What is COVID-19?

What are coronaviruses? 

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Some coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause upper respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, although some can cause more serious illness. The 2019 novel (new) coronavirus causes the illness coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was identified in late 2019 and was declared a pandemic on March 11. COVID-19 is an international, national and North Carolina public health emergency.

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself and your community from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses

Exposure and symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

The CDC recommends you stay home and separate yourself from other people in the home as much as possible if:

  • You are sick with COVID-19
  • You believe you might have it
  • You think you might have COVID-19 and have mild symptoms

Before going to a health care provider, clinic, hospital or emergency room, call ahead to describe your symptoms and how you might have been exposed to the virus. In the event of an emergency call 9-1-1.

No one group, ethnicity or population in the US is more likely to get or spread coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than others. While some people may be worried or have concerns about COVID-19, it is important to not let fear lead to social stigma toward others.