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: If you aren't vaccinated, you should wear a cloth face mask in public

For those who aren't fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing masks in indoor public settings, regardless of your vaccination status. And always keep a mask handy when you're outside. While you don't need to wear it if you're by yourself, with people from your household, or around fully vaccinated friends, you should put it on if you come across a crowded area and can't stay 6 feet away from others.

Don’t stress about purchasing surgical masks—these supplies are exclusively for health care workers. Instead, choose a face mask that has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. It should fit snugly and completely over your mouth and nose.

Fact #4: You can help stop COVID-19

First and foremost, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. In the meantime, minimize person-to-person spread (getting COVID-19 by touching an object with the virus on it and then touching your face) by:

  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Keeping away from people who are sick
  • When going out in public, maintaining at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a mask when around others
  • Steering clear of crowded indoor spaces

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
  • Steer clear of crowded indoor spaces

By following these simple prevention steps, you can help keep yourself and your community safe.

Stay Informed

Visit the CDC's website for daily updates on COVID-19.

Access additional resources focusing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic



Article last updated May 27, 2021

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