Coronavirus: Distinguishing Fears from Facts

Last updated: March 17, 2020

Skip to articles and resources about coronavirus and COVID-19.

On February 26, we hosted Civic Lab dedicated to a topic that’s all over the news: the coronavirus--or, more specifically, COVID-19. Here are some facts we discussed:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans.

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This disease outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. 

For most people in most locations, the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low. While risk of contracting COVID-19 is low for now, it is important to be aware of preparedness efforts in your area. The World Health Organization (WHO) posts daily situation reports about the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are typically fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While these symptoms are similar to many seasonal illnesses, including the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that you should seek medical advice if you show symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or have recently traveled to an area with community spread of COVID-19

Preventing COVID-19 is similar to preventing colds or the flu. Preventive steps you can take (pulled from the CDC): 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If soap is unavailable, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Do not touch your mouth, eyes, or nose with unwashed hands.
  • Cover any cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue away, or use the inside of your elbow. 
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, laptops, phones, and keys.

People can acquire COVID-19 from others who have the virus or by touching infected objects or surfaces. The disease can spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. Avoid touching publicly used objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.

Additional Medical Information

Organizations to follow for more information:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Information
World Health Organization Coronavirus FAQ
Illinois Department of Public Health
Village of Skokie COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 FAQ on Skokie Public Library's Instagram Page
Staff answered frequently asked questions and provided resources for how to stay up-to-date on new information.

Skokie Public Library: What You Should Do During Disease Outbreaks
These tips are compiled from expert recommendations shared with reporters.

Hesperian Health Guides: COVID-19 FAQ
Trustworthy and uncensored information about COVID-19 available in multiple languages.

Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to "flatten the curve" by The Washington Post
An article about how COVID-19 spreads, including helpful animated graphics to show how actions impact the spread.

Social Stigma with COVID-19 (PDF)
A guide to preventing and addressing social stigma.

COVID-19 FAQ from NorthShore University Health System
The Skokie-area health care provider provides factual information about the virus.

Read more medical information and articles about the coronavirus
View the handout we used during the Civic Lab on COVID-19, with links to more resources and facts.

CBC News: Get the Facts on Coronavirus