Page updated: Sunday, March 22, 2020
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new virus called SARS-CoV-2. The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Most people with COVID-19 will have mild disease but some people will get sicker and may need to be hospitalized.
The vast majority of people with novel coronavirus infection do not require medical care or hospitalization. A much smaller percentage of people get severely ill with respiratory problems like pneumonia. People most at risk for severe illness are:
Symptoms of coronavirus may include:
Often, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest), but there is some indication of spread by individuals who are not exhibiting typical symptoms.
Testing availability is still very limited in our area. Not everyone needs to be tested.
We need to preserve testing for those who most need it. This includes:
If you do not have insurance:
If you do have insurance:
You generally need to be in close contact with a sick person to get infected. Close contact includes:
You should monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work or school, and should avoid public places for 14 days.
If you are sick and have symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, and fever, stay home except to get medical care.
What should I do if I was in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and get sick?
If you get sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are very mild), you likely have COVID-19.
If you have conditions that may increase your risk for a serious infection (e.g. age 60 years or older, are pregnant, or have medical conditions) contact your physician’s office and tell them that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. They may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for COVID-19.
What should I do to keep my infection from spreading to my family and other people in the community?
Stay home except to get medical care. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
We are not recommending that people wear masks when they are in public. Masks can be useful in some settings to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading respiratory droplets to others. That’s why we recommend that people who are sick put a mask on if they are waiting in a clinic or must go out in public.
If you are sick and unable to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not be in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
There are no specific treatments for COVID-19. However, you can do some things to relieve your symptoms, including:
We are working to identify and advise those people who have had close contact with confirmed cases.
Once we know this information, we reach out to each person who is a close contact to:
We also know that there are people infected with COVID-19 in our community who will not be tested, so people in our community will come in contact with COVID-19 and not be aware of it.
Identifying close contacts and informing them to stay home and monitor for symptoms is an important public health response. We make these contacts as soon as possible.
If you were a close contact of a confirmed case while they were at the hospital, you can expect to have someone from the hospital contact you. The hospital infection prevention team does the contact investigation work for hospital employees, patients and visitors. They are able to use electronic medical records to see who was in the waiting room at the same time as the confirmed case.
We know that COVID-19 is most likely to be transmitted when people have been with someone infected with COVID-19 for at least 10 minutes within 6 feet of that person. Because of this, we concentrate our case investigation activities on those people that had close contact with a confirmed case for a prolonged period of time. We work diligently to contact the individuals and the organizations that meet the close contact definition and advise them as to the steps to take to protect themselves and the community.
If during our investigation with a person who has lab-confirmed COVID-19 we learn of a time during their infectious period that they may have put the general public at an increased risk of infection, we will release this information to the public as soon as we have the information.
Everyone should be aware that there is a baseline of risk for all of us since we know that there are people infected with COVID-19 in our community that will not be tested and people in our community will come in contact with COVID-19 and not be aware of it. We know our most effective strategies are those for everyone in our community and not based on test results. Please see our website for things everyone can be doing to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Though the Health Department recommends that gatherings be avoided when possible, these guidelines for informal gatherings of children and youth while schools are closed will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 when families need to share resources for childcare.
If you are not experiencing symptoms and have not been exposed to a confirmed case:
For individuals with symptoms who are confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 and are directed to care for themselves at home, discontinue home isolation under the following conditions:
Additional information for your household members, intimate partners, and caregivers at http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html.