Covid 19
COVID-19

Updated last May 21, 2022.

 

What is COVID-19?

​COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people become severely ill. Older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first getting COVID-19. Even those who do not become severely ill from COVID-19 may experience post-COVID conditions.

Spread

How does the virus spread?

COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:

  • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.

  • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.

  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

What is community spread?

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Each health department determines community spread differently based on local conditions. For information on community spread in your area, please visit your local health department’s website.

What are COVID-19 Community Levels?

COVID-19 Community Levels are a tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at the percent of hospital beds being used by patients with COVID-19, the rate of new hospital admissions in the population, and the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the community. People can take different steps depending on the COVID-19 Community Level in their area.

 

Prevention

Get Vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines

  • COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing you from getting sick. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.

  • Getting vaccinated is the best way to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including people with weakened immune systems.

Wear a mask

  • Everyone ages 2 years and older should properly wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public in areas where the COVID-19 Community Level is high, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Wear a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.

  • If you are in an area with a high COVID-19 Community Level and are ages 2 or older, wear a mask indoors in public.

  • If you are sick and need to be around others, or are caring for someone who has COVID-19, wear a mask.

  • If you are at increased risk for severe illness, or live with or spend time with someone at higher risk, speak to your healthcare provider about wearing a mask at medium COVID-19 Community Levels.

  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. They should talk to their healthcare providers about what additional precautions may be necessary.​

 

Everyone aged 2 years or older—including passengers and workers— should properly wear a well-fitting  mask or respirator in indoor areas of public transportation (such as airplanes, trains, buses, ferries) and transportation hubs (such as airports, stations, and seaports), especially in locations that are crowded or poorly ventilated such as airport jetways.

Stay 6 feet away from others

  • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick, if possible. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members. If you are taking care of someone who is sick, make sure you properly wear a well-fitting mask and follow other steps to protect yourself.

  • Indoors in public: If you are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, stay at least 6 feet away from other people, especially if you are at higher risk of getting very sick with COVID-19.

 

Avoid poorly ventilated spaces and crowds

  • If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.

  • If you are at increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, avoid crowded places and indoor spaces that do not have fresh air from the outdoors.

Test to prevent spread to others

  • You can choose from many different types of tests.

  • Tests for SARS-CoV-2(the virus that causes COVID-19) tell you if you have an infection at the time of the test. This type of test is called a viral test because it looks for viral infection.

  • Regardless of the test type you select, a positive test result means that you have an infection and should isolate and inform your close contacts to avoid spreading disease to others.

  • Over-the-counter self-tests are viral tests that can be used at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. Anyone can use self-tests, regardless of their vaccination status or whether they have symptoms.

  • COVID-19 self-tests are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.

Wash your hands often

  • 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.

  • It’s especially important to wash your hands:

    • Before eating or preparing food

    • Before touching your face

    • After using the restroom

    • After leaving a public place

    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

    • After handling your mask

    • After changing a diaper

    • After caring for someone sick

    • After touching animals or pets

  • 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.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • If you are wearing a mask: You can cough or sneeze into your mask. Put on a new, clean mask as soon as possible and wash your hands.

  • If you are not wearing a mask:

    • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.

    • 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.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean high touch surfaces regularly or as needed and after you have visitors in your home. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

  • If someone is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Monitor your health daily

  • Be alert for symptoms:

    • Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.

    • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.

    • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.

    • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

  • Monitoring symptoms is especially important if you are running errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.

Follow recommendations for quarantine

Follow recommendations for isolation

Take precautions when you travel

If you Have COVID-19

What are the recommendations for someone who has symptoms of  COVID-19?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or think you might have COVID-19, follow the steps below to care for yourself and to help protect other people in your home and community.

  • Stay at home (except to get tested or to get medical care).

  • Wear a well-fitting mask around other people for 10 days.

  • Do not travel for 10 days.

  • Separate yourself from others.

  • Monitor your symptoms.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Clean surfaces in your home regularly.

  • Avoid sharing personal household items.

 

What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19?

If you receive a positive test result, you should

  • Stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home.

  • Tell your close contacts.

  • Wear a well-fitting mask when around others. If available, a N95 or KN95 respirator is recommended.

  • Watch for symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately.

  • Tell your healthcare provider. Contact them as soon as possible if:

    • Your symptoms get worse.

    • You are more likely to get very sick because you are an older adult or have an underlying medical condition. Possible treatment may be available for you.

    • You have questions about your isolation.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Watch for Symptoms

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

 

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

  • New confusion

  • Inability to wake or stay awake

  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know

Omicron in the United States

CDC is working with state and local public health officials to monitor the spread of Omicron. As of December 20, 2021, Omicron had been detected in every U.S. state and territory and continues to be the dominant variant in the United States.

Spread

The Omicron variant, like other variants, is comprised of a number of lineages and sublineages. The three most common lineages of Omicron currently are BA.1, BA.1.1 and BA.2.

The Omicron variant spreads more easily than earlier variants of the virus that cause COVID-19, including the Delta variant. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection, regardless of vaccination status or whether or not they have symptoms, can spread the virus to others.

Symptoms

Persons infected with the Omicron variant can present with symptoms similar to previous variants. The presence and severity of symptoms can be affected by COVID-19 vaccination status, the presence of other health conditions, age, and history of prior infection.

Severe Illness

Omicron infection generally causes less severe disease than infection with prior variants. Preliminary data suggest that Omicron may cause more mild disease, although some people may still have severe disease, need hospitalization, and could die from the infection with this variant. Even if only a small percentage of people with Omicron infection need hospitalization, a large volume of cases in a community could overwhelm the healthcare system which is why it’s important to take steps to protect yourself.

Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19 and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. This includes primary series, booster shots, and additional doses for those who need them.

Current vaccines protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are vaccinated can occur. People who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines and get COVID-19 are less likely to develop serious illness than those who are unvaccinated and get COVID-19.

Treatment

Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Some monoclonal antibody treatments are less effective against Omicron’s BA.2 lineage, but continue to work against BA.1 and BA.1.1 lineages. Other non-monoclonal antibody treatments remain effective against Omicron. Public health agencies work with healthcare providers to ensure that effective treatments are used appropriately to treat patients.

Content provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).