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?
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Primary symptoms of the virus include:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
In 80% of patients, COVID-19 causes only mild cold symptoms. The elderly, and those with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to the virus. People at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 should contact their health care provider early, even if their illness is mild.
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.
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.