2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is COVD-19?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Some coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States, and usually cause upper respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, although some can cause more serious illness. The 2019 novel (new) coronavirus causes the illness COVID-19.

 How can I prevent becoming infected with COVID-19?

Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands. High risk populations include adults over 65 years, people with weakened immune systems, and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.

We encourage you to take common sense precautions to prevent the spread of all infectious diseases by:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are ill.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched.

These precautions are also helpful in preventing the spread of common illnesses such as influenza.

What should I do if I have become exposed to COVID-19?

If you have traveled to an area with an active outbreak, such as China, in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing you should:

  • Call your doctor’s office or the local health department. Before you visit any medical provider call ahead and tell them about your recent travel history and/or exposure and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Avoid non-essential travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Where can I learn more?

To stay up to date on the latest and to make sure you are getting accurate information from reliable sources WCHD encourages you to visit the CDC’s Coronavirus website at : https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ and the North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Coronavirus website at:  https://www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.  Please also visit the CDC’s link on handwashing at:  https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

If you have questions or concerns you can call the North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline at: 1-866-462-3821 for more information. Press 1 for English or to ask for a language interpretor. Spanish speaking residents should press 2. To submit questions online, go to http://ncpoisoncontrol.org  and select Chat.