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Coronavirus 101: What You Need to Know

Coronavirus (also called COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that spreads easily.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person in these ways:

  1. Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus
  2. 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
  3. Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them

Is it possible to spread COVID-19 if you’re not sick?

Yes. There have been reports of some people who didn’t have symptoms spreading infection, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Can you get COVID-19 from touching a contaminated surface or object?

It may be possible to get infected with COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Be sure to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces you touch a lot every day. These include doorknobs, light switches, countertops, tables, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.

What are symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

People with COVID-19 infection may have flu-like symptoms ranging from mild illness to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. But some people with COVID-19 never have symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms may include:

  • Body aches, muscle aches or severe muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Cough or pressure in the chest
  • Dizziness, confusion or trouble waking up
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Runny or stuffy nose (less common)
  • Severe weakness
  • Sore throat (less common)
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

What should you do if you think you have COVID-19?

If you have symptoms and think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider before you visit. Your provider can give you medical advice and answer questions about COVID-19 testing. About 8 in 10 people who get sick with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and can recover at home.

Learn more about what you should do if you think you have COVID-19.

Before you go,

Get additional tips on keeping your family healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more COVID-19 articles.