What is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) 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.
What is the status of COVID-19 internationally and in the United States?
Geographic areas with Widespread or Sustained Community Transmission include China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. While cases have been identified in the United States, most are linked to recent travel to these areas. Experts are currently analyzing whether or not community transmission is occurring in the United States.
The current count of cases and outcomes can be followed on webpages built by the CDC (a) or Johns Hopkins (b).
What do we know about COVID-19’s transmission?
The risk of infection depends upon exposure. Right now, the greater chance of infection is for people in one of the areas listed above or who have traveled there recently.
Close contacts (within about 6 feet) of people who are infected are also at greater risk of exposure, primarily through droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which can land in nearby mouths or noses or inhaled. 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 mouth, nose, or possibly eyes.
People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (sick). While it is possible that the virus can be spread before an individual shows symptoms, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
What are the symptoms and severe complications of COVID-19?
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Many patients with severe complications experience pneumonia in both lungs.
Is there a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19?
Currently, no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 exists. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure to the disease (see below) and to seek medical help to manage severe symptoms.
How can I protect myself and my family?
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Prevent exposure and spread:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and use at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
If you are sick:
- Stay home and isolate as much as possible
- Wear a face mask when around others
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, and avoid sharing
- If visiting your health provider or seeking care, call ahead
Adapted by Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center from “What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)” and “What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Feb. 21, 2020