Coronavirus General Overview

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Concern over the coronavirus (also called coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19) is top of mind for everyone. The following includes:

  • Coronavirus Overview
  • Advice for People who have been exposed, but Have NO Symptoms
  • Advice for People who have been exposed and Have Symptoms

Coronavirus Overview

Symptoms

People can have symptoms 2 to 14 days after being exposed. Symptoms can be mild to very serious and life-threatening. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

Cause and Background

  • A new coronavirus, named COVID-19, causes this infection. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are common in animals like camels, cats and bats. They are not as common in people.
  • The first cases occurred in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late 2019. The virus has spread to many people living in China. Cases in other countries have occurred in people who recently traveled from China.

How Is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spread?

  • Experts are still trying to figure out the exact ways this virus spreads.
  • The virus may have first spread from animals to humans. It is now known to spread from person to person.
  • Spread from one person to another can occur when there is close contact (within about 6 feet).
  • Experts believe the main way it is spread is when an infected person sneezes or coughs. This sends droplets (that contain the virus) into the air. People close-by can become infected if the droplets land in their mouth or nose or are breathed into their lungs.
  • It is not yet known if the virus can spread by touching a surface that has the virus on it.
  • The virus germs are on used tissues and handkerchiefs. Germs are also on people’s hands after coughing and sneezing.

What Does Exposure to Coronavirus Mean?

Exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) includes the following:

  • Close contact with a person with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) in the past 14 days.
    • Close contact means a person lives with or has been nearby (within 6 feet) of a person with known or suspected coronavirus.
    • Examples of close contact are kissing, hugging, and sharing food or drinks. Other examples are having close conversations, sharing same car, and sitting next to an infected person on an airplane.
    • Healthcare workers may have close contact when examining and caring for people who are sick with this virus.
  • Household members and others who live with a confirmed or possible case.
  • Live in China (or other outbreak area).
  • Traveled to China (or other outbreak area) in the past 14 days.

How to Prevent Getting Coronavirus

There is no vaccine to prevent coronavirus. Here are things you can do protect yourself from coronavirus and other viral infections like the flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging or shaking hands with others who are sick.
  • Do not share food or drink.
  • Do not share eating utensils with others.

Travel and Affected Areas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding travel to areas where there is a coronavirus outbreak (People’s Republic of China). To see the latest recommendations, go to: Coronavirus CDC Information for Travel.

Where Can I Find More Information?

Here are two internet resources that provide the latest up-to-date information on coronavirus:

Coronavirus Exposure AND You Have NO Symptoms

Stay Home and Contact Your Doctor or Public Health Department

If you have been exposed to coronavirus in the past 14 days AND have NO symptoms:

  • Call your doctor or public health department.
  • Stay at home. Avoid being out in public until you get more instructions from your doctor or the public health department.
  • Your doctor and health department may need to monitor you closely for symptoms. They may need to do this until 14 days have passed since you were exposed.

Protect Others

  • Do not allow others to visit you at home.
  • Stay at home. Do not go out in public places (such as to church, work, grocery store).
  • Avoid close contact with household members.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water often.
  • Do not shake hands, hug or kiss, or sleep with others.

Coronavirus Exposure AND You Are Having Symptoms

Contact Your Doctor or Health Department and Protect Others

If you were exposed (had close contact) in the past 14 days and now have symptoms (fever, cough, flu-symptoms):

  • Call your doctor or public health department within the next 24 hours. They will help direct you to where and when you should be seen.
  • Do not allow others to visit you at home.
  • Stay at home. Do not go out in public places (such as to church, work, grocery store).
  • Avoid close contact with household members.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a cloth or tissues. Wash your hands well with soap and water often.
  • Do not shake hands, hug or kiss, or sleep with others.

Before You Leave, Call Ahead

  • If you have a doctor, it is important that you call the office. Tell the staff that you have been exposed to coronavirus and are now having symptoms.
  • If you do not have a doctor, you can call your local health department.
  • If you plan to go to an urgent care center or emergency department, you still must call ahead.
  • You may be given specific instructions on where to go and what to do when you get there.
  • This will allow the health care workers to make plans to stop the spread of the virus to others.

Arriving at Health Care Facility

  • Tell the first healthcare worker you see that you have been exposed to coronavirus and are having symptoms.
  • Ask for a mask right away. Make sure the mask is covering BOTH your nose and mouth.

Seek Medical Care Right Away If:

  • You start to have trouble breathing
  • You feel very dizzy, weak or confused

Call or Contact Your Doctor, If:

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • You think you need to be seen
  • You become worse