This video answers common questions about coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, such as how it is different from cold, flu, or allergies and how it is diagnosed and treated.

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a respiratory illness that can cause infection (pneumonia) in both lungs. In some cases, COVID-19 can cause death.

How do you get COVID-19?

COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person-between people who have close contact—usually living in the same place or by being within about 6 feet of each other. It may be spread through droplets when a person coughs or sneezes into the air.

It may be possible to get the virus if you touch a surface or object with the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Are some people more at risk of COVID-19?

Older adults and people with serious chronic health conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for complications. You are also at risk and should call your healthcare provider if: you have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing; have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19; or are experiencing body aches, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, and an upset stomach and diarrhea.

How do you avoid COVID-19?

To help prevent spread of COVID-19:

• Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds. Use soap and clean, running water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

• Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if you haven’t washed your hands.

• Don’t have close contact with people who are sick.

• Keep distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community and wear a cloth mask

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

• Stay informed about COVID-19 in your area. Follow all instructions about public gatherings and staying home, or “sheltering in place.”

How do you know you might have COVID-19?

It's possible to have the coronavirus and not know it. Symptoms can include fever, coughing and trouble breathing. Other symptoms may include body aches, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, and an upset stomach and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after contact with the virus.

How is COVID-19 different from cold, flu, or allergies?

With a cold or allergies, you might have similar symptoms as COVID-19 (like a cough or runny nose), but they are generally more mild.

The symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can look similar even though they are caused by different viruses. Unlike the flu, there currently is no vaccine for COVID-19.

While shortness of breath sometimes can happen with the flu, it’s more common in COVID-19. If you have a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider.

What if you think you have COVID-19?

Stay home and call your healthcare provider. Call before going to a clinic, emergency room, or healthcare facility. Follow the healthcare provider’s instructions. And limit physical contact with family members and others in your house.

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, recent travel, and contact with sick people. Your provider will also consider whether COVID-19 is spreading in your community. COVID-19 is diagnosed by a nose and throat swab.

How is COVID-19 treated?

Experts are working on treatments for COVID-19, but there currently is no medicine or vaccine to treat the virus. Many people with COVID-19 can stay home while they recover. Treatment includes: getting rest, staying hydrated , and taking over-the-counter pain relievers as advised by your healthcare provider.

Less often, some people have severe illness and need hospital care. Care in the hospital may include:

• IV (intravenous) fluids and antibiotics if pneumonia is a complication.

• Supplemental oxygen or ventilation with a breathing machine (ventilator). This is done so you get enough oxygen in your body.

I’ve been diagnosed with the virus. Now what?

Stay home and follow all instructions from your healthcare provider. Wash your hands often, use a separate bathroom and stay in a separate room away from other people in your home. Wear a cloth mask when others are near you. If you cannot wear a mask, others should wear one when they are close to you. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and do not share food or drinking utensils.

Talk with your healthcare provider before you leave home. Self-isolation can stop when all 3 of these are true: you have had no fever (and no medicine that reduces fever) for at least 72 hours; your symptoms have improved; it has been at least 7 days since your first symptoms started. If you've been tested to see if you're still contagious, you can stop isolation if you are fever-free AND your symptoms have improved AND you have had two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Your healthcare provider will tell you more.

To learn the latest about COVID-19, visit the CDC website at

Last modified date: 4/22/2020

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