Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider.
New Yorker magazine. No link.

COVID-19: A novel Coronavirus
As a public service, we will attempt to bring together in this article the evidence-based and rapidly emerging information about the pandemic disease known as COVID-19. Remember, it is still in the early days and much remains to be scientifically proven about this virus and the disease it causes.
What is it?
First, it is not the flu virus. It is a coronavirus, as are the SARS and MERS viruses. However, this is a “novel” coronavirus, essentially meaning, it’s new and is not known to have been seen in humans before. It is a respiratory virus and it primarily seems to affect the health of the respiratory system in humans, most notably the lungs. It causes what is classified medically as an infectious disease and is contagious. As a worldwide population of humans, we have no herd immunity precisely because we’ve not been infected by it before. That means any one of us can get it, i.e., test positive. But not all of those folks will become ill. Of those who become ill, not all of those illnesses will be serious, critical or result in death. People can and do recover.
Who gets infected versus who gets ill?
Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health interviewed by The New Yorker magazine (sorry no link), states, “What it means to get a disease is a little vague, but, if you are thinking about it as getting infected with the virus, it looks like anybody can do that. But, if you are thinking of what it means to get a disease as actually getting ill, then it appears that children are at least somewhat protected.”
Older adults and persons with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung diseases, chronic diseases and other conditions such as life-threatening illnesses are those most likely to become ill when positive for this virus. The highest death rate is with older adults.
It is a known medical fact that people who have been infected with COVID-19, but who have no symptoms, can infect others.
How to prevent infection, stop community spread and save lives
Preventing exposure and stopping, or at least slowing, the spread are almost synonymous.
We need to break the chain of transmission. See social-distancing and flattening the curve below.
The director of the United Nations World Health Organization makes this recommendation in the strongest terms: “Test! Test! Test!” Currently, we still have a problem with getting adequate numbers of approved test kits distributed throughout the United States. The White House tells us that this is rapidly being fixed through public/private partnership.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges the following:
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. That means practicing social distancing.
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. Wash between your fingers and under fingernails.
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.
Masks and gloves
It’s debatable how effective masks are in prevention but might help in slowing the spread. In other words, if you know you are infected, a mask might help prevent you from spreading as you shed the virus. Shedding just means you “drop” viral cells which can then infect others. In a respiratory infectious disease, shedding is through the droplets from the nose and mouth. So, save the masks for caregivers and those who have the coronavirus but are at home.
Gloves will be in short supply also. However, they may be more effective than masks in preventing yourself from coming into contact with droplets left on surfaces.
When sanitizing surfaces, allow the sanitizer to air dry rather than wipe it dry, ensuring the most viral kill. See this link from the CDC:
Do cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. This should be a standard for all of us, all the time. And remember the elbow bump rather than hand shake.
How does it spread … really?
The CDC states the following:
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, especially between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). The mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets 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.
It can live on surfaces but not a long time. There are varied reports but no more than ten minutes seems to be a safe estimate.
What about social distancing and flattening the curve?
Social distancing is about prevention and also about slowing the spread. Italy is overwhelmed right now seemingly because they did not institute social distancing. And so COVID-19 spread exponentially there, with alarming numbers of deaths in 24 hours.
As of March 16, the White House now guides us to limit gatherings to 10 persons or less.
Flattening the curve is very critical for many reasons. The idea behind self-isolation and social distancing is to slow the spread of the disease. A rapid spread truly threatens to overwhelm all of our medical systems, including hospitals. As the system becomes overwhelmed, those that are ill either due to COVID-19 active illness or due to other critical illnesses, will not be able to receive the care they need. There won’t be enough beds, supplies or even personnel. Remember random acts of kindness? This is quite literally the time to give up a little in order to save others’ lives.
What if you do not show symptoms?
It’s about that prevention for you and others and stopping the spread. So, even if you are feeling great and think you are free of COVID-19, do the right thing now and practice social distancing. Remember, even people who show no symptoms, but who unknowingly are carrying COVID-19, can infect others. This is a known medical fact although the percentage of transmission this way is not yet known.