What are coronaviruses?
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. They are a respiratory virus named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. We are currently aware of seven different types of human coronaviruses, four of which are associated with mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Other types of the virus include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, (MERS) and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), which is responsible for the latest outbreak. Although COVID-19 is similar to the other types of coronaviruses, it is unique in many ways and we are still learning more each day.
How do you get infected with COVID-19?
COVID-19 is spread by close person-to-person contact from droplets from a cough or sneeze, which can get into your mouth, nose, or lungs. Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet of another person. There aren’t many cases in the U.S., so the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low.
How do I know if I have COVID-19?
If you were recently exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have been in a place where an outbreak has occurred within the last two weeks the following symptoms could indicate you have contracted COVID-19:
- cough; or
- shortness of breath.
Unless your symptoms are severe, it is recommended you call your healthcare provider first before entering a healthcare facility. When speaking with a healthcare provider in-person or on the phone, be sure to note your symptoms, travel history, or if you were exposed to a person diagnosed with the virus.