[UPDATED JUNE 25] A New Understanding of Covid – How it Really Spreads & What You Need to Know

As we understand more and more about how SARS-CoV-2, or covid-19, spreads, we now know some things we didn’t before, including how best to slow the spread. Soon, we’ll be re-opening countries for business, so we think it’s important to revisit coronavirus prevention with what we know now.

The other reason we’re publishing this article is because there are so many people still not wearing masks in public, and we think it might be because they don’t know the real dangers of covid.

Here, we’ll share with you the following in this order:

  • The latest we’ve learned about how the virus spreads
  • How it mutates and what that means
  • What you should be doing right now to prevent the spread and keep yourself from contracting the disease

How Covid-19 Really Spreads

Until recently, it has been widely assumed that the disease spreads through droplets from the sneeze or cough of an infected person. And this is true. It’s just not the whole truth.

Recent studies have shown us that, “a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.”

What this Means is…

The disease can spread through people who show no signs of being sick. In other words, it could be anyone anywhere. You don’t know who has it.

This is why it’s so stressed that we wear face masks and gloves. (More on face masks later.)

So, those who go out to the store, thinking “I’m too strong, I’m not gonna get it!” and don’t put on a mask, are really just putting others at risk.

The virus can be detectible on surfaces and in the air for a period of time. According to New England Journal of Medicine, that’s up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel surfaces, and up to 24 hours on cardboard.

While being detectible doesn’t necessarily mean it’s enough to infect you, it still can, and is therefor reason enough to wash your hands after handling things like packages and fast food containers, and really anything that’s been handled by others.

Another study in the same journal showed the virus surviving in the air for up to thirty minutes. But the particles quickly disperse, which means you would need to be fairly close to the person to really be at risk.

Is the Coronavirus Mutating?

You might have heard by now that SARS-CoV-2, or the coronavirus, is mutating. Nothing to get too worried about now. This is part of a virus’s natural cycle.

Its genetic instructions tell it how to replicate itself, so when the virus enters the body, it knows how to make copies of itself and spread. But as it does so, it can make mistakes in their genomes.

When it mutates, it carries over these small changes to the copies. This is how researches are tracking the virus’s path through people – by tracking these changes.

Image Source: Bedford Lab

So far, they say, the coronavirus is relatively stable, acquiring about two mutations per month, which is a third to half the rate of the flu.

Further, the mutations in SARS-CoV-2, are rare, due to them proofreading their own genomes, and generally not accepting anything out of the norm. This gives the genomes the ability to remain in tact, making the mutations a rarity.

For now, researchers are keeping an eye out for any changes in the virus’s behavior in humans. So, right now, the long term plan is to track the virus and see how it spreads, especially once we open up schools and businesses.

For more thorough understand of mutation, see this article by NPR.

With more and more breakouts happening, and the case and death numbers still rising, we each need to do our part and slow the spread.

How We Can Slow the Spread Even After We Open up the Economy

1. Cloth Face Masks

[UPDATED] Cloth face masks are okay if you have nothing else, but they’re not the safest. Learn what to look for in a mask.

For the reasons explained above, it is essential to wear a face mask and gloves whenever you are in public. We’ve been wearing dish gloves. This is in addition to the social distancing we’ve been practicing – keeping a distance of at least six feet from others.

Imagine how many people walk by you, who might be high-risk, those who have heart or lung diseases, or who are elderly. What if you’re carrying? Or if someone else is, and you’re not wearing a mask.

Your mask doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t even have to buy one.

The CDC is recommending cloth face coverings to slow the spread. The reason for this is because the surgical masks need to be preserved for health care workers, as they are in short supply.

You can still get them relatively inexpensively on Amazon.

If you’re having trouble getting your hands on a cloth mask, don’t worry. You can make one yourself, and you already have the material at home.

[UPDATED] Cloth face masks are okay if you have nothing else, but they’re not the safest. If you’re looking for more protection, see the R-95 Reusable Face Mask

Learn How to Make Your Own Face Mask:

2. Keep Surfaces Disinfected

As we saw above, particles can remain on surfaces for some time. It is possible to contract the disease by touching a contaminated surface, such as a faucet or light switch, and then touching your face.

For this reason, the CDC suggests regularly disinfecting commonly touched surfaces around the house. This includes items like:

  • Most commonly touched items like light switches, faucets, doorknobs, and countertops.
  • Your cell phone
  • Ipads, laptops, other devices

*Note from medical.mit.edu: “Do not dry surfaces after wiping them down. Surfaces you are disinfecting need to stay wet for the amount of time listed on the label. The contact time with the disinfectant is what actually kills the germs.”

3. Continue Social Distancing

Keep a six-foot distance between you and others. Again, you don’t know who’s carrying the virus.

4. Take Care of Your Hygiene

Taking care of yourself, not only protects you, but, by not contracting the disease, you’re also protecting others. What this means is:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Don’t touch your face, especially if you’re in public and touching things like shopping carts and door handles. (Hopefully, you’re wearing gloves)
  • Cover coughs and sneezes in the crook of your elbow

A Fun Reminder from Peter Hollens…

What to do if You Get Sick

  • Stay home – except to get medical care. But call first. Your doctor or local facility want you to call first
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take care of your health – Eat healthy and stay away from sugar, which weakens your immune system
  • Learn about and drink homemade bone broth regularly

What About Our Pets?

At this time there is no evidence to suggest that pets can pass the virus to humans. Pets can get their own coronavirus, and can spread other diseases to people, however these are not related to covid-19.

It’s best to practice good hygiene with your pets.

Want more details? Read’s CDC’s FAQ about Covid

Read the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines

Read More:

*Content sources: NPR, bedford lab, University of Cambridge, MITMedical, CDC

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