What is a coronavirus?
- Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.
- In humans, several coronaviruses are known to circulate in the community and cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
- The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
- It is part of a larger family of viruses called coronavirus, some of which are in circulation normally and can cause illnesses like the common cold.
- You can learn more about coronavirus disease 2019 at the CDC website.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 symptoms are very similar to influenza symptoms
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Fever, including the sensation of fever or chills
- and dry cough
Some patients may have:
- Aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.
- Most people (about 80%) have a mild presentation and recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
- Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing mainly due to a viral pneumonia.
- Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
- About 2% of people with the disease have died.
- People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How does COVID-19 spread?
- People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus.
- The disease can spread from person-to-person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales.
- These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person and can cause disease during a short period of time. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
- People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet away from a person who is sick and to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
- The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease.
- Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.
Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?
Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. See previous answer on “How does COVID-19 spread?”
Can COVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?
The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low, but this information may change with further investigation. Health officials are assessing ongoing research and will continue to share findings. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. Health officials are assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.
Am I at risk for COVID-19 in the United States?
This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment may change daily. The latest updates are available on the Pinal County Public Health website.
Has anyone in the United States gotten infected?
The first COVID-19 case in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The first confirmed instance of person-person-spread with this virus in the U.S. was reported on January 30, 2020. See the current U.S. case count of COVID-19.
Can I catch COVID-19 from the feces of someone with the disease?
The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, it is unclear if the virus can be contagious through this route. Therefore, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. Health officials are assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.
How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?
Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?
Protection measures for everyone:
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if there are no washing facilities available.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading:
Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
- If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.
Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
Should I wear a facemask in the community to prevent COVID-19?
Currently, health officials do not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings(at home or in a health care facility).
Should I worry about COVID-19?
If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, or if you have not travelled from one of those areas or have not been in close contact with someone who has and is feeling unwell, your chances of getting it are currently low.
Follow the advice of your healthcare provider. Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes) appear to be more vulnerable.
Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
While we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, studies suggest that infants less than 5-years old, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
Should I be tested for COVID-19?
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
How do you test a person for COVID-19?
At this time, diagnostic testing for COVID-19 can be conducted only at CDC. Appropriate specimens are taken from the respiratory tract. Most often it is a naso-pharyngeal swab, the same specimen type used for testing for influenza. Other samples will depend on symptoms and severity of cases.
State and local health departments who have identified a person under investigation (PUI) should immediately notify CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to report the PUI and determine whether testing for COVID-19 at CDC is indicated. The EOC will assist local/state health departments to collect, store, and ship specimens appropriately to CDC, including during afterhours or on weekends/holidays.
For more information on specimen collection see CDC Information for Laboratories.
Where is the sample tested?
Currently, the state and commercial laboratories are unable to test for COVID-19. All samples are shipped to the CDC.
Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19?
Using the CDC-developed diagnostic test, a negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in the person’s sample. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected.
For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness.
Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?
No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a potential bacterial co-infection.
Are antivirals effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?
No. Currently, there are no antivirals that have been identified to work effectively against the COVID-19. Health officials continue to research drug treatments.
Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from people who are coughing or sneezing. For more information, see basic protective measures against the new coronavirus.
Is COVID-19 the same as SARS?
No. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically, but they are different. SARS is more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19.
COVID-19 AND ANIMALS
Can humans become infected with the COVID-19 from an animal source?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Rarely, people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.
To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.
Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?
No. There is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.
Is there anything I should not do? The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:
- Taking traditional herbal remedies
- Wearing multiple masks
- Taking self-medication such as antibiotics
- In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.
Is it safe to travel to China or other countries where COVID-19 cases have occurred?
- The CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to certain countries. For an up-to-date list, please see CDC Travel Advisories
- The CDC is advising travelers to avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead) and animal markets. The CDC recommends washing hands often during travel.
- The situation is evolving. These notices will be updated as more information becomes available.
What if you recently traveled to China or other countries where COVID-19 cases have occurred and now you feel sick?
If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath and have recently traveled to China within 14 days of symptoms, you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others while sick.
- Avoid travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
CDC does have additional specific guidance for travelers available online.
MYTHBUSTERS REGARDING COVID-19
There are many rumors and myths regarding COVID-19.
Please click here for more information.