Story by: Sara Thompson on April 1, 2020
New reports suggest that COVID-19 can be spread when a person has no symptoms or when symptoms are very mild. The virus also has a long incubation period, and symptoms don’t show up for an average of five days after infection. Combine this with the fact that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for a long time — anywhere from hours to days, depending on the material and environment — and you can see why it’s difficult to slow the spread.
Respiratory viruses, like the one that causes COVID-19, get passed along when you breathe, sneeze, cough or speak — tiny droplets are released into the area around you. When others come into contact with the droplets, they can become infected when the virus enters through their nose, mouth or eyes. As more people unknowingly carry the virus, they increase the chances of making more people sick. This “symptomless transmission” is part of why the virus has been able to grow into a global pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily through “community spread” in some affected geographic areas of the United States.
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