This infection is a respiratory virus that is transmitted through the air by exhalation, cough, or sneeze from an infected person. To get the illness a health person must inhale the virus into their nose and lungs. In the air, the virus can be in three forms: Aerosolized, small water droplets, or large water droplets.
In the aerosolized form, it is a free-floating virus that is so light it can stay suspended in the air for quite some time. Fortunately, this form is rare. Both small and large water droplet forms are heavier than air and fall to the ground or surrounding surfaces within 6 feet of the infected person. Physical distancing and masks prevent the inhalation of the small and large water droplets. The aerosolized form can go through a mask, even an N95 mask. Again, this form is rare, so not to worry.
When the virus enters the airway of a healthy person a variety of immune system functions protect the epithelial cells that line the airways of the nose, mouth, trachea, and bronchial tubes. However, under the right conditions the virus can attach itself to an epithelial cell and inject its genetic material into that cell. It then hijacks the cell’s DNA to make new viruses.
Eventually, after a lot of new viruses have been made inside of that cell, the cell wall breaks down releasing more viruses into the airway. Some of those new viruses attach to more epithelial cells to make more virus and some are exhaled, coughed, or sneezed out of the newly infected person’s airway. They can now infect another person who inhales them. That is why an infected person might be able to transmit the virus before having symptoms of the illness.
After enough infected cells are damaged by the virus, an immune system response occurs, creating symptoms of fever (the virus cannot live over 101.5 F), cough (to get rid of the virus), fatigue and body aches (to keep you home so you do not spread it around), as well as other symptoms like headache, sore throat, congestion, diarrhea, etc.
It is an over reactive immune system response that causes the severe illness requiring hospitalizations. Medications like Hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Azithromycin can reduce the overreacting immune response, calming things down enough so the body can get rid of the invasion. Anti-inflammatory medications might be helpful.