General Information on COVID-19

Current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) information on COVID-19.

Schools must be ready both in providing a safe and healthy school environment as well as what to do in the event of a school closure. The following article COVID-19 Preparing for Widespread Illness in Your School Community provides a checklist for school leaders

CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

At this time most people in the United States have little immediate risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. However, many worry about the disease. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma towards Chinese or other Asian Americans. Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease (for example, Chinese-Americans and other Asian-Americans living in the United States).

Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. We can fight stigma and help not hurt others by providing social support. We can communicate the facts that being Chinese or Asian American does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.

People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are NOT at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.

  • Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.
  • People from affected countries that live in the U.S. may be worried or anxious about friends and relatives who are living in the region. Facing stigma can make fear and anxiety worsen. Social support during this outbreak can help them cope.

You can help counter stigma during the COVID-19 response.

  • Maintain privacy and confidentiality of those seeking health care and those who may be part of any contact investigation.
  • Timely communication of the risk or lack of risk from associations with products, people, and places.
  • Raise awareness about COVID-19 without increasing fear.
  • Share accurate information about how the virus spreads.
  • Speak out against negative behaviors, including negative statements on social media about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk from regular activities.
  • Be cautious about the images that are shared. Make sure they do not reinforce stereotypes.
  • Engage with stigmatized groups in person and through media channels including news media and social media.
  • Share the need for social support for people who have returned from China or are worried about friends or relatives in the affected region.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects

It may be possible that 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, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Information is current as of February 25, 2020