This post will answer these questions:
- How is this the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 transferred?
- How do I get infected with COVID-19?
- Can I go to the grocery store?
- What’s the most important steps I can take to protect myself and my family from this coronavirus?
- Should I tell people I’m sick If I have COVID-19? What will they think?
So the test was positive but no need to panic. Last night was not the greatest. I’m not so sick, but a pleasant night’s sleep it was not. I had some chills and body aches and a dry hacking cough that kept me up most of the night, but I made it through. It feels like I have a mild case of the flu. Today, the acetaminophen (1000mg every 6 hours) made a big difference and I was functional. At least I was as functional as a man can be while a prisoner in his own basement.
So how did I get this little bugger? It’s quite remarkable that something that is so small that it makes other microorganisms look like mountains has brought the entire world to its knees. What is this thing anyways and how does it spread so fast.
Viruses are simply packages of genetic material wrapped in a protein shell and packed in a lipid bag. The virus cannot propagate on its own the way bacteria can. It needs your cells for that. It injects its DNA or RNA into your cells and hijacks the machinery of your cells to reproduce itself. This virus is technically called SARS-CoV2 and the disease it causes is COVID-19. SARS CoV-1 caused the SARS epidemic in 2003. I’m going to use the term COVID19 for both.
The real issue is, how does it get in you? How does one get infected? The answer primarily is via the fomite to face pathway. The word of the day will have to be fomite. A fomite is any inanimate object that, when contaminated with or exposed to an infectious agent, can transfer the organism to someone else.
With COVID-19, the virus lives in large droplets. Large droplets are what you spew with a cough or sneeze. The good news is that they only travel 6 feet. The bad news is that my basement prison is coated in them for sure. What happens is as follows:
- Because of the size of the droplets, they fall to the ground before travelling 6 feet.
- Someone with coronavirus coughs, emitting large droplets containing the virus. Droplets settle on surfaces in the room, creating a thin film of coronavirus. The virus may be shed in nasal secretions as well, which could be transmitted to the environment.
- The virus persists on fomites in the environment. Depending on the type of surface, it may persist for roughly four days
- Someone else touches the contaminated surface hours or days later, transferring the virus to their hands.
- If the hands touch a mucous membrane (eyes, nose, or mouth), this may transmit the infection.
This is all good news because it tells us how to prevent the spread:
- Wash your hands a lot. 20 seconds with soap and water or 60% or higher alcohol hand sanitizer (Whisky is not a high enough alcohol concentration so save it, you may need it for other reasons). Don’t forget to get your wrists as well.
- Clean surfaces frequently. If you touch it, clean it. Any household cleaner will work.
- Try not to touch your face. If you have an itch that must be scratched sanitize your hands before and after.
- Even if you come into contact with the virus if you wash your hands before touching your face you won’t get infected.
- If you stay 6 feet away from an infected person they can’t cough or sneeze it on you.
What does this mean?
- If you want to go to the grocery store you can (as long as you haven’t been knowingly exposed). Just be sure to wash the cart handle with lysol wipes or with alcohol solution. Bring hand sanitizer.
- You don’t need to wear a mask. Since the virus is transmitted more from your hands by touching your face and not by directly inhaling, masks don’t help. It may be a problem if someone who is infected directly coughs or sneezes in your face which is why healthcare workers need to wear masks.
- You can go out and jog or walk. Try to stay more than 6 feet away from people. Even if you don’t stay that far away there is not much to worry about unless a jogger passes by and coughs directly on you which seems unlikely. You probably will need these outdoor treks to help you with your cabin fever. You should definitely avoid gyms and places with close contact, though.
- From the onset of symptoms do your best to think of anyone you came into close contact with in the prior 7 days and let them know you’re not feeling well.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:
If you feel sick, assume you have COVID-19 and isolate yourself. Think of all the people you have come into contact with and immediately let them know, so that they can take appropriate precautions. You might save a life.