Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus discovered in 2019. The virus spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Some people who are infected may not have symptoms. For people who have symptoms, illness can range from mild to severe. Adults 65 years and older and people of any age with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness. People ages 5 years and older should get COVID-19 vaccines to prevent getting and spreading the illness. Everyone ages 16 and older can get a booster shot.
- The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
- Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after someone is exposed to the virus and can include fever, chills, and cough.
- Some people who are infected may not have symptoms, which is why everyone should take everyday preventive actions.
- Anyone can have severe illness from COVID-19, especially older adults and people of any age with underlying conditions.
- Learn more about variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Illustration of the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion when viewed electron microscopically.
Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” is one of the best ways to avoid being exposed to COVID-19 and slowing its spread. To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people, do not gather in groups, stay out of crowded places, and avoid mass gatherings.
CDC recommends wearing masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Masks may slow the spread of the virus and help people who have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are ages 5 or older. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free!
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people outside your home. Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms length) from others.
- Wear a mask in public, even if you don’t feel sick. It will help protect others in case you are infected.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and then wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- Stay home if you have symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath.
- Seek emergency medical care if you develop severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, chest pain, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone.