What is COVID-19? COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people can become severely ill. Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Older people and those who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and effective.
What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu? Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.
While more is learned every day about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, there is still a lot that is unknown .
What are the symptoms of COVID-19? People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
• 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
*This list does not include all possible symptoms.
What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19? If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.
• Stay at home (except to get medical care).
• Separate yourself from others.
• Monitor your symptoms.
• Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when around others.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes.
• Wash your hands often.
• Clean high-touch surfaces every day.
• Avoid sharing personal household items.
How does the virus spread? COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.
COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:
• Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
• Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
• Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.
How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19
• Get vaccinated
• Wear a mask
• Stay 6ft away from others
• Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
• Wash your hands often
• Cover coughs and sneezes
• Clean and disinfect
• Monitor your health daily
When should I seek medical attention for COVID-19?
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• New confusion
• Inability to wake or stay awake
• Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.