Coronasmarts: What we know right now about COVID-19

In his testimony before the U.S. Senate, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned of bleak results from easing COVID-19-related restrictions. The good news is, according to the New York Times, Indiana’s reopening plan is relying on science. So what do we know about the virus at this point? And what does it all mean about how we need to proceed?

Here are a few of the facts that remain most important to know right now, along with some of the newer findings that have emerged from continuing research into the virus:

  • The virus lives in the air for up to three hours and on plastics as long as three days. Cardboard? 24 hours. So let that borrowed jigsaw puzzle sit for a day before digging in.
  • Symptoms typically appear within two weeks of exposure and include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and loss of taste and smell.
  • Eight vaccine candidates are in development and one is in phase 1 of clinical trials. Spring 2021 would be earliest any of these the would be available, if all goes well.
  • You can (and should) safely donate blood, even now.
  • Plasma transfusions that include antibodies from recovered patients seem to help new patients recover faster.
  • Go ahead and swim (alone). The virus seems not to be transmitted through water. And when you’re lounging post-swim, don’t worry about mosquitos. Those suckers have little to recommend them, but at least they don’t spread COVID-19.
  • Practicing safe sex always makes sense—but now it’s even more important than ever. The virus lives in sperm even after the patient has recovered. So if you and your partner are finding all this free time means sexy time, condoms are crucial.
  • Wearing a mask doesn’t keep the virus out so much as it keeps you from spreading it if you have it. (Kinda like when you pee your pants. No, really.)
  • Drink coffee, not bleach—and be super-careful with all the disinfectants that are part of our lives now. Poisoning deaths have risen because of misuse of cleaning supplies.
  • No one expects you to write an opera while you’re sheltering in place. Staying sane is challenge enough.