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Coronavirus Facts

(updated August 2021)

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are different kinds of them, they've been around a long time, and they can make us sick. Right now, everyone is focused on a new coronavirus that's causing a disease called COVID-19.

What are the symptoms?

According to the CDC, the most common coronavirus symptoms are:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough, sore throat, or runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches or headache
  • Feeling very tired
  • Feeling short of breath or having trouble breathing
  • Upset stomach (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)
  • New loss of taste or smell

Some people with coronavirus have lots of symptoms, and some only have few. Others don’t have any symptoms at all — and may not even know they’re sick. 

Most people with coronavirus get better within 2 weeks, but some people get very sick and have to stay in the hospital. They may need a ventilator to help them breathe, and they may even die.

Call 911 or go to the emergency room right away if you’re having a medical emergency or if you have:

  • Trouble breathing — or if your lips or face look blue
  • Severe chest pain
  • Sudden confusion

How does it spread?

The coronavirus mainly spreads through the air when people cough, sneeze, talk, or breathe. It’s more likely to spread when people are within 6 feet of each other, or indoors where there isn’t a lot of air circulating. 

Experts think that symptoms can start within 2 to 14 days of coming in contact with the virus. So far, 5 to 7 days seems to be the norm.

How can I protect myself?

There are lots of ways to protect yourself and others, including getting the coronavirus vaccine, wearing a mask, and limiting how much time you spend near other people. 

Learn more about how to stay safe from coronavirus

How is coronavirus treated?

Most people get better on their own, but if you’re at higher risk of getting very sick, there may be treatment options. Those at higher risk include people over age 65 and people with health conditions like heart or lung problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, overweight or obesity, or a weakened immune system. 

If you’ve talked to your doctor and they recommend you stay home, you can treat your symptoms like you would treat a cold or the flu:

  • Drink lots of fluids, like water and herbal tea
  • Rest
  • Take over-the-counter medicines for pain, fever, and cough
  • Use a humidifier or take a hot shower to help with sore throat and cough

For people who get very sick and need to go to the hospital, there are other treatments that doctors can use — including drugs to help people’s bodies fight off the virus and ventilators to help people breathe. 

Where can I learn more?

Check the CDC website for the latest news and information.


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