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COVID-19 Overview

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) is an illness caused by a newly identified (novel) coronavirus. Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of many illnesses that range from common colds to more serious upper respiratory infections.


Some people infected with the virus have no symptoms. When the virus does cause symptoms, common ones include fever, body ache, cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. In some people, COVID-19 causes more severe symptoms like high fever, severe cough and shortness of breath, which often indicates pneumonia. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the coronavirus.


The virus is primarily spread from person to person. You can become infected by coming into close contact with a person who has COVID-19. You can become infected from respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes heavily or talks. You may also be able to get the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then by touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

General Precautions

The best way to prevent COVID-19 infection is to avoid being exposed. The virus can spread from individuals who do not look or feel sick. Knowing that spread occurs through respiratory droplets, it is strongly recommended that everyone adheres to the following:

Practice Social (Physical) Distancing

Maintain good social distancing (at least 6 feet or about 2 arms’ length) from other people.

Cover Your Mouth and Nose

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering (mask) when around others.

  • • A mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. The mask will reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets.
  • • Continue to keep at least 6 feet (or about 2 arms’ lengths) between yourself and others. A mask is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • Practice Proper Hand Hygiene
  • It is recommended that you clean your hands:
  • • After you have been in a public place and/or touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people.
  • • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; this is how germs enter our bodies.
  • Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Follow these five steps to wash your hands the right way every time.

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.

2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.

3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Hand Sanitizer Use

Soap and water are preferable. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. The product label will list the alcohol content.

When using hand sanitizer, ensure you do the following:

  • • Apply the hand sanitizer product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • • Rub your hands together.
  • • Rub the hand sanitizer over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Glove Use

For the general public, the CDC recommends wearing gloves when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick. In most other situations, wearing gloves is not necessary and may lead to the spread of germs. Instead of wearing gloves, practice proper hand hygiene as outlined above.