What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a disease caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. It can be very contagious and spreads quickly. Over one million people have died from COVID-19 in the United States.
COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that can feel much like a cold, the flu, or pneumonia. COVID-19 may attack more than your lungs and respiratory system. Other parts of your body may also be affected by the disease. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people become severely ill.
Some people including those with minor or no symptoms will develop Post-COVID Conditions – also called “Long COVID.”
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. Other people can breathe in these droplets and particles, or these droplets and particles can land on their eyes, nose, or mouth. In some circumstances, these droplets may contaminate surfaces they touch.
Anyone infected with COVID-19 can spread it, even if they do NOT have symptoms.
Who is at risk of severe illness from COVID-19?
Some people are more likely than others to get very sick if they get COVID-19. This includes people who are older, are immunocompromised, have certain disabilities, or have underlying health conditions. Understanding your COVID-19 risk and the risks that might affect others can help you make decisions to protect yourself and others.
What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19
- Determine if you should stay home.
- Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms
- Get tested at least 5 full days after your exposure to COVID-19, even if you don’t develop symptoms.
- Wear a high quality mask for 10 full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.
What to do if you have COVID-19
Effective treatments are now widely available.
- Contact your healthcare provider, health department, or Community Health Center to learn about treatment options. Don’t delay! Treatment must be started soon after you first develop symptoms to be effective.
- If you don’t have timely access to a healthcare provider, check if a Test to Treat location is in your community. You can get tested, receive a prescription from a healthcare provider (either onsite or by telehealth), and have it filled all at one location.
- Isolate until it’s safe to be around others. CDC recommends that you isolate for at least 10 and up to 20 days. Check with your healthcare provider to learn when you can be around others.
- Monitor your symptoms. Call your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. If you notice emergency warning signs, call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility.
COVID-19 Prevention Actions
In addition to basic health and hygiene practices, like handwashing, CDC recommends the following prevention actions: