Learn about COVID-19 symptoms and get up-to-date recommendations on how to best protect you and your family.
What is COVID-19?
The newly identified coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV 2. First identified in China in December 2019, COVID-19 has infected thousands of people around the world. While this coronavirus is new, it is not the only coronavirus. Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, commonly infect people, and are associated with the common cold.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are difficult to distinguish, as they present symptoms like other coronaviruses that are similar to those of the common cold. People with confirmed cases have reportedly had mild-to-severe respiratory illness with the following symptoms:
Shortness of Breath
Symptoms may occur up to two weeks after exposure.
How do I prevent infection?
As there is no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 at this time, preventing exposure to COVID-19 is your best defense. Everyday practices to help protect you and prevent the spread of viruses include:
Wash your hands often
Wash your hands well, especially after coughing, sneezing, or having any contact with someone who’s coughing or sneezing. Use soap and running water, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, and then rinse and dry your hands thoroughly. When soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Keep your hands away from your face
Avoid rubbing your eyes or putting your hands to your mouth until you’ve washed your hands.
Observe respiratory etiquette
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, throw used tissues away immediately, and wash your hands afterwards.
Clean high-touch surfaces
Disinfect surfaces like door handles, light switches and countertops often.
Fact: Face masks will not prevent COVID-19 spread
Only patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and healthcare workers caring for them should wear masks. Further, the general public should stop buying masks as shortages could prevent healthcare professionals from acquiring them.
Fact: Younger, healthy people also need to take precautions
While most younger, healthy people are at lower risk of becoming critically ill, it’s still important for young and healthy individuals to take precautions to prevent the spread.
Fact: Routine vaccinations can help
While there is no specific vaccine for COVID-19, the CDC recommends staying up to date on your flu and pneumonia vaccines to keep you healthy.
What do I do if I feel sick?
- When to stay homeIf you begin to feel ill, even with mild symptoms, manage them as you would if you had the flu. Stay at home, in a separate room from your family if possible, and avoid public places until you recover. Rest, use fever reducers (if needed), and keep at least six feet away from other people when possible.
- When to contact your healthcare providerIf you develop a cough and/or have difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and travel history, and you’ll be advised how to best proceed.
What do I do if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19?
In the U.S., COVID-19 can only be confirmed with a laboratory test, which is becoming more available. Outside of the U.S., sometimes COVID-19 is diagnosed based on symptoms only. If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should follow your healthcare provider’s instructions very closely, avoid public places, and wear a mask if you have to be around other people. Those caring directly for you should wear masks when they are with you as well.
You will need to practice self-isolation (stay at home away from other family members) if it’s suspected that you have the infection.