For a comprehensive look at COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (abbreviated “COVID-19” by the World Health Organization) was first detected in China and has since spread around the world. This disease, which is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is very contagious and dangerous; most people who contract COVID-19 experience mild respiratory symptoms, while some people may become severely ill or die from COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) publicly characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. COVID-19 has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States since early 2020. People with certain underlying medical conditions and older adults are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
As of July 2021, there are four notable variants of COVID-19 in the United States: B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma) and B.1.617.2 (Delta). Studies and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that current authorized vaccines are effective against these variants. Research on COVID-19 variants is ongoing.
Three COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson / Janssen – have been authorized and recommended in the United States. All of these vaccines are safe and are effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death. Everyone age 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and these vaccines are free for everyone living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.
Watch for 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:
- 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
This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.
How to Prevent the Spread COVID-19
- Get vaccinated against COVID-19. Everyone age 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a lined trashcan.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care. Call your health care provider ahead of time.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Am I eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Yes; everyone age 12 and older is now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Visit the Sanford Health website for more information and to schedule an appointment, or visit Vaccines.gov to find a provider near you that carries COVID-19 vaccines.
Is there a treatment?
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.
What should I do if I’m sick with COVID-19?
Stay home except to get medical care.
You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
Animals: Do not handle pets or other animals while sick. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask. See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.
Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
If you have a medical appointment, call the health care provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the health care provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
Wear a facemask.
You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a health care provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
Avoid sharing personal household items.
You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.
Clean your hands often.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day.
High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Monitor your symptoms
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). Before seeking care, call your health care provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for, COVID-19. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility.
Ask your health care provider to call the local or state health department. Persons who are placed under active monitoring or facilitated self-monitoring should follow instructions provided by their local health department or occupational health professionals, as appropriate.
If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive.
Discontinuing home isolation
Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low. The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with health care providers and state and local health departments.