What is COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is transmitted through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Getting sick from these droplets requires proximity to an infected person, or touching a surface that might have a droplet, then touching your mouth, nose and possibly eyes. You are at low risk of contracting the virus unless you have recently traveled to an outbreak site or have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus. More information about COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
Is COVID-19 contagious?
Yes. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can significantly reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 by frequently washing your hands, wearing a mask in public and practice social distancing.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is spread mainly through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
It is also possible for someone to get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface or object, and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
How can I protect myself?
Clean your hands frequently.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Additional ways to protect yourself:
As of now, masks are not recommended to protect against COVID-19. Masks should only be worn by some health care professionals and patients being screened and receiving care for COVID-19, to protect other patients and health care workers.
How can I protect others?
These are ways that you can protect others from contracting COVID-19:
- Stay home if you’re sick.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.