Pandemic Tips: Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

What we know so far

The virus spreads very quickly from person to person through tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It seems more lethal than the flu and hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions very hard.


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Pandemic Tips: Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

Pandemic Tips: Frequently Asked Questions and Advice


Key Ideas

Health concerns

  • As with the flu, the virus is more dangerous for people older than 60, people with a weakened immune system, and people with underlying conditions, like diabetes, asthma or other chronic illnesses.
  • If you think you have been exposed to the virus and have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. If you are only mildly ill, isolate yourself.
  • Don't wear a mask unless you're already infected or caring for someone who is.
  • There is no vaccine available yet, although the first testing of a vaccine started in mid-March.

Caring for a sick family member

If a family member gets sick and doesn't need hospitalization, they can be cared for at home.

  • Try to keep as much distance as possible.
  • If possible, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom.
  • Ensure not to share any dishes or other household items with your sick family member.
  • Clean surfaces regularly and wash your hands frequently.
  • Shared spaces should have good airflow.
  • Don't allow visitors.
  • Face masks would be helpful.

Money concerns

  • The economic fallout feels a lot like 2008, with the difference that there is a complete unpredictability of the outbreak's spread; investors are prompted to dump anything risky.
  • Don't be tempted to decrease your contributions of your 401(k). If your employer is matching any part of your contributions, ensure to save as much as you can to get the "free money." Then relax. Things will stabilize again.
  • It is not a good idea to put your money in a mattress. But you may want to keep enough cash to cover basic needs if you're retired.
  • It could be a good idea to refinance your mortgage, although the process might take time right now.

Staying at home

  • Take advantage of this time to invest in yourself.
  • Be sure to get in some exercise to burn off pent up energy.
  • Spend some time disinfecting high contact surfaces in your home.
  • To make working from home easier, keep the same schedule, schedule breaks and proactively stay in touch with others to avoid suffering from isolation. 
  • Having food and supplies on hand is essential. But you don't need to hoard food. Plan meals for two weeks.
  • If you must go out, ensure to wipe the surfaces like the shopping trolley with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
  • If your child is worried about the virus, listen to him or her, rather than dismissing them.

What we know so far

The virus spreads very quickly from person to person through tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It seems more lethal than the flu and hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions very hard.

Traveling arrangements

  • Travel has become more restricted, even banned in some places.
  • Summer vacations may be affected—the optimistic guess among experts for when the outbreak will abate hovers at about two months.
  • Keep an eye on social media and official communications to stay up-to-date with changes to refund policies.
  • You might get your money back if you cancel your flight. Many airlines are changing their policies.
  • If you purchased cancel-for-any-reason insurance for your trip, there’s a good chance you will get a good share of your money back.
  • It might be challenging to get your airline on the phone as they are overwhelmed at this time. Your best option might be media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.



Outbreak terms
  • Endemic is a disease that regularly infects humans, like the flu.
  • Pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease. 
  • Epidemic
Public health measures
  • Social distancing is a slew of tactics meant to keep people at a six feet distance from each other to keep droplets from an infected person's nose or mouth from landing on another person.
  • Quarantine is restricting the movement of, or isolating, people who might have been exposed to an infection but who aren't sick.
  • Isolation is separating people with confirmed or probable infections from other healthy people.
  • Lockdown is a term used by public health officials or lawyers to refer to anything from mandatory geographic quarantine to non-mandatory recommendations to shelter in place, to anything in between.
  • Cordon sanitaire is the restriction of movement in and out of a region or city.
  • Shelter in place is an order requesting people to stay at home, except for trips to the grocery store, pharmacies, and other essential errands.
Medical equipment
  • A ventilator is a machine that assists a patient in breathing when they have trouble breathing on their own.
  • PPE (Personal protective equipment), such as masks, gloves, face shields, and other gear that keeps health care workers from catching an infection.
  • A respirator is a face mask that seals around the mouth and filters out particles from the air before they are breathed in.
  • Surgical mask or face mask are loose-fitting masks that don't filter out all the particles but stop a wearer from spreading droplets of contagion when they sneeze or cough.

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Spreading and deactivation

The new virus spreads most commonly through invisible respiratory droplets sent into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets that can be inhaled by nearby people or land on surf...

Sticking in the air /on surfaces
  • The new virus is thought to persist in the air for up to 3 hours and for 2 to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces.
  • The new virus has been detected in feces, suggesting the virus could be spread by people who don’t properly wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • There is no indication that it spreads through drinking water, swimming pools, or hot tubs.
Bleach and the outdoors
  • The disinfectant most commonly used outdoors is a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite (household bleach). But it’s unclear whether bleach destroys viruses outside, and if it does kill them on surfaces it's unclear whether it would kill viruses in the air.
  • UV light seems to destroy the new virus as well. Bleach itself breaks down under ultraviolet (UV) light.
The new virus

They are a group of viruses that cause respiratory infections, including the common cold.
They can infect certain animals and spread from one animal to another. They can reach t...

The symptoms

Common symptoms: coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. Non-respiratory symptoms (feeling nauseous, vomiting having diarrhea) were also reported.
The virus is more violent with the elderly, the very young and with individuals that have a weak immune system. The majority of those infected however recover after a few days.

Spreading the virus

Coughs or sneezes from an infected person are the most likely to spread the virus. So it's essential to follow basic hygiene rules:

  • Wash your hand often during the day.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your inner elbow or a napkin.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands.
  • Stay inside if you have any of the symptoms and avoid interacting with people that show signs of the infection as well.

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