Let’s Talk About the Novel Coronavirus

COVID-19 may be the defining (and scariest) global crisis of our time. Your best defense is knowledge and preparedness. Minus any fake news.

    Our Pro PanelCOVID-19

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in infectious disease to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Amesh A. Adalja, M.D.

    Amesh A. Adalja, M.D.Internist specializing in infectious diseases and critical care

    University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Jeanne D. Breen, M.D.

    Jeanne D. Breen, M.D.Infectious disease specialist, Assistant Clinical Professor, Laboratory Medicine

    Yale School of Medicine
    New Haven, CT
    John Swartzberg, M.D.

    John Swartzberg, M.D.Clinical Professor, Emeritus

    UC Berkeley - UCSF Joint Medical Program, Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology Division, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
    Berkeley, CA
    Terms describing the coronavirus include: coronavirus, COVID-19, 2019-nCoV, and SARS-CoV-2
    Nikki Cagle
    Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, fatigue, joint pain, sputum production, and headaches
    Nikki Cagle

    Frequently Asked QuestionsCOVID-19

    Can coronavirus be carried by dogs or cats?

    Yes, cats and dogs can get coronaviruses, but they can’t give you their versions. Although it's rare, there is some evidence that a dog, cat, or any pet for that matter may get COVID-19 from human contact. There was one reported case in Hong Kong of a dog infected with this new strain, and at least one case in the U.S.

    How long is coronavirus contagious?

    We don’t yet know. Clinicians found viral RNA—COVID-19's genetic material; so, like, its calling card—20 days after onset of symptoms in some COVID-19 patents, meaning those with the disease were still “shedding” the virus that many days out. And the virus was detectable until death in those who lost their lives to the illness. The longest time COVID-19 was detected in preliminary study? 37 days. According to the CDC, if you’ve had no fever for 72 hours (without needing medicine to reduce it), your symptoms have improved, and at least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared, you can leave home (even if you can’t get a follow-up test).

    Where did coronavirus come from?

    Bats. That’s the likely source of the novel, or new, strain of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It’s possible that bats had the virus and passed it to another animal (possibly an animal called the pangolin), which then passed it to humans, who then passed it to each other. It might have originated at Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market or other area markets in Hunan, China, and first appeared in December 2019.

    How can you avoid the novel coronavirus?

    Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, making sure to soap every part of your hands, regularly! Which means: after going to the bathroom, before eating, after being out in public. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you don’t have access to soap and a sink, making sure to cover your whole hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, to prevent droplets from scattering 6 feet away from you. And finally, practice good social distancing. Maintain 6 feet from yourself and anyone else. Stay home, flatten the curve.

    Erin L. Boyle

    Erin L. Boyle


    Erin L. Boyle, the senior editor at HealthCentral from 2016-2018, is a freelance medical writer and editor.