Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to 34 countries so far. Although 9 people in the United States have died and many more potentially infected, it’s reasonable to expect the disease to spread more before it’s contained. That doesn’t mean we need to panic just yet (or ever), but it is smart to be prepared. Why there seems to be so much talk about coronavirus is how quickly it has spread in such a short amount of time. Not to mention yesterday's announcement from World Health Organization officials who now warn the virus could be far more dangerous than the flu, with a mortality rate of 3.4%, compared to a seasonal flu of 0.1% with a vaccine still months or years away. That is why governments round the world are scrambling to come up with plans to prevent a possible pandemic. Although some see the news stories are exaggerated, it is smart to be prepared even if nothing occurs of it locally. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through droplets. That means that when an infected person coughs or breathes, the virus may be in the droplets of saliva or other fluids that they expel into the air. But that’s actually sort of good news, because droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They fall to the ground before they can travel more than a few feet. So even if somebody is sick, if you stay three to six feet away from them, you aren’t in much danger. It also means the disease is not airborne, so you don’t have anything to worry from ventilation systems or from being in the same room after a person who is sick. You do have to be careful about touching surfaces where those droplets may have settled, which is why hand washing is so important. Practice “respiratory etiquette,” coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue (which you properly dispose of) rather than your hands. Stay home if you’re sick, and avoid close contact with people who appear to be sick. Disinfect any surface you’re concerned about. Bleach and other disinfectants that kill other coronaviruses are likely to work here. A mask will not help you very much (if at all), and you’re best off leaving masks to healthcare professionals, who need them more than you do. Above all else, refer to a trusted information source so that you are not duped into misinformation. The World Health Organization and CDC have dedicated web pages with the very latest information.