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How older adults can best protect themselves from the coronavirus

Written by Diane Archer

Everywhere you turn, it seems there’s news about the coronavirus (Covid-19). It is spreading across the world, and now in the US, at a seemingly rapid clip. Never leaving your home and closing your door to all visitors is likely the best way to protect yourself from it. Because that’s an extreme solution, here’s what you should know.

It’s unclear how many Americans have the coronavirus, since testing kits have not been available to the extent necessary. But, there are a few hundred reported cases,, and the numbers are likely to increase substantially. In some ways, the coronavirus is like the flu.

The virus spreads from person to person, as well as from hard and soft surfaces–such as doorknobs, faucets, elevator buttons and clothing–to people. Some experts believe the virus can live for as long as nine days on some surfaces. That’s why it is so important to wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol and other disinfectants kill the virus easily.

That said, some experts believe the evidence shows that it can spread through the air. For this reason, more experts are recommending you wear a mask or at least a cover over your mouth and nose when you are anywhere near other people.

Because people who have no symptoms can spread the virus, you could be exposed to contagious people without realizing it. To protect yourself, keep a distance of at least feet from other people, and stay away from people who are sick. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

If you think you may have the virus, both Medicare and Medicaid pay for testing and treatment. Contact your doctor and stay away as best possible from other people. Typical symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

One challenge with containing the spread of the virus through testing and treatment is that people may have the coronavirus without knowing it, as it can take up to two weeks after getting the virus for symptoms to appear. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head, Dr. Robert Redfield, says that one in four people with the novel coronavirus never exhibit symptoms.

Keep your hands off of your face and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. It is through your eyes, nose and mouth that the virus enters your system.

As with the flu, most people recover from the coronavirus. But, a small percentage of cases are fatal. Older adults and people in poor health are at greatest risk. Unfortunately, unlike the flu, for now, there is no coronavirus vaccine.

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