In the President’s recent address, and in the news in general, we were introduced to a bunch of new words related to COVID-19. It’s basically like learning a new language. We used to think a lot of these words were made up to tell those horrifying zombie stories, but turns out words like epidemic, self-monitoring, quarantine, and social distancing are real.
We know exactly how good it feels when you understand the important things. This is why we go to such lengths to ensure that all of our insurance matters are written in plain English and with clear examples. We don’t want anyone misunderstanding their coverage and getting in trouble thinking they covered their TV with buildings insurance, which is actually for the structure of your home (and not what’s inside). So we thought if everyone had a good understanding of some of the terms being used in connection with COVID-19, you could make all the decisions about how to protect yourself and your loved ones in a way that makes sense for your unique circumstances.
An outbreak is a sudden increase in the incidence of a disease, usually confined to a group of people or area. According to the news reports, the COVID-19 outbreak started in Wuhan, China.
If there are enough outbreaks in places beyond the original location or beyond the original group of people who got sick, it is classified as an epidemic. Just a few weeks ago, COVID-19 was a baby epidemic.
And then we have a pandemic, which is basically an epidemic that has gone international. We are currently in a pandemic situation.
Social distancing is a broad term… But it generally means not shaking hands, avoiding crowds, standing a meter or so away from other people, and staying at home if you’re feeling sick. It’s an important way to slow the spread of a disease, and it’s more or less what the President told us in his Presidential Address.
This is the time between the onset of infection and the appearance of obvious signs of the disease. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), COVID-19 has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days.
Self-monitoring involves checking your temperature regularly and looking out for other signs of the virus, such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If you monitor yourself, you should also limit your interactions with others.
Want to know when to monitor yourself? An example is if you were at a large conference or farmers market and someone else there later tested positive for COVID-19. Even if your probs have not been in contact with this person, you should still monitor yourself closely. If symptoms do occur, you should self-isolate and call your doctor, local hospital or public health department to find out what to do.
If you are self-isolating it is because you have been exposed to the virus and have chosen to voluntarily stay at home for 14 days.
If you are in quarantine, the measures are more severe than self-isolation. Basically, this is when you’ve been exposed to someone with the virus and are forced to stay put (except in emergencies). They cannot have face-to-face interactions and must maintain a distance of about one meter between themselves and other people. It’s usually for a 14-day period, but you should check with your doctor, local hospital, or health department.
We have a recent example to better explain this… Remember those cruise ships where passengers contracted COVID-19? Well, the passengers who didn’t get sick on the ship itself had to stay at military bases for 14 days to check if they developed the disease. They have been quarantined.
Right, so many people get confused between quarantine and isolation. Let’s get that straight for you because while quarantine is used to separate healthy people who have been exposed to the virus to see if they develop symptoms, isolation is used to separate sick people where they have was diagnosed with COVID-19. Isolation is when you stay in place, are closely monitored, and have no face-to-face interactions so you don’t infect anyone.
Ultimately, we want you to stay safe and healthy, and we hope that understanding these terms will help you make confident decisions as you navigate the coming months as our country and world cope with this virus. If you’re scared, talk to someone. There’s no point in panicking because, as we’ve seen…it only leads to panicked people buying tons of toilet paper and other essentials, and that’s not the most helpful thing we can do as a nation.
If you suspect you or someone in your family has the virus, call your doctor, local hospital, or public health department to find out what to do.