Please note that knowledge on COVID-19 is still limited and new information is being learned every day. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website http://cdc.gov/coronavirus regularly for updates on COVID-19. Much of the information regarding COVID-19 has been gained by studying other coronaviruses like MERS and SARS. Information presented here has been taken from the CDC.gov website.
What is the source of the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.
How is the coronavirus spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can coronavirus spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects?
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Current evidence suggests that the virus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.
How easy is it for the coronavirus to spread?
How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
The coronavirus that causes “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated COVID-19) seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in communities.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness (including symptoms of acute respiratory illness, severe pneumonia with respiratory failure and septic shock) and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).
- Shortness of breath
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Note that there have also been reports of asymptomatic infection with COVID-19 (which means that someone can be infected with the virus without showing any symptoms or signs of the infection), but it is not yet known what role asymptomatic infection plays in transmission of the virus.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.
Can people who recover from COVID-19 be infected again?
The immune response to COVID-19 is not yet understood. Patients with MERS-CoV infection are unlikely to be re-infected shortly after they recover, but it is not yet known whether similar immune protection will be observed for patients with COVID-19.
Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:
- People aged 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Other high-risk conditions could include:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have heart disease with complications
- People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
- People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI≥40]) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
- People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date, data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk
What steps can my family take to reduce our risk of getting COVID-19?
Practice everyday preventive actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and remind everyone in your home to do the same. These actions are especially important for older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
Will warm weather stop the spread of COVID-19?
It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
Notice to Our Valued Real Estate Partners and their Home Buying Clients
While our professional home inspectors will continue to help our clients with their pre-purchase home inspections, we have implemented some new procedures in order to comply with the latest CDC guidelines. We have implemented these policies to protect the health of our home buying and selling clients, our real estate agents, our inspectors and the families of everyone involved. We apologize for any inconvenience that these new policies may cause, but the health and safety of everyone must take precedence over all other concerns at this time.
Until further notice, the following procedures must be followed during the home inspection process:
- The real estate agent will provide access to the property for the inspector and will wait in their vehicle for the inspector to complete the on-site portion of the home inspection.
- No one will be allowed to accompany the home inspector during the inspection process.
- The client is welcome to arrive at the end of the inspection and, observing the CDC recommended social distancing guidelines of 6 feet of space between individuals, the inspector will go over their findings at this time.
- If the home is occupied, the occupants must vacate the premises during the inspection process.
- Inspections will not be performed on occupied homes if the current occupant(s) are either confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 infection.
- The completed home inspection report will be emailed to the client and their real estate agent.
Our professional home inspectors will continue to provide the same thorough and in-depth home inspections that you’ve come to expect. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these trying times.
We wish you and your family continued health and look forward to the day when our lives return to normal.