As of Friday afternoon, New York City has 154 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

Many, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, are warning that the area may be fighting the virus for the next six months. While this projection is alarming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared a report from China which states that only 16% of cases are severe. 

The CDC currently believes that the virus spreads through person-to-person contact, meaning that you may fall ill if you’re within a six foot distance of someone who is infected. The virus is also spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can also be transmitted by surfaces.

Those most at risk for catching the novel coronavirus are older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. If you fall into a high-risk category, it is extremely important to take extra precautions. 

To reduce risk, practice social distancing, a fancy way of saying keep around six feet between you and other people. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when you don’t have access to a sink. The CDC also recommends to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Symptoms may develop two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Once developing these symptoms, the CDC recommends calling your medical provider. Calling, even if you have an appointment, allows your medical provider to prepare and prevent others from potential exposure. Make sure to monitor your symptoms and if they worsen, call again to update and receive information for next steps.

If you show any emergency symptoms such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips or face, seek medical attention immediately. 

Most people will only be mildly ill. The CDC states ill people should stay home except for when medical attention is needed. If you are ill, you should separate yourself from others in your household and if possible, use a separate bathroom. Sharing dishes, towels, bedding and other personal items with people in your home should be avoided. Once items are used, they should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water. 

If you must be around other people, wear a facemask. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and dispose of all tissues in a lined garbage can.

For up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website on coronavirus.