About Coronavirus (COVID-19)


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​Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people, and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats.  Rarely animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide.  However, the emergence of novel (new) coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, have been associated with more severe respiratory illness.

Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

Symptoms

Common human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. These illnesses usually only last for a short amount of time. Symptoms may include:

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Repeated shaking with chills

  • Muscle pain

  • Headache

  • Sore throat

  • New loss of taste of smell

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

  • New confusion or inability to arouse

  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.

Transmission

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through

  • the air by coughing and sneezing

  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

  • touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

  • rarely, fecal contamination

Prevention

The following can help prevent the spread of coronaviruses and protect yourself from becoming infected.

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands

  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

*There are currently no vaccines to protect against human coronavirus infection

Treatment

There are no specific treatments. To help relieve symptoms

  • take pain and fever medications

  • drink plenty of liquids

  • stay home and rest

Testing

Venturing out into a public setting? What to consider before you go.

As communities and businesses across the United States are opening, you may be thinking about resuming some activities, running errands, and attending events and gatherings. There is no way to ensure you have zero risk of infection, so it is important to understand the risks and know how to be as safe as possible.

People at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and those who live with them, should consider their level of risk before deciding to go out and ensure they are taking steps to protect themselves. Consider avoiding activities where taking protective measures may be difficult, such as activities where social distancing can't be maintained. Everyone should take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 to protect themselves, their communities, and people who are at increased risk of severe illness.

In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.

  • If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions.

  • Keep these items on hand and use them when venturing out: a mask cloth, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if possible.

  • If possible, avoid others who are not wearing masks or ask others around you to wear masks.

Are you considering in-person visits with family and friends? Here are some things to consider to help make your visit as safe as possible:

When to delay or cancel a visit

  • Delay or cancel a visit if you or your visitors have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

  • Anyone who has had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should stay home and monitor for symptoms.

In general, the more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. So, think about:

  • How many people will you interact with?

  • Can you keep 6 feet of space between you and others?

  • Will you be outdoors or indoors?

  • What's the length of time that you will be interacting with people?

Encourage social distancing during your visit

  • Visit with your friends and family outdoors, when possible. If this is not feasible, make sure the room or space is well-ventilated (for example, open windows or doors) and large enough to accommodate social distancing.

  • Arrange tables and chairs to allow for social distancing. People from the same household can be in groups together and don't need to be 6 feet apart from each other.

  • Consider activities where social distancing can be maintained, like sidewalk chalk art or yard games.

  • Try to avoid close contact with your visitors. For example, don't shake hands, elbow bump, or hug. Instead wave and verbally greet them.

  • If possible, avoid others who are not wearing masks or ask others around you to wear masks.

  • Consider keeping a list of people you visited or who visited you and when the visit occurred. This will help with contract tracing if someone becomes sick.

Wear masks

  • Masks should be worn over the nose and mouth. Masks are especially important when it is difficult to stay at least 6 feet apart from others or when people are indoors to help protect each other.

  • Masks may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others

    • Wearing a mask helps protects others in case you're infected, while others wear one to protect you should they be infected.

  • Who should NOT use masks: Children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Wash hands often

  • Everyone should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds at the beginning and end of the visit and whenever you think your hands may have become contaminated.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, such as with outdoor visits or activities, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

  • Remind guests to wash or sanitize their hands before serving or eating food.

  • Use single-use hand towels or paper towels for drying hands so visitors do not share towels. Have a no-touch trash can available for guests to use.

Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items

  • Encourage your visitors to bring their own food and drinks.

  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use.

  • If you choose to use any shared items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash, clean, and sanitize them after the event.

If you are thinking about participating in an event or gathering:

If you are at increased risk for severe illness, consider avoiding high-risk gatherings. The risk of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows:

Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear masks, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.


Source: Illinois Department of Public Health, March 2020 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).