Updated Feb. 21, 2020

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus strain that was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States on Jan. 22, in Snohomish County, Wash.

Health experts are concerned about COVID-19 because little is known about the virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia.

However, current risk to the general public is low and there are a small number of individual cases in the United States. To minimize the risk of spread, health officials in Washington state and throughout the United States are working with healthcare providers to quickly identify and evaluate suspected cases.

Symptoms may appear between two and 14 days after exposure to the virus and include the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea (rare)

Novel coronavirus has not been spreading widely in the United States, so there are no special precautions recommended for the public. The precautions for avoiding COVID-19 are the same as those for avoiding the flu and common cold. Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent novel coronavirus infections.

About Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses most often associated with the common cold in humans. Coronaviruses are commonly found in many animal species, including cattle, cats and bats. Animal coronaviruses can sometimes infect people and then change, allowing them to spread from person to person, which occurred in the case of the SARS virus in 2002-2003 and with the MERS virus in 2012.


For the general public

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center Regional Treatment Center/Special Pathogens Unit

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019 Novel Coronavirus Cases in the United States

Washington State Dept. of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Cases in Washington state

Washington State Dept. of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Fact Sheet

For workplaces and employers

Washington State Dept. of Health Workplace Recommendations

For schools

Washington State Dept. of Health School Nurse and Administrator Resources

For health care professionals

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Flowchart to Identify and Assess 2019 Novel Coronavirus

SRHD For Healthcare Providers