Coronavirus Disease 2019 | COVID-19

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by infection with a new strain of coronavirus scientifically named SARS-CoV-2 and was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019.

What is the Risk?

According to the CDC, the risk posed by COVID-19 depends on the virus's characteristics. How easily the virus spreads between people, the severity of resulting illness, and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccines or medications that can treat the illness) affect the degree of risk. Vaccines or treatments for COVID-19 are not yet available. Because of this, community interventions that can help reduce the impact of disease, like physical distancing and good hand hygiene, are an extremely important part of the COVID-19 response.

When trying to understand the risk that COVID-19 poses, it’s helpful to think in terms of two types of riskrisk of exposure and risk of serious illness and death.

Risk of exposure

  • Cases of COVID-19 and instances of community spread are reported in all states.
  • Where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported, people are at elevated risk of exposure. The level of their risk depends on their location.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of people with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with their level of risk depending on where they traveled.

Risk of severe illness

Based on current information, persons at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions

Content adapted from CDC materials.


People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

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.