Coronavirus Disease 2019, commonly known as COVID-19, is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Although most people who have COVID-19 have mild symptoms, COVID-19 can cause severe illness and death.
How it Spreads
Similar to how flu and other respiratory illnesses spread, the virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets, including:
- Through the air by coughing, sneezing, laughing, singing, and talking;
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; and
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands.
Since viruses constantly change, new variants are expected to occur over time. Learn more about variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 from the CDC.
Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild to severe illness, appearing two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Some people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning they do not show any symptoms. If someone is experiencing trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, or difficulty staying awake, they should seek medical care immediately.
- 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
People at Increased Risk
People of any age can get COVID-19, even healthy young adults and children. Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill if they contract COVID-19, including:
If you test positive and are an older adult or someone who is at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, treatment may be available. Contact your healthcare provider right away after a positive test to determine if you are eligible, even if your symptoms are mild. You can also visit a Test to Treat location and, if eligible, receive a prescription from a provider. Don’t delay, treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective.
Protect Yourself and Others
It is important for our community to realize the potential risks of COVID-19 and how you can continue to take precautions everyday to prevent the spread. If you spend time in public settings, please practice the following healthy behaviors to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe.
- Stay up-to-date on receiving all recommended COVID-19 vaccinations (including booster doses)
- Stay home when sick, and test if symptoms of COVID-19
- Improve ventilation in buildings
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, including before, during, and after you return from your trip. If possible, bring alcohol-based hand rub to use when you do not have access to running water and soap.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, by coughing and sneezing into your forearm.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often and allow them to air dry. If possible, pack disinfecting wipes to clean and disinfect objects and surfaces if you leave your home.
If You Are Sick or Exposed
Click here for the latest quarantine and isolation guidance from the CDC.
Visit the CDC's website for updated guidance for domestic and international travel.