Background on the novel coronavirus:
The novel coronavirus was first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. On Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization named the disease coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses and are common in animals including camels, cattle, cats and bats. They are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted between animals and people. These animal coronaviruses can evolve into a new human coronavirus and infect people and then spread from person-to-person such as with MERS and SARS.
Watch for symptoms: People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
When to Seek Medical Attention: If you develop any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19 get medical attention 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 inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
How is it spread?
- People who are physically near (within 6 feet) a person with COVID-19 or have direct contact with that person are at greatest risk of infection.
- Infections occur mainly through exposure to respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space.
- Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission.
Older adults (65 years and older)
- Early data suggest older adults are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. This may be because immune systems change with age, making it harder to fight off diseases and infection. Older adults also are more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness.
Individuals with certain underlying medical conditions. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has consistently reported that the majority of people (92%) who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions. Hypertension and diabetes are the most common underlying health conditions among people who died from COVID-19. Neurologic conditions, cardiovascular disease and chronic renal disease are also common.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health highlights smoking as a risk factor for serious illness from COVID-19 because smoking harms every system in the body and causes both cardiovascular disease and pulmonary disease. People who smoke are two to four times more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 (i.e. requiring hospitalization, being admitted to the ICU, needing mechanical ventilation and dying) when compared to those who did not smoke. For more information and cessation resources, click here.
- People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
- Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Based on available information at this time, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
As new information becomes available, the CDC will update its website here.
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For more information on COVID-19, visit:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
California COVID-19 Response - covid19.ca.gov
California Department of Public Health
Los Angeles County COVID-19 Response - covid19.lacounty.gov
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
World Health Organization