What are coronaviruses? What is COVID-19?

CDC Link to COVID-19 Information

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. First identified in Wuhan, China, and is now being spread throughout the world.  People are encouraged to take common-sense precautions to prevent the spread of all infectious diseases. 

What precautions should I take?

Take the same precautions that you would use for the seasonal flu (influenza). 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose; throw it in the trash, not your pocket
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched such as doorknobs, computer, laptops, and cell phones
  • Wear a face covering when out in public
  • For the general public, CDC recommends wearing gloves when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick.

Who is considered a high-risk individual?

  • People age 65 and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions include:
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have heart disease with complications
  • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
  • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index greater than 40) or
  • certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled,
  • such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk

How does COVID-19 spread?

CDC Link to Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities

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.  

Help up prevent the spread of such a virus:

  • Keeping your child home if they have had a fever, used fever-reducing medication, or experienced symptoms of illness within the past 24 hours
  • Stay home when you are sick with a fever, using fever-reducing medication, or experiencing symptoms of illness within the last 24 hours
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Wear a cloth face covering when out in public

Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:

  • It is recommended to  wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
  • CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
  • How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering
Side view of an individual wearing a cloth face covering, which conceals their mouth and nose areas and has a string looped behind the visible ear to hold the covering in place. The top of the covering is positioned just below the eyes and the bottom extends down to cover the chin. The visible side of the covering extends to cover approximately half of the individual’s cheek.

Cloth face coverings should—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?

Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.

How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?

Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

Sewn face cover

No sew face cover

When to wear gloves

For the general public, CDC recommends wearing gloves when you are cleaning or caring for someone who is sick.

In most other situations, like running errands, wearing gloves is not necessary. Instead, practice everyday preventive actions like keeping social distance (at least 6 feet) from others, washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol), and wearing a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.

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When cleaning:

When you are routinely cleaning and disinfecting your home.

  • Follow precautions listed on the disinfectant product label, which may include-
    • wearing gloves (reusable or disposable) and
    • having good ventilation by turning on a fan or opening a window to get fresh air into the room you’re cleaning.
  • Wash your hands after you have removed the gloves.
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When caring for someone who is sick:

If you are providing care to someone who is sick at home or in another non-healthcare setting

  • Use disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting the area around the person who is sick or other surfaces that may be frequently touched in the home.
  • Use disposable gloves when touching or having contact with blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, mucus, vomit, and urine.
  • After using disposable gloves, throw them out in a lined trash can. Do not disinfect or reuse the gloves.
  • Wash your hands after you have removed the gloves.
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When gloves aren’t needed

Wearing gloves outside of these instances (for example, when using a shopping cart or using an ATM) will not necessarily protect you from getting COVID-19 and may still lead to the spread of germs. The best way to protect yourself from germs when running errands and after going out is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

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What are the Symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.


What if I’ve been exposed?

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, you may need to seek medical attention. Call your doctor or medical provider for further guidance. Before going to a health care provider, clinic, hospital or emergency room, call ahead to describe your symptoms and how you may have been exposed to the virus. 

In the event of an emergency, please call 9-1-1. Let the dispatcher know that you think you have been exposed to COVID-19.  

What is the difference between self-monitoring, isolation, and quarantine?

These are protective measures used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people who may have been exposed.


Are for those that may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, and they should monitor themselves for symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If they develop symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath) during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether a medical evaluation is needed.


Are for people who were exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms.


Is to separate people who are sick from those who are well. The people who test positive for COVID 19 in North Carolina are in placed in isolation.


The print materials and resources below are available for downloading and printing.

Share Facts About COVID-19: English

What you need to know: EnglishSpanishSimplified Chinese

What to do if you are sick: EnglishSpanishSimplified Chinese

Stop the spread of germs: EnglishSpanishSimplified Chinese

Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):
 EnglishSpanishSimplified Chinese

CDC Protect and Prepares Communities: English

Stay Healthy Wash Your Hands: 
8.5 X 11- EnglishSpanish.
11 X 17- EnglishSpanish

Wash Your Hands: EnglishSpanishFrenchArabicBengaliChinesePortuguese, Urdu

Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands: 
8.5 X 11EnglishSpanishFrenchArabicBengaliChinese.
11 X 17- EnglishSpanishFrenchArabicBengaliChinese