COVID-19: What is Community Spread?

On February 26, 2020, the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) issued a notice confirming a possible instance of “community spread” of the COVID-19 virus in the United States. In the news release, the CDC confirmed an infection of COVID-19 in California. The case involved a person who had not traveled recently and who had not been exposed to a known patient with COVID-19.

At the time of the CDC’s news release, the California patient’s exposure to the coronavirus was unknown. What does that mean? It means it’s possible that it was a case of “community spread,” which was the first time on record that it happened in the United States.

“Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown. It’s also possible, however, that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected,” according to the CDC.

COVID-19 at a Glance

As of March 30, 2020, there were a total of 140,904 cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 2,405 deaths. Of those cases, 886 were travel-related, 2,351 were the result of close contact, and 137,667 cases are still under investigation. Worldwide, cases have been reported in Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, South-East Asia, and the Western Pacific.

The coronavirus predominately spreads from person-to-person. So, the best way to avoid COVID-19 is to avoid exposure. Follow these safety tips to help prevent community spread:

  • Practice social distancing by maintaining a six-foot distance from people.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a bent elbow then wash your hands immediately afterward.
  • If you feel sick, please stay home.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched daily.
  • If you’re sick, wear a facemask. You don’t need one if you’re not sick unless you’re carrying for someone who is and cannot wear a facemask. In some areas, facemasks are in short supply so they are being saved for caregivers.
  • If you experience a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, call your doctor and follow their directions. Be sure to call ahead.

To learn how to cope with the stress of the COVID-19 outbreak, visit the CDC’s website.

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