What is Coronavirus COVID-19?
- Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
- Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold.
- You can learn more about COVID-19 at the CDC website.
Has anyone in the United States been infected?
How does the virus spread?
- COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu spreads. Can someone who has COVID-19 spread the illness to others? COVID-19 spreads similar to flu; therefore, if you are in close contact to someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 for an extended period of time, you are at an increased risk of getting sick.
- For example, closer than 6 feet to a sick individual for more than 10 minutes.
What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?
Symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Who is at risk for having severe disease related to COVID-19?
- Most people who contract COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms; however, similar to flu, individuals who have the highest risk for severe illness are adults over 65 and those with chronic conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes.
What is the treatment for COVID-19?
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
Am I at risk for COVID-19 infection?
All 50 states have reported cases, including imported cases from travelers, cases among close contacts of a known case, or those that are community-acquired (where the source of infection is unknown).
Since this a new virus with no vaccine, EVERYONE is at risk for being infected with COVID-19. Adults over 65 and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
It’s estimated nearly 1 in 5 people are "asymptomatic transmitters" of COVID-19. That means you could be infected with COVID-19 before showing any symptoms and infecting others without even knowing it. Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, everyone must do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Should everyone be tested for COVID-19?
- Limited testing is currently available for COVID-19 and is being prioritized for individuals who have been identified as high-risk for COVID-19 exposure and are showing symptoms of illness. Commercial testing is coming online and more options will soon be available for public access to testing.
- During this time with limited testing, those experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and achiness should stay home, drink fluids, rest, and avoid others when experiencing symptoms. The vast majority of people do very well recovering at home. Getting a COVID-19 test does not change the treatment or the outcome.
- People at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild.
- If your symptoms worsen, especially if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
What if I am experiencing flu-like symptoms and am worried I might have COVID-19?
If you recently returned from travel to an area with known spread of COVID-19, are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, or think you were exposed to COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should contact a healthcare provider.
Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms and any recent travel. This will help them prepare for your arrival so that they can take steps to reduce symptom exposure to themselves and other patients.
Cover your nose and mouth with a mask BEFORE you enter the healthcare facility for medical evaluation.
The healthcare provider will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.
When experiencing symptoms, you should:
- Avoid contact with others while sick.
- Avoid travel
- Stay home from work or other activities
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.