From The New York Times and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), March 6, 2020:

What is Coronavirus?   

It is a virus similar to the flu virus.  There are different types of Coronavirus.  The newest type was first identified in 2019 so this new one is called COVID-19. 

Why is COVID-19 a problem?  

COVID-19 is so new there is not yet a vaccine to prevent people from getting it.  COVID-19 is spreading in many different countries including the USA. 

COVID-19 in the USA:  

So far 300 people in the USA have tested positive (have the virus).  Most cases are in two states – Washington and California.  In Washington, there are more than 80 have tested positive and 14 people have died.  California has treated 70 people. One person has died.  Every day more and more people are getting the virus.

How do I know if I have COVID-19? 

COVID-19 starts deep in the lungs. The most common signs are fever and dry cough, followed by tiredness and shortness of breath. If you have any of these symptoms try to stay at home.  If you have a high fever or shortness of breath the best thing to do is to call your doctor to let them know and ask what they want you to do. 

What can you do to protect yourself?  

Most important: Do not panic. Yes, the outbreak is a serious public health concern but most people who get  COVID-19 do not become seriously ill.  By following some basic steps, you can help reduce your risk and do your part to protect others:

1. Keep your hands clean.  Wash them often and lather them with soap; don’t forget the backs of your hands, between your fingers or under your nails. Make sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are good too if they contain at least 60% alcohol.  Rub it in for about 20 seconds.

2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

3. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.  If you do not have a tissue sneeze and cough into your elbow.

5. Keep your distance from sick people. If someone has flu-like symptoms try to stay six feet away.

6. Stay home when you are sick.