The following questions and answers were prepared by the Iowa Department of Public Health:
Q: What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus?
A: 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Q: How does the virus spread?
A: Many of the initial patients in the outbreak had a link to a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, the virus is now being spread person-to-person in countries throughout the world. Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet), mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. 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. Recent studies suggest the virus can remain in the air for a time after someone has coughed or sneezed.
Q: Is COVID-19 the same as other coronaviruses?
A: It is important to understand that there are seven different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of the seven coronaviruses are very common, cause milder symptoms (similar to the common cold) and most people will be infected with at least one of these in their lifetime. The other three of the seven coronaviruses are rare and can cause more severe illness; these include the COVID-19.
Q: Is there a risk for COVID-19 from products or packages shipped from China?
A: People receiving imported goods from China are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters or packages.
Q: What is the risk of the COVID-19 to Iowans? Are certain groups of people more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than others?
A: The risk for COVID-19 is not associated with race or country of origin. The State of Iowa has announced there is community spread of the virus in Iowa. Large gatherings are not recommended.
Q: Who should I call if I have questions?
A: Please contact IDPH’s Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology (CADE) at (800) 362-2736 or the Polk County Public Health Communicable Disease team at (515) 286-3890.