What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes the disease COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the infectious respiratory disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December, 2019.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80 percent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention.
How is COVID-19 spread?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 6 feet away from a person who is sick.
Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. See previous answer on “How does COVID-19 spread?”
Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?
The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. WHO and other public health agencies are assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19.
Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
The scientific and public health community are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, however, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?
No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.
Are there any medicines or therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?
While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no current scientific or medical evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. WHO and other public health agencies do not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19.
Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments, including the use of some existing drugs, are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO and other public health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.
During this public health crisis, it important that we all take steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Below are the most recent recommendations announced by federal, state, and local public health agencies.
- Stay at home. We must all follow Gov. Newsom’s stay at home order.
- Avoid gatherings if you must leave your home. If you must leave your home, Los Angeles and Orange counties have barred all non-essential public gatherings or events of any size. If you are a person who has underlying health conditions, is elderly, or is otherwise at risk of serious complications, public health agencies agree that you should avoid any type of gatherings altogether.
- Practice social distancing. That means limiting the time you spend in public and keeping a 6-foot distance between yourself and other people when you are in public.
- Avoid non-essential travel, and do not travel to areas where there are outbreaks of coronavirus. The U.S. State Department is urging all Americans to avoid travel outside of the United States.
- Abstain from all cruise ship travel, as suggested by the CDC.
- Continue to wash your hands frequently and stay home.
- If you are self-quarantined, make sure you connect with the Department of Public Health so that you have all the necessary follow up and supplies.
- Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant should immediately contact their providers when they are sick.
- Call your health care provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.
CDC Fact Sheets
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know (English)
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know (Spanish)
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Fact Sheet: What To Do If You Are Sick (English)
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Fact Sheet: What To Do If You Are Sick (Spanish)
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Fact Sheet: What the Public Should Do (English)
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Fact Sheet: Stop the Spread of Germs (English)
CORONAVIRUS: CDC Fact Sheet: Stop the Spread of Germs (Spanish)
Trusted Resources During The Coronavirus Crisis
Donating blood is an essential part of ensuring community health. Learn how you can help, click here.
For the latest updates from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, click here.
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For the latest updates from the Los Angeles County Office of Education, click here.
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For the latest updates from the Mayor of Los Angeles, click here.
For the latest updates from the California Department of Public Health, click here.
For the latest updates from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), click here.
For the latest updates from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), click here.
For the latest updates on travel from the U.S. Department of State, click here.
For the latest updates on student loans from the U.S. Department of Education, click here.
For the latest updates from the U.S. Small Business Administration, click here.
For the latest updates from the Social Security Administration, click here.
For the latest updates from the Department of Veterans Affairs, click here.
For the latest updates on coronavirus scams from the Federal Trade Commission, click here.
For the latest updates from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), click here.
For the latest updates from the World Health Organization (WHO), click here.