COVID-19 key facts

No matter who you are or where you live, one topic is dominating all conversations: The coronavirus. In this ever-changing world filled with more questions than answers, here’s what experts know for certain.

Fact #1: No one is immune

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. The respiratory illness has spread around the globe—reaching the U.S. and more than 100 other countries. Anyone can get sick regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Fact #2: It's possible to have the coronavirus and not know it

Feeling like your typical, healthy self doesn’t necessarily mean you are virus-free. Some people who test positive for COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all.

And even for those who do develop symptoms, it can take up to 14 days for the warning signs to appear. Patients with COVID-19 report a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In certain cases, the coronavirus can cause pneumonia and other deadly complications.

Fact #3: You should wear a cloth face mask in public

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing face coverings in public settings and at events and gatherings. Essentially, wear a mask whenever you’ll be around others.

Don’t stress about purchasing surgical masks—these supplies are exclusively for health care workers. Instead, make your cloth face covering from items found at home. You can use a bandana, T-shirt, or any other cotton fabric.

What are the recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated? You still need to wear a face mask in public. But you don’t have to worry about masks or physical distancing when visiting indoors with:

  • Other fully vaccinated people
  • Unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease

According to the CDC, you’re considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines
  • Two weeks after your Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Fact #4: You can help stop COVID-19

To prevent surface transmission (getting COVID-19 by touching an object with the virus on it and then touching your face):

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water; scrub for at least 20 seconds (You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if handwashing isn’t an option)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often (doorknobs, light switches, remotes, etc.)

To minimize person-to-person spread (getting COVID-19 through the droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes):

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Keep away from people who are sick
  • When going out in public, maintain at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others
  • Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people
  • Steer clear of crowded indoor spaces. If you are indoors with others, make sure the area is properly ventilated by bring in outdoor air as much as possible. 

By following these simple prevention steps, you can help keep yourself and your community safe. Visit the CDC's website for daily updates on COVID-19.

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