What Is COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

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*All Information in this section is taken directly from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

How It Spreads
The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
   • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
   • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Symptoms
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
   • fever
   • cough 
   • shortness of breath
   • severe complications include pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure and in some cases death

How Can I Protect Myself?
*All Information in this section directly from CDC

Protecting Yourself
   • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
   • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
   • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
   • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
   • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Protecting Others
   • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
   • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
   • Throw used tissues in the trash.
   • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
   • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
   • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
   • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
   • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

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