April 1, 2020

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Facts You Can Use

Content adapted from the CDC, Johns Hopkins University, and Mayo Clinic.

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, its severity, and to what extent it may spread in the United States. To date, citizens in all 50 states in the U.S. and 151 countries around the world have contracted the virus. You can stay up to date using John Hopkins University’s interactive site with maps.

Person-to-person spread

The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Community spread

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

The State of Oregon’s current “Stay Safe. Save Lives.” order is designed to implement social distancing in order to slow the spread.


There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Take steps to protect yourself

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Under the microscope, coronaviruses looks like it has a crown or “corona” — hence the name. Beneath the crown is the outer layer of the virus, which is made up of lipids (fat). You can get rid of this outer layer by scrubbing with soap, which physically inactivates the virus. Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will break up the germ membranes it gets in direct contact with.

  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact. Especially with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and other people. Follow the 6-feet rule.

Take steps to protect others

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

If you feel sick

If you have shortness of breath or a fever or cough, or if you had recent contact with someone who had shortness of breath or a fever or cough, please tell a nurse, doctor or other health care professional as soon as possible. Contact the provider before you arrive at the provider’s office or emergency room, and tell them about your symptoms.


  • Cough
  • High temperature
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

If you or a family member contracts COVID-19

  • A larger household can more easily isolate the sick person in a separate space — a space where they can access the restroom without traveling through commons spaces would be best.
  • Those who are caring for loved ones who are sick at home should wash their hands frequently, avoid close contact as much as possible, and have the sick individual wear a surgical or procedure mask to prevent droplets spreading through the air.
  • It is also important to clean frequent- or high-touch surfaces, as well to clean clothes in very hot water. Caregivers should also wear a mask, if possible.
  • In households where it is harder to isolate, you can limit transmission at home by maintaining six feet of distance and washing your hands frequently, along with cleaning surfaces often.
  • If you are a caregiver, it’s certainly tougher. You should wear a mask if possible and follow the other guidelines of handwashing and cleaning clothes and surfaces frequently.