What is the Coronavirus Disease 2019?

The novel coronavirus is a new type of virus that recently started making people sick. It started in mainland China but is now infecting people around the world including those here in Los Angeles.

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

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.
  • May also spread through airborne transmission, when tiny droplets remain in the air even after the person with the virus leaves the area.

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 contaminated 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.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

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

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Fever (above 100.4 F)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Who is at Higher Risk?

Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could 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 [(BM]I)≥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
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications

What Should I Do If I Think I Am Sick?

Call ahead: If you feel ill and it is NOT an emergency, call your primary care or specialty care provider, or an urgent care center, and describe your symptoms over the phone before going to any of these locations. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a fever, a cough or shortness of breath?
  • Have you had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus? (Close contact means having been within 6 feet of that person for an extended time, or being exposed to their cough or sneeze.)

If available, you may be able to request a phone or video visit with a nurse or your provider instead of going in-person. You can also complete a Coronavirus Symptom Self-Checker (made available by the CDC).

For more severe symptoms, such as higher fever and severe shortness of breath, you may be advised to call 911 or go to the emergency department.

Los Angeles residents can also call 211 LA County for any questions, concerns or information.

Testing for COVID-19

Who should be tested

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Here is some information that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.

  • Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
  • There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.
  • Testing results may be helpful to inform decision-making about who you come in contact with.

CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.

How to get tested

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your state or local health department or a medical provider. While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.

What to do after you are tested

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, see If You Are Sick or Caring for Someone.
  • If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your specimen was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. It is possible that you were very early in your infection at the time of your specimen collection and that you could test positive later, or you could be exposed later and then develop illness. In other words, a negative test result does not rule out getting sick later.

Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 If You Are Sick

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community. (Call your doctor if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or difficulty breathing.)
  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home, this is known as home isolation
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick or if you are caring for others
  • Cover your cough and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms

Caring For Someone at Home

Most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have only mild illness and should recover at home.* Care at home can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and help protect people who are at risk for getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

If you are caring for someone at home, monitor for emergency signsprevent the spread of germstreat symptoms, and carefully consider when to end home isolation.

*Note: Older adults and people of any age with certain serious underlying medical conditions like lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness and should seek care as soon as symptoms start.

When To End Home Isolation

People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (are home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:

  • If they will not have a test to determine if they are still contagious, they can leave home after these three things have happened:
    • They have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
      AND
    • other symptoms have improved (for example, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved)
      AND
    • at least 7 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared
  • If they will be tested to determine if they are still contagious, they can leave home after these three things have happened:
    • They no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
      AND
    • other symptoms have improved (for example, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved)
      AND
    • They received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Their doctor will follow CDC guidelines.

What should I do if I am unable to work due to COVID-19?

Individuals who are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim.

Disability Insurance provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50 – $1,300 a week.

Californians who are unable to work because they are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional) can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim.

Paid Family Leave provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligibile workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week.

For more information related to resources for California’s Employers and Workers, please visit this Labor and Workforce Development Agency webpage. 

What Is Social Distancing?

Social distancing is a practice recommended by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of contagious diseases. Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19.

Racial Profiling & Misinformation Based on Fear of the Outbreak

It is important to remember that people – including those of Asian descent – who do not live in or have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, or have not been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.

If you have been the victim of or witness to an act of violence, bullying, harassment, threat, or other act motivated by hate, please fill out the Hate Incident Report Form or call 2-1-1 to file a report and be connected to support services.

Additional Resources