UPDATED APril 1, 2020
What is COVID-19?
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. COVID-19 was first detected in China and has now been detected in almost 70 locations internationally, including in the United States.
How it spreads: The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
- Person-to-person spread - Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Also. it is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects -The CDC believes it may be possible for a person to become infected with COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.
*Symptoms can occur 2-14 days after exposure.
- Shortness of breath
Current risk assessment:
For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. The CDC recommends at least 6 feet.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Click here for a list of products that have been pre-approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use against emerging enveloped viral pathogens and can be used during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before entering a healthcare provider’s office.
- If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a facemask unless caring for someone who is sick (and they are unable to wear a facemask).
Recommendations from the CDC:
- It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventative actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.
- If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure.
- If you are a resident in a community where person-to-person spread of COVID-19 has been detected and you develop COVID-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms.
- People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness.
For more information about COVID-19, click here.