According to the CDC, the novel coronavirus is part of a large family of viruses common in people and many different species of animals. The virus causes a respiratory illness, called COVID-19, and can spread from person to person. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
How is the Virus Spread?
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.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- 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.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
It 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.
How easily the virus spreads
How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.
What Can I Do?
The CDC recommends the following precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Stay home if you are sick. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.
- Do not shake hands. Instead, wave or elbow bump.
- If you have family or friends who are elderly, have compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory or coronary issues, do not visit them if you feel sick. Stay home and keep your loved ones safe.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or disinfecting wipes.
- More information for those who may have compromised immune systems.
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