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COVID-19 Information Center

The Basics of COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an illness caused by a virus that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has spread throughout the world. COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild (or no symptoms) to severe illness.

How is COVID-19 spread?

You can become infected by coming into close contact (about 6 feet or two arm lengths) with a person who has COVID-19. COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person. You can become infected from respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. You may also be able to get it by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19

  • Stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact with others.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth in public settings.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Talk to your doctor about COVID vaccination.

Practice social distancing

  • When possible, buy groceries, medicine, and other necessities online and have them delivered.
  • If you must go in person, stay at least 6 feet away from others and disinfect items you must touch.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home.

Know your risk for severe illness

Everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more severe illness.

What does it mean if I have a positive test result?

If you have a positive test result, it's very likely that you have COVID-19. Therefore, you should self-isolate to prevent spreading the virus to others. There is a very small chance that this test can give a false positive result. Your healthcare provider will work with you to decide the best treatment plan based on your test results, current symptoms, and medical history.

What does it mean if I have a negative test result?

A negative test result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. Any symptoms of COVID-19 that this individual may have experienced were likely caused by something else.

However, it is possible for this test to give a false negative result in some people with COVID-19. This means that you could possibly still have COVID-19, even though the test is negative.

If this is the case, your healthcare provider will consider the test result together with all other aspects of your medical history (including symptoms, and recent travel) in deciding how to care for you. It is important that you work with your healthcare provider to help you understand your next steps.

What should I do if I test positive?

  • Notify your close contacts and let them know they should quarantine at home for 14 days from their last date of exposure to you. Your household members should quarantine the entire time you are in isolation at home plus an additional 14 days after you are released from isolation (if they had ongoing exposure to you in the home).
  • Self-isolate in your home until each of the following conditions are met:
  1. At least 1 day (24 hours) has passed since recovery. (reduction of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in symptoms).
  2. At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  • If your symptoms get worse or if you require hospitalization, notify your healthcare provider immediately and follow instructions about wearing a mask when you arrive at the facility.
  • If you do not need hospitalization, continue to self-isolate at home.

What do I do if my test comes out negative?

  • If you had a known exposure to a confirmed case, continue to quarantine until 14 days after your exposure.
  • If you were tested but had no known exposure to a confirmed case, and you are asymptomatic, you can stop your self-quarantine.
  • If you were tested but had no known exposure to a confirmed case, and you are symptomatic, you may have another respiratory pathogen that is circulating in the community. Avoid work and group settings until three days after the last day of your respiratory symptoms and fever.

When should I seek medical attention?

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face


* This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

For more information please take a look at the FAQ Page.
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FAQ Page