Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory virus that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new type of the same virus that causes the common cold. It was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This can be by getting the microscopic virus into your nose/mouth/eyes when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes in close proximity to you OR by the virus being left on surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons, and countertops and then transmitted to your nose/mouth/eyes when you touch the surface and then your face.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Coronavirus (or COVID-19) is a virus that causes respiratory illness in people and is extremely contagious. Symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Congestion or runny nose
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- New loss of taste or smell
- Repeated shaking with chills
The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.
When to seek medical attention?
If you have any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
How can I protect myself?
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. While public health authorities are working to produce a vaccine, as of April 2020, there is no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019.
The best way to avoid exposure is to follow good public health hygiene practices that should be done every day regardless of the existence of this new disease. Things like:
- Avoid touching your face.
- Wash your hand vigorously with soap and water multiple times a day (use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available).
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean surfaces in your home/office.
- Practice social distancing. Avoid common practices like handshaking.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
- The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
- Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
- Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
What should I do if I am sick?
In addition to continuing to do all of the above:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Consult your physician or an urgent care. Call ahead and describe your symptoms. Use the hospital emergency room and ambulances only for true emergencies.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If no tissue is available, contain your cough or sneeze in the bend of your elbow.
- Wear a facemask if you need to go out in public (e.g. travel to the physician).
What to do after being tested?
After being tested for COVID-19, it may take anywhere from one to seven days for your healthcare provider to provide you with your results. During this time where testing volume is high, there may be a longer delay.
While you wait for results, you should do the following:
- Self-isolate at home.
- If you live with others, self-isolate in a single room and bathroom if possible.
- Everyone else in your home should continue to self-quarantine.
- Make a list of contacts you have had from two days before you became sick until when you began isolating. Use this Close Contact Checklist.
- Always wear a mask when entering general living spaces and interact with others in your home as little as possible.
- If your condition gets worse, notify your healthcare provider.
What to do if you test positive?
Notify all people you recently came in contact with and let them know to quarantine at home for 14 days. Family members included.
Self-isolate at home until both conditions are met:
- It has been at least seven days since your symptoms first appeared AND
- It has been at least three days since you have not had a fever (without using fever medications) and your respiratory symptoms are improving (no more cough or shortness of breath).
What to do if you test negative?
It you had a known exposure to a confirmed case, continue to quarantine for 14 days from your exposure date.
If you had no know exposure to a confirmed case and are not showing any symptoms, you may stop your quarantine.
If you had no known exposure to a confirmed case and are showing symptoms, you may have another respiratory illness and should continue to stay home.