The new coronavirus is changing how Americans go to work, what they do in their leisure time and where their children go to school.

The situation surrounding COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, is ever evolving, and so is misinformation.

Here are some essential resources and things you need to know:

How many people in the United States are sick? Johns Hopkins University's Centers for Systems Science created an , as the illness caused by the coronavirus is called. If they do, their symptoms generally will be milder, but they can spread the virus. The CDC recommends frequent hand-washing and other good hygiene habits.

Does wearing a surgical mask offer any protection? Loose-fitting surgical masks don't fully protect people from inhaling smaller airborne particles. The CDC recommends that only those people who are actively experiencing symptoms or are being monitored for the virus should wear them.

How should people protect themselves? Frequent, vigorous hand-washing under hot, soapy water — taking care to scrub between fingers, under fingernails and around cuticles — is the first step. But also practice "social distancing," explained by the CDC as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible."

Are there natural cures? If there are, they haven't been identified, but several stories about the curative powers of garlic, chlorine dioxide or related products with names such as Miracle Mineral Solution have been debunked. Garlic does have antimicrobial properties, but the World Health Organization says there's no evidence eating garlic will help with the virus. The Food and Drug Administration says it doesn't recommend ingesting drinks with chlorine dioxide because they may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and symptoms of severe dehydration.

What does it mean that the World Health Organization called the outbreak a "pandemic"? The declaration refers to the scope of the new coronavirus — not its severity — and means it has become a "worldwide spread of a new disease"?

What's the difference between isolation and quarantine? These terms are often used interchangeably but they're not. A sick person with a contagious disease is isolated from healthy people; people who were exposed to a contagious disease are quarantined to see if they become sick. Often, people who think they may have been exposed self-quarantine.


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