INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb declared a public health emergency after the first case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in the state on March 6. Since then, developments in the virus have been constant in Indiana and around the country. Our goal here at RTV6 is to keep you informed while sharing the best advice from public health officials and specialists.
Below, you'll find information on the symptoms of COVID-19, how those symptoms differ from the cold and flu, what to do if you think you have COVID-19, and how to prevent the virus.
For complete coverage on coronavirus in Indiana, theINDYchannel.com/coronavirus
Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
CORONAVIRUS VS. THE FLU
On March 2, RTV6 asked doctors at IU Health how the flu compares to the coronavirus. Both can lead to respiratory symptoms and fever, and each poses a greater risk to the elderly population and those with underlying health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
"Right now, coronavirus mortality is 1-to-2%, while flu is 0.1%, so that's scary, and I think the other thing about it that makes people talk is that we just have bunch of stuff we don't know about the virus," IU Health's medical director of infection prevention Dr. Cole Beeler said.
No vaccination exists yet for the coronavirus, and there is not an antiviral drug to treat it like there is for the flu. Beeler said doctors are more familiar with treating the flu and many people have had it from the past and know they can make a full recovery.
No vaccination exists yet for the coronavirus, and there is not an antiviral drug to treat it like there is for the flu.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE COVID-19
If you're feeling under the weather, you should take note of your symptoms. According to the CDC, the coronavirus comes with three specific symptoms: Fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you experience all of the symptoms — especially if you've been traveling to a known virus hot spot or know someone with the virus — you may be infected.
But even if your symptoms match, you shouldn't panic. There may be no cure for the coronavirus, but the vast majority of people without underlying health issues who contract the disease experience a full recovery. According to the CDC, most cases of COVID-19 will be mild. In fact, many people who contract the disease recover safely at home.
If you do think you may be infected, there are a few steps you should take:
- Call your doctor or health care provider.
- Stay at home.
- Wash your hands and disinfect.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- Continue to self-isolate until you hear otherwise.
HOW TO PREVENT COVID-19
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Department recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
- Staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with persons in poor health;
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then disposing of the tissue;
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, 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; and
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.