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What to Read to Understand Coronavirus

The novel coronavirus has dominated headlines and conversations since it was first detected on New Year’s Eve of last year. To date, the illness continues to spread across the world as communities contend with the best ways to prepare and react without descending into panic. If you’re looking to get informed but don’t know where to start, ELLE.com has compiled a reading guide full of expert answers. Read on if you have questions about…

The Virus

The CDC has helpful explainers on the virus’ symptoms and what to do if you think you’re sick. If you’re pregnant and have more specific questions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an FAQ for you. (The World Health Organization also has a detailed FAQ if you have additional questions.)

You might also have heard some people talk about the R0 of the coronavirus, a number used to determine whether an outbreak will spread. If you’re curious about what R0 means—and what it doesn’t mean—The Atlantic has a detailed explainer.

Traveling

If you’re wondering where it’s safe to travel, the CDC keeps an updated list of travel health notices, including which countries are marked level 3 and should be avoided for any nonessential travel. At the moment, the level 3 countries are China, South Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. The CDC also recommends people avoid nonessential travel to these European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. Keep up to date with the list here.

If you’re curious about whether you should cancel your trip, avoid cruises, or avoid layovers in level 3 countries, the CDC put together an FAQ with its recommendations.

How to Prepare

The CDC has guidelines on how to prevent spreading disease while we wait for a potential vaccine. The World Health Organization also put together a TikTok with information on how to protect yourself from the virus. There’s also CDC information on how the virus spreads.

Scientific American has an article about why it is essential—and altruistic—to prepare for the coronavirus and exactly what that preparation should look like.

If you, like me, have heard that you should stock up on non-perishables but don’t know where to begin, an editor at Bon Appétit wrote a suggested list of what to buy. Here are two other lists, if you need more ideas. (But if you are eating out, remember to support your local Chinatown restaurants. Many cities have reported that restaurants have taken a hit in the wake of “generally baseless, arguably racist” coronavirus fears.)

How to Practice Social Distancing

You might have heard that one way to help stop the virus from spreading is to practice social distancing, but it can be hard to know what exactly that means or what events you should avoid. The Atlantic asked several public health experts the questions we’re currently asking ourselves: Should I go to the gym? The grocery store? To a wedding? Read what they have to say, here.

How to Inform Children

If you’re looking for a way to explain the virus to your children, NPR created a kid-friendly comic that can help:

How to Care for Pets

As of now, there’s no evidence that proves your dog or cat can contract the novel coronavirus; Woman’s Day put together an explainer, if you’d like to learn more. Plus, be sure to stock up on any supplies you might need to care for your pets while you’re staying at home.

How to Wash Your Hands

Experts are recommending people wash their hands often for at least 20 seconds to prevent spreading illnesses. The CDC put together a thorough video explaining all you need to know about hand-washing:

Wearing a Mask

According to the World Health Organization, if you don’t have respiratory symptoms, you do not need to wear a medical mask. (More information on masks and the coronavirus here.) However, if you do end up needing to wear a mask, WHO created a TikTok to teach you how to do it properly.

How to Stay Informed

Of course, it’s essential to stay educated as this all unfolds, without slipping into an all-out panic. If you want consistent updates, outside of checking the CDC and WHO, The Washington Post has created a coronavirus newsletter for updates. The New York Times also has a guide you can sign up for.


Madison is a staff writer at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture.

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