About COVID-19 COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a virus (SARS-CoV-2). It is very contagious and can easily spread. COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have had a wide range of symptoms reported – from mild symptoms to severe illness. It sometimes feels like a cold or flu, but it can also harm other parts of the body. Some people – like older adults and people with underlying medical conditions – are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines offer the best protection. The safe, effective vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. Find your spot to take your shot Version en Español Latest Updates Symptoms Testing Treatment Variants NC COVID-19 Dashboard What are variants? Viruses are always changing (mutating) and new variants (or strains) of a virus are expected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking variants, including Omicron. The best way to slow the emergence of new variants is to reduce the spread of infection by taking measures to protect yourself, including getting vaccinated. What do I need to know about symptoms? What are the symptoms? COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Some people have no symptoms. Others have symptoms ranging from mild to severe leading to hospitalization or death. Even people who do not have symptoms at first can experience long-term complications. Some symptoms last four or more weeks. Even mild COVID-19 can cause long-term shortness of breath, chest pain and brain fog. Some people with COVID-19 may not have symptoms, but they can still spread it to other people. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. How do I know if I have long COVID? What should I do if I'm sick? Experiencing symptoms? Get tested Did you test positive? Find treatment Follow CDC guidance on quarantine and isolation if you: Are sick with COVID-19. Believe you might have COVID-19. Are experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19. Were exposed to COVID-19 and you are not vaccinated against it. Are showing symptoms after exposure to COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated. Seek emergency medical care if you experience: Trouble breathing Persistent pain or pressure in the chest New confusion Inability to wake or stay awake Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone In the event of an emergency, call 911. How can I protect myself and others? We now have a robust toolbox to manage our risk from COVID-19: Get vaccinated for the best protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death. The risk is much higher for people who are not vaccinated. Wear a tight-fitting mask for an extra layer of protection. Wash your hands often and wait six feet from others. Get tested if you feel sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. And if you test positive, treatments are available. NCDHHS has updated its COVID-19 dashboard to reflect the best metrics for this stage of the pandemic. As trends rise and fall, you can choose to add layers of protection to mitigate your risk. Find wellness resources.