Facts About Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease is dramatically shifting how we live. It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety and uncertainty of the situation, but the best way to stay calm is to learn the facts. Here are answers to common questions about the virus:

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is part of a large family of viruses that can cause illness in people and animals. Human coronaviruses usually cause symptoms similar to those of a common cold. Rarely an animal coronavirus evolves to effect humans. When this happens, symptoms are typically more severe. Experts believe this is the case with COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as shaking hands or other forms of touching
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Should I be worried about getting sick?

Everyone should be concerned about contracting COVID-19. Experts say it is deadlier than the seasonal flu. However, 80-85 percent of those who get the virus will experience only mild symptoms. The virus is most dangerous for adults over age 60 and those with a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease.

What symptoms should I watch for?

COVID-19 frequently causes symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms are similar to those of moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses like the common cold. It can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

What should I do if I experience symptoms?

If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and have a fever with coughing and/or shortness of breath, call your doctor. He or she can provide advice on how to seek medical treatment without potentially exposing others. If you are only mildly ill, you should isolate yourself and stay in your home and contact your doctor for further instructions – we don’t want people going to their doctor’s office with mild symptoms. To relieve symptoms, take pain and fever medications, drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest.

What steps can I take to protect myself and my family?

Lower your risk of contracting COVID-19 and help prevent the spread of disease by taking these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth
  • Frequently clean surfaces
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms

Where can I find out the latest COVID-19 news and updates?

The most up-to-date news at the national and state level can be found here:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Public Health

To learn more about coronavirus disease, visit Edward-Elmhurst Health online.