What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus which was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in other countries, including the United States.
For some, the respiratory virus causes mild symptoms like the common cold or influenza (flu), for others it can cause severe pneumonia that requires medical care or hospitalization.
The virus is named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of COVID-19 may include:
Fever, Cough, Difficulty breathing, Sore throat (in some patients). Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Most patients experience mild symptoms and can recuperate at home, but others, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, may experience more severe respiratory illness.
How does it spread?
The virus appears to spread in similar ways to influenza (flu) and the common cold. This may include spreading through:
The air by coughing and sneezing, Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
The virus can spread from person-to-person and in some locations there is apparent community spread, meaning some people are infected and are not sure how or where they became infected.
How can I help to prevent the spread?
There are simple steps you can take to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses such as influenza and the common cold:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home while you’re sick and avoid close contact with others. Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing. Tell your health care professional about any recent travel or contact with other COVID-19 cases. Your healthcare professional will work with Maine CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. More information is available on the U.S. CDC’s What You Should Know page.
What is the situation in the U.S.?
For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though still relatively low risk of exposure.
Health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure. Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure. U.S. CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19 and provided an updated Check And Report Everyday booklet for China travelers.