With the coronavirus virus 2019 (COVID-19) spreading worldwide, it’s important for people to become as informed as possible about what the virus is, how it spreads, symptoms to look for, and how best to protect yourself and your loved ones.

There is currently no vaccine against the virus, and the only treatments available are for symptom management. People with compromised immune systems—particularly those with respiratory illnesses—are especially vulnerable if exposed.

Dr. Gregory Cosgrove, Chief Medical Officer of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, underscores the potential seriousness of the virus for people with underlying respiratory issues: 

“The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation medical team is actively monitoring the evolving outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus to evaluate the potential health implications for the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community in the USA.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have provided the following facts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.*

What is COVID-19 and what are its symptoms?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. People who contracted the virus have experienced mild to severe:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Many have also developed pneumonia in both lungs.

Who is at greatest risk?

COVID-19 is spread from person to person, but the ease of that transmission is unknown. The incubation period has been estimated at between two and 14 days. People who are in, or have recently been in, close contact with someone infected with the virus are at risk. 

How can we protect ourselves from exposure?

The simplest preventive measures to avoid exposure to COVID-19 include:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Not touching any part of your face with unwashed hands
  • Washing hands frequently, lathering and scrubbing hands with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds before rinsing with running water

What if I think I may have the virus?

If you are experiencing symptoms, call your doctor to inform them of your exposure and symptoms. The office will instruct you on obtaining care without exposing others.

In the meantime:

  • Stay home and don’t invite visitors over.
  • Disinfect frequently handled surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and faucets.
  • Cover your face with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, and throw it away immediately.

To learn more about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

*US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 21). What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) [Fact Sheet].