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How Does the Coronavirus Spread? Should I Order Takeout? Your Covid-19 Questions, Answered

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Create a space dedicated to work, outside of the bedroom and away from the couch, if you can. Put on some clothes you wouldn’t be totally embarrassed to enter the office in, and keep the TV off until you’re done for the day. It’s hard to believe, but when you don’t have the mental partition of a commute to and from the office to help you decompress at the end of a day, it can be difficult to disengage. Try powering down Slack or email at the end of the day and take a quick walk around the block. Even under a shelter-in-place order, most locations are letting folks get out for some fresh air and exercise. Just don’t forget to keep a little distance (about 6 feet) between you and anyone else who’s out and about.

7. Should I avoid group gatherings?

On March 15, the CDC expanded its recommendation on large group gatherings, advising groups and events of 50 people or more to shut down for at least 8 weeks. For those in high-risk categories it’s a good idea to cancel any gatherings of 10 or more people. That said, you might be wondering what the actual risk of attending a birthday party or going to the grocery store could be.

Joshua Weitz, a quantitative biologist at Georgia Tech, put together a Covid-19 risk assessment chart for exactly this reason. If there were only 2,000 cases of coronavirus nationwide, you have about a .0061 percent chance of catching the virus while attending a 10-person dinner party, but if you sat in the stands at the March Madness championship game, those odds could bump up to around 45 percent.

You can also lower your risk by making more infrequent trips to the store, working from home (when possible), and taking precautionary measures like hand washing and setting some 6 foot boundaries.

8. What’s a pandemic?

On March 11, the World Health Organization officially upgraded Covid-19 to pandemic status. A full-blown pandemic may sound frightening (after all, it shares the same root word as pandemonium), but the designation isn’t based on how dangerous the disease is. As epidemiologist Seema Yasmin explains, a pandemic is characterized by how geographically widespread a particular illness has become.

Since the beginning of the year, the coronavirus has spread to 114 countries and infected more than 118,000 people, and many researchers studying the disease have been treating the coronavirus as a pandemic for weeks. But the disease’s rapid spread is also fostering plenty of misinformation and fear, so accurate messaging is vitally important. WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus cautioned that the word should not be used “lightly or carelessly” and said that the classification does not change the level of threat posed by the virus.

Read all of our coronavirus coverage here.

9. Does hand-washing work?

Yes! Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the most effective ways to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus (or any virus, for that matter). A virus is contained within a fatty lipid barrier, which it uses to bind to your cells and spread throughout your body. When you break this greasy envelope, you kill the virus. What’s tough on grease? Hand soap and sanitizer (you can even make your own).

Though a virus on your hands can’t break the skin barrier to infect you (except through a cut or abrasion), it can enter your system if you touch your face and it wends its way into one of the many openings there. So wash your hands and seriously, don’t touch your face.

10. Is there an increased risk for people with underlying health conditions?

According to early research published in the New England Journal of Medicine that looked at more than 1,000 Wuhan residents who contracted the coronavirus, it’s not just older adults that are susceptible to severe illness; people with chronic health conditions are also at a higher risk.

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