What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person-to-person. The official name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.
The virus is being referred to as a novel (new) coronavirus, because the virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as other coronaviruses that commonly spread among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
Terms to Know
There are terms or words you may be hearing due to the COVID-19 outbreak that may be difficult to understand. The Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center created resources written by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, self-advocates, and allies:
- Words to Know About the Coronavirus in Plain Language
- Plain Language Tips for Working with Support Staff During COVID-19
- Plain Language Information on COVID-19 in Various Languages
How does the virus spread?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, through droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
Are people with disabilities at higher risk of contracting COVID-19?
Most people with disabilities are not inherently at higher risk for becoming infected with or having severe illness from COVID-19. Some people with physical limitations or other disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection because of their underlying medical conditions. You should talk with your healthcare provider if you have a question about your health.
Are people with brain injuries at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19?
Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, those at risk of infection vary based on contact with patients with and without symptoms, confirmed COVID-19 patients, and those who live in or have recently been to areas with sustained transmission.
The available data are currently insufficient to identify risk factors for severe clinical outcomes. From the limited data that are available for COVID-19 infected patients, and for data from related coronaviruses, it is possible that older adults, and persons who have underlying chronic medical conditions, such as immunocompromising conditions, may be at risk for more severe outcomes.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People who contract COVID-19 has reported a range of mild symptoms to severe illness. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
How can I protect myself and others?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. In addition to physical distancing, you should practice the following preventative measures:
- Clean your hands often. Wash your hands 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. Click here to watch the CDC’s recommended hand washing technique.
- Avoid close contact. Putting distance between yourself and other people is critical to slowing the spread.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Wear a cloth face cover if you have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. Click here to learn how to make your own face covering at home.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. If you are in a private setting and do not have a cloth face covering on, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Click here to read the CDC’s cleaning and disinfection recommendation for households.
Please note this list is not all-inclusive. You should consult your medical provider with any other questions or if you begin to experience symptoms that are severe or concerning.