Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Facts and Details
Updated December 2021
What is COVID-19?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel (new) coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. SARS-CoV-2 causes the human respiratory illness coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. Seven sub-groups are known to infect people, including several that cause the common cold. MERS-CoV (which causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), SARS-CoV (which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome), and the 2019 novel coronavirus infect animals and have evolved to make people sick.
How common is COVID-19?
Over 250 million COVID-19 cases have been identified globally with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States, with most cases being linked to community spread.
How do people become infected?
Similar to other coronaviruses, COVID-19 is spread by droplets from an infected person’s nose or mouth through coughing, sneezing, and talking.
A person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by aerosolized droplets produced by talking.
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
Reports show that COVID-19 causes mild to severe respiratory illness. Some patients have developed pneumonia, and some people have died from the infection. COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Chills or shivering
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Fatigue or feeling more tired than normal
After exposure, COVID-19 symptoms typically appear within 14 days.
Some people may experience post-COVID conditions (commonly called long-haul COVID), which are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that happen four or more weeks after first being infected.
How long can a person spread COVID-19?
Someone with COVID-19 may be contagious from two days before they show symptoms until 10 days after symptom onset or 72 hours after symptoms stop, whichever is longer.
Who is at risk for COVID-19?
People of any age, even children, can become infected with COVID-19. Adults are most affected and people over age 60, adults who also have other health conditions, and those who are not vaccinated are at greater risk for severe illness.
How is COVID-19 treated?
COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t work. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one drug, Remdesivir, to treat COVID-19 in certain situations. Most people with mild coronavirus illness will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications. However, some people have developed pneumonia and require medical care or hospitalization.
How can you prevent COVID-19?
At this time, there are three vaccines for COVID-19 in the United States. One is manufactured by Pfizer (Comirnaty), and another is manufactured by Moderna. Each need two doses from the same manufacturer. The third vaccine is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and requires just one dose. The vaccine provider will give individuals information at the time of immunization.
Currently, the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine is authorized for anyone over age 5 years, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for anyone over age 18 years.
You can prevent infection by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Don’t share drinking cups or utensils with other people
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between you and others
- Stay home when you are sick
- Homemade masks/face coverings may be another tool along with the above prevention measures to keep people from unknowingly spreading the virus.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine for yourself and family members. To find a vaccine clinic near you, visit https://vaccines.gov/search/ and enter your ZIP Code.
Mandatory quarantines in due to travel with high COVID-19 community transmission areas can be found at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/175/Travel-Exposure-Related-Isolation-Quaran.
For More Information:
Sedgwick County Health Department Epidemiology Program
1900 E. 9th St.
Wichita, KS 67214