About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, is a type of virus that has only spread in people since December 2019. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus.

What is COVID-19?

Although this particular "novel" viral variant is new, Coronaviruses as a group have been known to science since the late 1930's and are recognized to cause 15-30% of all winter "common colds", and it is likely that every adult in the world has been infected with at least one common cold-causing Coronavirus at some point in their lives.

The term “novel” is used to describe a virus that enters a new species (animal or human) in whose population the virus does not normally circulate.

Experts are still learning about the range of illness from novel coronavirus. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization. So far, deaths have been reported mainly in older adults who had other health conditions.

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For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. These symptoms may appear two to fourteen days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

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Health experts are still learning the details about how this new coronavirus spreads. Other coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The air by coughing and sneezing.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • In rare cases, contact with feces.

Learn more at CDC website


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OHA officials continue to recommend people in Oregon take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of many respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.
  • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.

Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US.​

Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent novel coronavirus infections.