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State releases coronavirus information to public
March 13, 2020

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MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia, as of Tuesday, had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus; however, neighboring Maryland and Virginia both have seen cases.

To educate citizens, West Virginia University put out a fact sheet on the disease to advise precautionary measures.

The fact sheet defines the virus as part of a larger family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats. Rarely, these animal viruses can infect people and spread between them. The COVID-19 virus, the newest coronavirus disease, is one such instance.

COVID-19 shows respiratory symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Center for Disease Control believes the virus may appear between two-to-14 days after exposure. People are most contagious when they are the sickest.

Spreading the disease can be as easy as touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching one's mouth, nose or possibly eyes; however, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are 761 cases of COVID-19 in the United States with at least 27 deaths as of March 10.

It more likely spreads between individuals in close contact with one another - within six feet - and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The best way to avoid illness, says the CDC, is to avoid exposure. There is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

To protect oneself, it is recommended that efforts be made to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases by avoiding close contact with those who are ill, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth and staying home when sick. One should also cover when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue then disposing of that tissue in a trash receptacle.

Washing hands is the most important preventive measure one can take, with the action using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not readily available, one should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend the use of facemasks by those who are not sick. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.

The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that the outbreak of coronavirus in the United States will likely get worse before it gets better; but, he does not see that as a reason to panic.

While the potential range of time for the disease to spread after exposure could be up to 14 days, the CDC has not recommended that all individuals stockpile supplies. They did recommend that Americans over the age of 60 stock up on supplies to avoid crowds where there could be potential exposure.

"Older Americans, especially those with underlying health conditions, should stockpile supplies and avoid unnecessary travel," said a top CDC official on Monday, mentioning this is because older individuals are more susceptible to serious outcomes from the virus.

Fear resulting from that warning has led to local stores, including Charle Town's Walmart and Costco Warehouse in Winchester, Va., being bombarded with customers stocking up on such items as toilet paper, tissues, bottled water and cleaning supplies. To allow some measure of allowing more people get these items, Costco has initiated a two-item limit on everything from toilet paper to bottled water.

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