Since the first cases were reported in Hubei Province in China, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread worldwide.

The causative virus, SARS-CoV-2, is a new betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, the pathogens that cause that produce MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), respectively. It is also different from existing coronaviruses that lead to seasonal infection in the United States.

Each day, we are learning more about this virus and how it affects the lung. The respiratory illness seen in COVID-19 can range from mild to severe, some have died from infection. Symptoms overlap with influenza, and patients typically experience fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Curiously, children appear to have milder disease than adults.

There are no specific treatments for COVID-19, so prevention is key. The SARS-CoV-2 is spread person-to-person, and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Contact with SARS-CoV-2 increases the risk for severe airway infections in individuals with pre-existing diseases, but little is known about this infection in people with PCD. Indeed, it is unclear at this point how those with PCD will fare with COVID-19.

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made the following recommendations, which should be followed by people with PCD and their families:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20-seconds with soap and water. Hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol can also be used. In particular, you should wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose, after you use the restroom, before eating or preparing food, as well as before and after providing care for another person who needs assistance, such as a child.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then discard the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. 
  • The virus may survive on surfaces for a few hours or days, so frequently clean and disinfect touched items and surfaces with regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and crowded places, such as movies, concerts, air and cruise travel.
  • Avoid travel to areas affected heavily with the virus according to Centers for Disease Control recommendations. 
  • If you have visited China or another highly affected areas, you should stay home and self-quarantine for at least two weeks. 
  • There are many questions regarding school attendance, and some cities and states have closed schools in an effort to prevent spread. It is important to remember that staying home from school is only beneficial if the entire family is avoiding contact with larger numbers of people, which may be challenging for some.
  • Because the situation is fluid, stay informed and rely on evidence-based sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, or local public health departments.

A growing number of state and local public health laboratories in 50 states and the District of Columbia now have diagnostic tests and are offering testing. If you are infected, the COVID-19 is treated based upon symptoms and the severity of illness. 

Many people will recover at home, but those with more severe illness may need to receive care in the hospital. 

Finally, if you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention. Some doctors’ offices or emergency departments advise that you call before you arrive, if possible, so they can be prepared for your arrival and avoid viral spread to others.


Xu Y, et al. Nat Med (2020). s41591-020-0817.