.

The concentration needed to inhibit viral growth is equivalent to amounts used for the treatment of acute malaria, which means that the dosage required is safe. Clinical trials are underway.17

In the meantime, the best thing you can do is to stay calm, stay informed, and prepare responsibly. While it’s easy to panic, it won’t help anyone and may actively be detrimental with anxieties already so high. Avoid large crowds, wash your hands frequently, and use a mask when traveling or going into large crowds. Above all, remember that we all have a responsibility to ourselves and to the health of our entire community. Be considerate and do not go out if you feel unwell. Wash your hands often and cough into your elbow instead of your hands.

Face Masks

In response to the urgent need for face masks, many people have begun making their own from various materials, such as scarfs and antimicrobial pillowcases.

While these may offer some degree of protection, they offer a lot less protection than surgical masks or respirators.

  • One study indicated that homemade masks may be half as effective as surgical masks and up to 50 times less effective than N95 masks.
  • Another study showed that compared to homemade masks, surgical masks performed three times better in a bacterial filtration test and twice as well at blocking droplets in a cough test.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that in settings where face masks aren’t available, homemade face masks can be used as a last resort.

Immunity Supports:

Fruits and Vegetables: Eating leafy greens and fruits high in vitamins like citruses, blackberries, and kiwi product your body with essential vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin D3: 1200 IU Daily

Get the Flu Shot: To avoid confusing seasonal flu with COVID-19

Zinc: 80 mg daily

Vitamin C: 250 mg daily

Beta Glucan: 250 mg daily

Elderberry: Syrup, gummies or lozenges four times a day for 5 days.

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