About COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a dangerous disease caused by a virus discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, SARS-CoV-2. It is very contagious and has quickly spread around the world.

COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that feel like a cold or flu, but COVID-19 can also harm other parts of the body.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by talking, coughing or sneezing, or through touching your nose, mouth, or eyes after touching a contaminated surface without washing your hands first.

The best way to protect yourself and your community is to get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Learn about additional ways to protect yourself and your community from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses.

What are COVID-19 variants?

Viruses, including COVID-19, mutate and change constantly, which can lead to the emergence of new variants with different characteristics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking emerging variants – including the Delta variant, which seems to be more dangerous to those who are unvaccinated and is rapidly spreading in North Carolina and across the country.

The CDC has classified some emerging variants of COVID-19, including Delta variant, as variants of concern due to evidence of an increase in transmissibility, disease severity, or evidence of impact on diagnostics, treatments, vaccines or natural immunity.


Symptoms of COVID-19 and its variants are fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

The CDC recommends you stay home and separate yourself from other people in the home as much as possible if:

  • You are sick with COVID-19.
  • You believe you might have COVID-19.
  • You are experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone who has COVID-19, unless you are fully vaccinated, or if you are fully vaccinated but are now showing symptoms of the virus.

Seek emergency medical care immediately if you have trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; or pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone. In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1.

How can I protect myself and others?

Vaccines are the best protection from COVID-19 related hospitalizations, deaths and complications from the virus. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people getting and spreading COVID-19. In addition, there are some common-sense measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you should continue to take steps to protect yourself and others, including practicing the 3 Ws – wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and wait 6 feet from others.

Monitor your health and be alert for COVID-19 symptoms. Get tested if you develop symptoms.