COVID-19 Basics

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an illness caused by the SARS-Coronavirus-2, a novel (new) coronavirus that had not previously been identified. The virus was first detected in China.

How does the COVID-19 virus spread?

The virus is thought to spread primarily through person-to-person contact. Respiratory droplets that are produced when a person coughs or sneezes can enter the mouths or noses of other people nearby, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms are similar to the flu and include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

What is my risk of getting COVID-19? Should I be concerned?

For most of the American public, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. However, since this is a rapidly evolving situation, we recommend checking the CDC website at for the latest information.

COVID-19 Prevention

How can I avoid COVID-19 exposure or infection?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home and practice social distancing. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting sick (including adults over age 60 or those with chronic medical conditions, like heart or lung disease).
  • Wash your hands often, either with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve – not your hands – when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.

Should I avoid traveling?

It is best to avoid nonessential travel within the United States. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase chances of getting COVID-19, if there are other travelers with coronavirus infection.

The Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel, which advises all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders and prohibiting non-citizens from entry.

In addition, cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.

If You Get Sick

What should I do if I have symptoms?

If you have symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, call ahead before seeking medical care. This will help your healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from becoming exposed or infected, and to determine the best setting for you to receive care.

If you are age 65 or older, have a chronic medical condition, or are immunocompromised, please call your primary care doctor at the first sign of fever or respiratory illness. If you do not have a primary care doctor, please call 1-800-VALLEY 1 to request an appointment.

If your symptoms are mild, you may be advised to remain home and self-quarantine for 14 days, as recommended by the CDC.

Should I get tested for COVID-19?

Your healthcare professional will work with the state public health department and CDC to determine if you need to get tested for COVID-19. More information is on the CDC website at

Do I need to wear a mask?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, wear a facemask when you’re around other people, pets, or in your healthcare provider’s office. People who aren’t sick don’t need to wear a mask, unless they’re caring for those who have symptoms.

How can I protect my family and others?

  • Stay home – Avoid activities outside your home, except to get medical care.
  • Avoid close contact with family members or pets – Stay in a separate room and, if possible, use another bathroom than other people in your home.
  • Practice good hygiene – This includes covering coughs and sneezes; not sharing cups, utensils, bedding or other items; cleaning your hands often; and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects, like countertops, toilets and keyboards.
  • Monitor your symptoms – Seek medical care if your condition worsens (call your healthcare provider’s office before arriving, so they can take steps to avoid exposure to other patients and staff).