According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the daily average of new COVID-19 cases started increasing in September, and experts worry this upward trend will continue as more people ignore basic guidelines to wear facial coverings and practice social distancing. With the holidays approaching, temperatures dropping and more people heading indoors to gather, it looks as if we are at risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Now is not the time to let down our guard. Here are five quick reminders about COVID-19 — keep them top of mind and share them with loved ones. It’s up to all of us to slow the spread.
5 quick COVID-19 facts to remember
- Masks save lives. According to a recent study, if 95% of Americans wear masks when in public and around others not from their own household, more than 100,000 lives could be saved over the next four months. Wearing masks, combined with other precautions, can also help slow the spread of the disease so that schools and businesses can remain open and future lockdowns can be avoided. Masks should cover the nose and mouth, and be snugly secured to the head. It is important to wash your cloth face covering with detergent and hot water — and safely throw away disposable masks — after each use.
- People without symptoms can spread COVID-19. You can be infected with COVID-19 and not experience any symptoms — also known as being asymptomatic — but you can still spread the illness to other people, including people who might be at risk for severe COVID-19 illness. This is why following precautions — wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, and frequently washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol — remains extremely important, even among close friends and family members who live in different households.
- COVID-19 can cause severe illness in people of all ages. While the majority of people with COVID-19 experience mild symptoms, a small percentage of people will be hospitalized. What’s more, a small number of children and adults experience a rare, life-threatening condition that can cause dangerous inflammation in the eyes, skin, blood vessels and heart. Others experience long-term health problems — fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headache, joint pain, mood disorders, and even heart, lung and brain damage — that can persist for months. And more than 248,000 Americans have died (as of Nov. 17, 2020).
- Increased COVID-19 cases combined with flu cases could overwhelm health care systems. Some hospitals, especially those in remote areas, have limited capacity and medical equipment, including ventilators. If they are faced with surges of both severe flu and COVID-19 cases, they may become overwhelmed. Concerned about the likely increase in cases, some states are resorting to building field hospitals, transferring patients to other states, and preparing to have to ration care in their ICUs, meaning the most ill or the elderly may be denied treatment.
- No one wants to make a loved one sick, but you might. Small gatherings are becoming hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the more people from different households at a gathering, the closer the physical interactions are, and the longer the interactions last, the greater the risk that someone who has COVID-19 — with or without symptoms — may spread it to others. People who are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 illness, such as older adults or those with medical conditions; people who feel sick or have been diagnosed with or are showing symptoms of COVID-19; or people who have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should not attend in-person gatherings.
Learn what Sharp HealthCare is doing in response to COVID-19.