Coronavirus or Covid-19: A brief overview including information for the visually and/or hearing impaired

By now, everyone has heard of the coronavirus, otherwise referred to as covid-19. Affecting nearly every country worldwide, covid-19 has now reached pandemic status. ILA cares about the health and wellbeing of everyone whether a customer or not. This blog will look at a brief overview of how covid-19 came to be, where persons with vision or hearing issues can stay on top of the latest news during this pandemic, and lastly tips, assistance, and ideas on how to keep the boredom and doldrums away. Information contained in this blog is current as of March 21, 2020.

What is Covid-19?

The short answer, from the CDC factsheet, states: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The FDA elaborates a little on this stating: A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. There are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Coronaviruses themselves are not new. According to the WHO: Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. It is believed that covid-19 originated in bats.

A different CDC article defines a pandemic as a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide. Covid-19 cases have been detected in most countries worldwide and community spread is being detected in a growing number of countries. On March 11, 2020 the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the WHO.

This is the first pandemic known to be caused by the emergence of a new coronavirus. In the past century, there have been four pandemics caused by the emergence of novel influenza viruses. As a result, most research and guidance around pandemics is specific to influenza, but the same premises can be applied to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Up to Date News Geared Towards the Visually and/or Hearing Impaired

Visually Impaired Resource: NFB-NEWSLINE is a free audio news service for anyone who is blind, low-vision, deafblind, or otherwise print-disabled that offers access to more than 500 publications, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and more. Anyone who cannot read printed publications due to vision loss, dyslexia, or a physical disability is eligible to receive NFB-NEWSLINE.  Please register by calling your state’s Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped or the National Federation of the Blind at 866-504-7300 to request an application. You may also download and mail an application or complete the online application. After your registration is processed, you will receive a message containing your activation codes and instructions.

In response to the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Federation of the Blind has decided to provide up-to-date information to all eligible subscribers of the service.

COVID-19 updates are available in the “Breaking News” category of NFB-NEWSLINE. This information is being obtained by the system searching the thirty-four publications in the Breaking News category for “coronavirus” and displaying the results. This information will also be available for those few states that are currently not sponsored for the next sixty days starting Monday, March 16.

Access the coronavirus COVID-19 information using the telephone by pressing 5 from the main menu, then press 1 for the Breaking News category, followed by pressing the 1 key which will bring you to the virus information. If you are using the NFB-NEWSLINE mobile IOS app, look for the virus information under the “All Publications” section. The content can be accessed with Braille devices such as notetakers and refreshable Braille displays.

Hearing Impaired Resources: Most televisions come equipped with a closed captioning option built in which allows for a transcription of what is being spoken to be shown at the bottom of the television screen in live time. YouTube also has the ability to do closed captioning by clicking on the small square that has “CC” in it towards the bottom right hand corner of every video.  Many news channels, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have YouTube channels.

If you prefer news updates done in American Sign Language (ASL) the Daily Moth is a good option. The Daily Moth delivers news in video using American Sign Language. The deaf host, Alex Abenchuchan, covers trending news stories and deaf topics on new shows Monday-Fridays.

Tips, Assistance, and Ideas to Stay Busy

Tips: There are five steps recommended to take in order to help keep yourself as healthy as possible.

  1. Hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. It’s also a good idea to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  2. Elbow: Cough or sneeze into your elbow to help keep any germs from spreading to those around you. Another option is to cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  3. Face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  4. Space: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. It is recommended to keep 6 feet between you and others. The common term for this is practicing social distancing.
  5. Home: Whenever possible stay home, especially if you’re sick or experiencing symptoms.

Assistance: If you need assistance finding food, paying house bills, or other essential services, use the search bar at the top of the 211 website to find your local 211 or dial 211 to speak to someone that can help.  This website can also assist in finding answers about covid-19, locating your local United Way, information on unemployment benefits, and various other resources that can be useful during the pandemic.

To learn what the Federal Government is doing in response to covid-19 by department visit the USA Coronavirus page for complete details.

Ideas to stay busy:  What’s there to do while stuck indoors? USA Today has compiled 100 suggestions to help make your time quarantined as interesting – and perhaps even as productive – as possible. Some of the many listed ideas include playing games, completing a puzzle, playing an instrument, learn a new language, meditate, read a book, finally clear out that junk drawer and the last item on the list is sleep. Some of the suggestions are more or less serious than others but should provide at least some entertainment just reading through the list.

Small kids at home? What Moms Love offers 87 energy busting indoor games and activities for kids (because cabin fever is no joke).  Not only are these games fun and entertaining but they help encourage and define gross motor skills which helps kids be better able to function in the world around them.

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