Health experts answer your top coronavirus questions

ATLANTA — With six people dead from coronavirus in the United State and several states reporting new cases, it's understandable to have some concerns about the illness.

There are 2 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Georgia, but the overall risk to the general public is low. The Georgia Department of Health said you should take some precautions.

We talked to health experts to answer some of the most frequently asked questions:

What is coronavirus?

Cornaviruses are similar illnesses to the flu. There are several strains, four of which actually cause the common cold, according to Dr. Cherie Drenzek, a state epidemiologist. Coronaviruses have been spreading in humans for years, and you’ve probably had one without knowing it.

COVID-19 is a novel, or new, strain of coronavirus.

How does the virus spread?

WHO said the virus spreads person-to-person, when someone coughs or sneezes. If someone near you is sick and they cough and sneeze in something, then you touch it, you could be infected.

Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor of medical and global health at Emory University, said it appears the coronavirus can stay on a surface for several hours.

How can I protect myself from coronavirus?

We’ve seen lots of people wearing masks, but if you are healthy, wearing a mask will not really protect you. Instead, make sure you are always washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. A cool way to time it? Hum “Happy Birthday To You” from beginning to end, twice.

WHO also advises you to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if you can.

You can also used alcohol-based hand sanitizer and bleach, ammonia or disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces. Beware of price gouging or false advertising though. Amazon has pulled more than 1 million products from the shelf for offering ineffective protection.

The best way to avoid the virus though is to avoid contact with other people.

“Since it’s spread person-to-person by respiratory droplets, keeping people away from each other is the way to do it,” Drenzek said.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms are similar to a common cold. WHO says people who have tested positive have aches and pains, a runny nose, fever and a dry cough.

Some people who become infected don’t develop any symptoms and don’t need special treatment.

What do I do if I have symptoms?

Del Rio said if you feel sick with a respiratory infection, stay home. He said self-quarantine is effective, but if you notice shortness of breath, be sure to get checked out.

Del Rio said the medical community is learning more about the virus, but so far, it’s older people and those with compromised immune systems who are at the most risk for dying.

Should I panic?

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” Adams said that of the original 14 positive cases of coronavirus, all are recovering or have recovered.

Which states have reported cases of coronavirus?

As of March 2, there are over 100 reported cases in the United States with six deaths (these numbers are fluid).

Here’s a breakdown:

Arizona -- 1

California -- 18

Florida -- 2

Georgia -- 2

Illinois -- 4

Massachusetts -- 1

New York -- 1

Oregon -- 3

Rhode Island -- 2

Washington state -- 18 (including 6 deaths)

New Hampshire -- 1