Here's how COVID-19 spreads, and how you can protect yourself

Posted at 4:57 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 19:45:15-05

BOISE, Idaho — As the coronavirus (COVID-19) starts to spread in the United States, health experts say catching it depends on four key factors:

  1. How close you are to an infected person
  2. How long you're near the person
  3. Whether the person projects viral droplets (saliva, mucus, etc.)
  4. How much you touch your face

COVID-19 can also live on surfaces.

The Department of Health and Welfare says the risk in Idaho is low. Six people are currently being monitored for COVID-19, and three have been tested, but officials say there are no confirmed cases in Idaho.

There are no vaccines to prevent coronavirus, so according to the CDC the best way to prevent the illness is to engage in everyday hygiene regimens, including:

  • Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based (at least 60%) hand sanitizer.
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue – NOT your hands.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Staying home, and self-isolate, if you’re sick. Ill students should email faculty to inform them of absences. Employees should email their supervisor.

If you have been in an affected area with apparent community spread within the past 14 days, are concerned you might have been exposed, and have symptoms of fever or cough, officials recommend you call your doctor.

Southwest District Health staff and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers say they plan to set up a call center beginning Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The call center will operate between the hours of 8am and 8pm, Monday through Friday, and can be reached at (208) 455-5411.

“Many people don’t realize that the virus causing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is different than the typical coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans. The same precautions should be taken to avoid any coronaviruses and other respiratory diseases such as the flu,” said Southwest District Health Epidemiologist Cheryl Craig.

Governor Brad little will host a press conference at 11 a.m. on March 4 to discuss the state's preparations for the virus.

For the latest, Idaho-specific information, click here.