COVID-19 Symptoms and Prevention

April 09, 2020

Symptoms of COVID-19

So far, patients with COVID-19 have often had mild to severe breathing problems and fever.  Symptoms can include:

How COVID-19 Spreads

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from in infected person to person:

  • Respiratory droplets
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
  • Close person contact (within about 6 feet)
    • touching
    • shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your face before washing your hands
  • Rarely, fecal contamination

People are thought to be most contagious (can spread the disease) when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).  Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.  There have been reports of this with the new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19


There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent COVID-19.  The best way to prevent infection is to take steps to avoid exposure to this virus, which are like the steps you take to avoid the flu.

You should follow the prevention steps below until a health care provider or health department says you can return to your regular activities:

  1. Separate yourself from other people in your home

As much as you can, try to stay in one room or area of your home, away from other people.  Use a separate bathroom, if possible.

  1. Take care of your mental health 

You might be feeling nervous, anxious, afraid, lonely, or uncertain.  If you need mental health support right now, you can call the Harris Center’s COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line at 833-251-7544.  Additionally, the website below contains tips for taking care of your emotional health while you are isolated

  1. Wear a face mask 

If you have one, you should wear a cloth face covering when you are around other people (for example, if you share a room with somebody else or when going into public).  Also, wear a cloth face covering around pets and before you go into a clinic or provider’s office.  If you do not have a cloth face covering, stay at least 6 feet away from other people if you can. Surgical masks and N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers.

  1. Cover your coughs and sneezes

Use tissues, toilet tissue, napkins, or paper towels to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.  If you do not have something to sneeze in right away, cover your mouth with your arm (at the bend).  Throw away used tissues into a trash can with a liner or trash bag in it.

  1. Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap at water for at least 20 seconds.  Wash your hands many times a day, including before and after eating, using the restroom, touching heavily-soiled areas, making physical contact with another person or pet, or touching a surface that other people touch often.

Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.  Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub together until they feel dry.  Use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

  1. Avoid touching your face

Viruses that affect your breathing enter your body through your nose, eyes, and mouth.  Avoid touching your face to help prevent getting sick.

  1. Clean all high-touch surfaces every day

High-touch surfaces include counters, tabletop, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phone, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

  1. Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses or cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home.  After using these items, they should be washed completely with soap and water.

  1. Practice social distancing

Stay at least 6 feet away from other people to avoid catching or spreading illness. Avoid crowds (such as weddings or large group meetings). Minimize physical contact (such as handshakes).

See the CDC website for more information on what you can do at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19: