A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with the following symptoms or combinations of symptoms should be in communication with their healthcare provider before leaving their homes or entering critical infrastructure facilities:
Mild to Moderate Symptoms Related to or Other Respiratory Illness Such as:
- Sore Throat
- Runny Nose
- Not Feeling Well
Gastro-Intestinal symptoms such as:
- Soft Stool
- Stomach Cramps
- New loss of smell and/or taste
For more detailed information about COVID-19, see the FAQ.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How easily the virus spreads
How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Know Your Risk
Currently, those at greatest risk of infection are persons who have had prolonged, unprotected close contact with a patient with symptomatic, confirmed COVID-19 and those who live in or have recently been to areas with sustained transmission.
The available data are currently insufficient to identify risk factors for severe clinical outcomes. From the limited data that are available for COVID-19 infected patients, and for data from related coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, it is possible that older adults, and persons who have underlying chronic medical conditions, such as immunocompromising conditions, may be at risk for more severe outcomes.
Early information shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
- Older adults (65+)
- Individuals with compromised immune systems
- Individuals who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or health condition, it is important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease, including:
- Isolate at home and practice social distancing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay away from large gatherings and crowds.
- Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social, or commercial networks.
- Wearing cloth face coverings is recommended in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Face coverings may act as additional protection, but are not a substitute for physical distancing, which is the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.