News | Published March 15, 2020

How to protect yourself and your family against coronavirus

It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the news coverage about the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as it spreads across the country. At Mount Nittany Health, we are committed to keeping you informed with facts about the virus and information on how you can protect yourself and your family.

Know the facts
There is a new type of coronavirus (COVID-19) causing an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. There have been a number of cases reported globally, including the United States. Most of the cases have been associated with travel from Wuhan, and some instances of community spread (person-to-person) have been detected in the United States.

COVID-19 symptoms may range from mild to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet)
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Through contact with contaminated surfaces

How you can protect yourself
While there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, there are steps you can take to stop the spread of the virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
    • Did you know? Singing or humming two rounds of “Happy Birthday” equals 20 seconds.
  • Practice social distancing
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

How to talk to kids about coronavirus

It’s important to start the conversation about coronavirus with your kids. Start by asking what your child already knows. Between friends, social media and non-stop news coverage, chances are they’re aware of recent events. Listen carefully and try to find out what they’ve heard. As they explain, listen for misinformation, misconceptions and underlying concerns. Gently correct inaccurate information and take time to provide accurate information in an age-appropriate manner.

The following are more detailed tips to help your child cope and understand tragic events:

  • Always be honest and give answers that are simple and age-appropriate.
  • Children often have magical thinking (believing that their actions can cause unrelated events), so you must reassure them that they are safe and they are not at fault.
  • It is difficult to protect your school-age child from the news, so always provide age-appropriate information and facts without giving too many details, especially if your child is asking questions.
  • Older children may be able to cope better than younger children but still need support. Ask open-ended questions and encourage them to talk openly about their fears and concerns.

When younger children experience a lot of stress, they are often unable to verbalize their fears and worries. Therefore, it’s important to look for signs and symptoms that may indicate they are having trouble coping. These can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Regressive behaviors such as thumb sucking, bedwetting or fear of the dark
  • Temper tantrums
  • High sensitivity to sounds
  • Aggressive behavior such as lying, bullying and engaging in disruptive behavior
  • Nervous habits, such as pulling hair, biting nails or scratching themselves

Talk with your pediatrician if your child seems to be having trouble coping.

Coronavirus preparedness at Mount Nittany Health
Mount Nittany Health is closely monitoring the situation and staying prepared, which includes following the most current guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for screening and testing of patients. We are also committed to keeping you informed about coronavirus and our preparedness. To learn more, please visit our coronavirus preparedness page at