What is the Coronavirus and How Can I Prevent It?
Right now, the entire world is preoccupied with the coronavirus. And with over 1,000,000 infections and 60,000 deaths from the virus in the United States alone, it's easy to understand why.
Coronavirus Tracker (United States) - 5/5/2020
Cases: 1,213,871 Deaths: 69,968 Recoveries: 188,068While there is no cure, there are definitely methods of prevention. Consider this your guide to the coronavirus. We will take a deep dive into the virus to ensure you're better equipped to protect yourself and your community.
What is Coronavirus?Coronavirus is a large group of virus strains that cause everything from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The specific virus that currently has everyone concerned is SARS-CoV-2. It causes an acute respiratory illness, also known as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus, which makes it all the more concerning. Because of the intense illness it causes, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international health. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they're spread from animals to humans. SARS-CoV-2 was believed to have been transmitted from bats to humans and was first found in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Coronavirus SymptomsAs we mentioned above, the virus that's concerning us all now is COVID-19. Those with the disease may experience fevers, coughing, and shortness of breath. Of course, just because you experience these symptoms doesn't mean that you have COVID-19. You could have a cold, the flu, or a variety of other illnesses. To confirm if your symptoms are caused by SARS-CoV-2, you'll need to get a coronavirus test from the CDC or your local health department. They will test for the virus by collecting a sample from the throat, nose, or lungs, which will provide an immediate diagnosis.
Risk FactorsCommunities with current cases of COVID-19 are at a higher risk. Additionally, so is anyone who:
- Works in healthcare
- Recently traveled internationally
- Has been in close contact with a person with COVID-19
How Does the Coronavirus Spread?Coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, originate in bats, cattle, cats, and camels, and are spread from animals to humans. The CDC assumes COVID-19 originated in an animal reservoir in China, which then spread to humans via a seafood and live animal market. However, after these initial instances, the disease is assumed to have spread from person-to-person, as later cases were not exposed to animals. COVID-19 is now mostly spreading through 'community-spread' transference, meaning it's primarily unknown how these people were affected.
How to Prevent Coronavirus in Your RestaurantAs we know, viruses are not only passed from person-to-person, but they can also be passed through food. With COVID-19, restaurants and restaurant staff are at risk of unknowingly passing on the virus to customers. This extra attention on COVID-19 emphasizes the need to implement the same strategies used to prevent any foodborne pathogens.
Hand WashingHand washing is the most effective tactic you can use to prevent the spread of viruses and diseases. With COVID-19 active in the United States, there is no excuse not to follow hand washing best practices. Ensure that you're washing your hands before you handle food, after touching raw meat, and after touching other people. Use warm water, soap, and agitate your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Social DistancingSocial distancing is designed to reduce the spread of a virus, like the Coronavirus. In this case, the CDC defines social distancing as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible." In a restaurant setting, you can practice social distancing in several ways:
- Remove tables and seating so that there is at least 6 feet of space between customers
- Shut down your dining room and move to pick up, curbside, and delivery orders only
- Send home any workers that are displaying symptoms of being sick
- Limit your hours of operation and reduce the number of staff members onsite
Cooking TemperatureCooking meat, seafood, and poultry to safe internal temperatures are always important. Still, with SARS-CoV-2 spreading by way of animals, it's never been more imperative. Follow these internal cooking temperature guidelines:
- Ground Beef: 160℉
- Ground Poultry: 165℉
- Beef, Pork, and Lamb: 145℉
- Poultry: 164℉