WXXI AM News

Allison Aubrey

New preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is helping create a picture of the spectrum of illness caused by COVID-19 in the U.S.

The findings echo what's been documented in China: The risk of serious disease and death is higher in older age groups. But they aren't the only age groups at risk.

By now, you've heard the advice that to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., we need to practice social distancing. But if you're confused as to what that looks like in practice, we've got some answers.

On Monday, the White House announced new guidelines for the next two weeks, urging Americans to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people; to avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, or social visits; and not to go out to restaurants or bars.

The way the world says hello is changing. Quickly.

In lieu of the germ-rich exchange of the handshake, alternative salutations are taking hold.

In Tanzania, President John Magufuli introduced a low-touch greeting when he met with the opposition leader from Zanzibar Seif Sharif Hamad, reports Eyder Peralta, NPR's correspondent in east Africa. It takes the form of a catchy, two-part salute, using both hands and feet.

How long can the new coronavirus live on a surface, like say, a door handle, after someone infected touches it with dirty fingers? A study out this week finds that the virus can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

Anxiety thrives on uncertainty.

And, as the coronavirus spreads, our unanswered questions can make us feel vulnerable or fearful. "Will it come to my community" or "Am I at risk?'

"We've got national anxiety at the moment, a kind of shared stress, and we are all in a state of extreme uncertainty," says Catherine Belling, an associate professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, who studies the role of fear and anxiety in health care.

As the case count of coronavirus infections continues to rise in China, the number of reported infections among children is remarkably low.

"We're seeing [about] 75,000 total cases at this point, but the literature is only reporting about 100 or so pediatric cases," says Terri Lynn Stillwell, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Efforts to stem the tide of teen vaping seem to be a step behind the market. By the time Juul pulled most of its flavored pods from the market in October of 2019, many teens had already moved on to an array of newer, disposable vape products.

There's a seasonality to many viruses. Flu and cold viruses tend to peak in winter months, then die down with warmer weather.

Will the newly identified coronavirus and the disease it causes — COVID-19 — follow a similar pattern?

Before that question can be answer, let's consider how seasons and temperature influence the spread of viruses.

The common cold is a top reason for missed work and school days. Most of us have two or three colds per year, each lasting at least a week.

There's no real cure, but studies from the last several years show that some supplement containing zinc can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms by up to 40% — depending on the amount of the mineral in each dose and what it's combined with.

Two-thirds of Americans say the novel coronavirus poses a "real threat" and has not been "blown out of proportion."

And, though the majority of Americans are concerned about the potential spread of the virus within the U.S., 61% also say U.S. government officials are doing enough to prevent it.

Pages