The global health and safety community continues to learn about this new virus. Because this information is continually evolving, the information covered in this section provides a basic level of understanding regarding the virus. Refer to the CDC website for the latest information.
What is Coronavirus?
SARS-CoV-2 is a betacoronavirus that causes the illness COVID-19. Betacoronaviruses include viruses such as SARS-CoV-1, which was responsible for the outbreak of SARS in 2003, and MERS-CoV, which was responsible for the outbreak of MERS or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. A large percentage of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic (do not have any signs of infection) or have mild symptoms of COVID-19; however, these people can still spread the virus and have been found to be a significant source of transmission. Refer to the CDC website for the latest information.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19?
People with COVID-19 can experience mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms attributed to COVID-19 include:
For those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19:
If you experience any of the following symptoms of COVID-19, seek emergency medical attention:
Symptoms typically appear between two to fourteen (2-14) days after exposure to the virus. This is also known as the incubation period.
How Does the Virus Spread?
COVID-19 is thought to spread through droplet formation (coughing, sneezing, or spraying of saliva or other respiratory secretions). Exposure happens when you come into direct contact with the secretions (droplets) of someone who has COVID-19 (being coughed or sneezed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.). Refer to the CDC website for the latest information.
Who is at a Higher Risk of Severe Complications from COVID-19?
While anyone can become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, health organizations around the globe have identified older adults (people aged 65 years and older), women who are pregnant, and individuals of any age with underlying medical conditions as those with a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Refer to the CDC website for the latest list of these health conditions.