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 County.
How Does COVID-19 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)
Shortness of breath
Repeated shaking with chills
New loss of taste and smell
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
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.
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
If you have one of the disability types listed below, you might be at increased risk of becoming infected or having unrecognized illness.
People who have limited mobility or who cannot avoid coming into close contact with others who may be infected, such as direct support providers and family members
People who have trouble understanding information or practicing preventive measures, such as hand washing and social distancing
People who may not be able to communicate symptoms of illness
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.
All essential workers regardless of symptoms. This includes:
Health care workers
Social service employees
Food supply workers
Other public employees
People who are either over 65 or have chronic underlying health conditions.
People in institutional congregate living settings, such as skilled nursing or long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, correctional institutions. (Although these groups will not primarily access testing in the County’s drive-up sites.)
How Do I Get Tested (if eligible)?
If you’re eligible for testing, you must make an appointment, in order to get tested. Follow the steps below:
You should stay home and self-isolate until the test results are back. See the guidance for home care that tells you how to take care of yourself while you are at home waiting for your test results.
If you were a contact to a suspected or positive case of COVID-19 you should remain in quarantine at your home and away from others until your results are back and then follow the guidance below based on what those results show.
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. It is important to note that if you were a contact to a suspected or positive case when you got tested you must remain in quarantine for the full 14 days even if your test results were negative.
Getting Care for COVID-19
What is the treatment for COVID-19?
From the international data we have, of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, approximately 80 percent do not exhibit symptoms that would require hospitalization. For patients who are more severely ill, hospitals can provide supportive care. We are continuing to learn more about this novel coronavirus and treatment may change over time.
What if I don’t have health insurance and I need screening or treatment for COVID-19?
How is it decided whether a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 can self-isolate at home or must be confined to a hospital or elsewhere?
Local health departments are working in partnership with the California Department of Public Health and the CDC, and making determinations on whether a person ill with COVID-19 requires hospitalization or if home isolation is appropriate. That decision may be based on multiple factors including severity of illness, need for testing, and appropriateness of home for isolation purposes.
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
All individuals who have been diagnosed with or who are likely to have COVID-19 must isolate themselves. These persons are required to follow all instructions in the Order and the Public Health guidance documents references in this order:
If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 in non-healthcare settings, follow this advice to protect yourself and others. Learn what to do when someone has symptoms of COVID-19 or when someone has been diagnosed with the virus. This information also pertains to people who have tested positive but are not showing symptoms.
Provide support and help cover basic needs
Help the person who is sick follow their doctor’s instructions for care and medicine.
For most people, symptoms last a few days and people feel better after a week.
See if over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, help the person feel better.
Make sure the person who is sick drinks a lot of fluids and rests.
Help them with grocery shopping, filling prescriptions, and getting other items they may need. Consider having the items delivered through a delivery service, if possible.
Take care of their pet(s), and limit contact between the person who is sick and their pet(s) when possible.
Protect yourself when caring for someone who is sick
COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets, created when someone talks, coughs or sneezes
Use a separate bedroom and bathroom: If possible, have the person who is sick stay in their own “sick room” or area and away from others. If possible, have the person who is sick use a separate bathroom.
Shared space: If you have to share space, make sure the room has good air flow.
Open the window and turn on a fan (if possible) to increase air circulation.
Improving ventilation helps remove respiratory droplets from the air.
Stay separated: The person who is sick should eat (or be fed) in their room, if possible.
Wash dishes and utensils using gloves and hot water: Handle any dishes, cups/glasses, or silverware used by the person who is sick with gloves. Wash them with soap and hot water or in a dishwasher.
Clean hands after taking off gloves or handling used items.
Avoid sharing personal items
Do not share: Do not share dishes, cups/glasses, silverware, towels, bedding, or electronics with the person who is sick.
When to wear a cloth face cover or gloves
Wear gloves when you touch or have contact with blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, mucus, vomit, and urine. Throw out gloves into a lined trash can.
A caregiver may wear a cloth face covering when caring for a person who is sick, however the protective effects (how well the cloth face covering protects healthy people from breathing in the virus) are unknown.
To prevent getting sick, make sure you practice everyday preventive actions: clean hands often, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose with unwashed hands, frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.
Clean your hands often
Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Tell everyone in the home to do the same, especially after being near the person who is sick.
Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Hands off: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Based on evidence suggesting a longer duration of culture-positive viral shedding, the CDC has extended the duration of isolation of persons with COVID-19 to at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms (or initial positive test for those without symptoms).
Symptom-based strategy Symptomatic patients with presumed or confirmed COVID-19 can be released from isolation when the following criteria have been met:
At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
Asymptomatic persons with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 may be released from isolation, barring the development of symptoms, 10 days after the initial positive PCR test. The CDC has named this the time-based strategy.
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.
Guidance Documents & Information
What You Should Know
These publications or sources of information are available in other languages by clicking here.
If you get sick, you might need to see a doctor by yourself. Your family or your caregiver can help you fill out a Health Passport to take with you. A Health Passport is a piece of paper that tells doctors about you, your medical needs, and how to keep you safe. (Source: DDS)