Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Basics

  • COVID-19 Background Information

    There is currently an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    The virus was first detected in China and has now been detected across the globe, including in the United States. COVID-19 usually causes mild disease such as fever and cough, but can cause severe symptoms such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6ft) or through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes.

  • Signs & symptoms

    What Is COVID-19?

    • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, and has now been detected across the globe, including in the United States and Long Beach.
    • Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and humans. Most human coronaviruses cause only mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold.
    • Novel coronaviruses like COVID-19 can cause serious and widespread illness and death because the new pathogen is not yet recognized by individuals' immune systems.

    How Does COVID-19 Spread?

    • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6ft) or through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes.

    What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19?

    • Some people may be asymptomatic, which means they are infected with the virus, but not experiencing symptoms.
    • Others may experience mild illness. *Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure, and may include:
      • Fever or chills
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Fatigue
      • Muscle or body aches
      • Headache
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Sore throat
      • Congestion or runny nose
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Diarrhea
    • If you develop any of these emergency warning signs* for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:
      • Trouble breathing
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion
      • Inability to wake or stay awake
      • Bluish lips or face

    *These lists are not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

    Use the CDC's Symptom Self-Checker


     Who is at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness?

    • Adults 65 years or older
    • People in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
    • People of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions including:
      • Asthma
      • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
      • Chronic lung disease
      • Diabetes
      • Hemoglobin Disorders
      • Immunocompromised
      • Liver disease
      • Serious heart conditions
      • Severe obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
      • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
      • Sickle cell disease
      • Cerebrovascular disease
      • Hypertension or high blood pressure
      • Neurological symptoms
      • Pregnancy
      • Smoking
      • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
      • Children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic
        conditions, or who have congenital heart disease are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children
    • It’s important that people who are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness take special precautions to reduce their risk of getting sick.
      • Limit your interactions with other people as much as possible.
      • Take precautions to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others.
      • If you start feeling sick and think you may have COVID-19, get in touch with your healthcare provider within 24 hours.
      • On March 15, 2020, Governor Newsom recommended that those aged 65 and older and those with chronic conditions should reduce their risk of COVID-19 by self-isolating at home.
      • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay away from large gatherings and crowds.
      • Stay home as much as possible.
      • Consider ways of getting food and supplies brought to your house through family, social, or commercial networks.
    • Useful links
    • Everyone should reach out (call, don’t visit) at-risk family members, friends, and neighbors to ensure they have what they need. Learn how to help.

    Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

    • Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a new health condition associated with COVID-19 that is appearing in some children. View MIS-C for more information. (Spanish) (Khmer) (Tagalog

  • Prevention

    What Can I Do To Prevent Spreading The Virus?

    • Wash hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you or household members are sick.
    • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, bannisters, and countertops. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
    • Practice physical distancing.
    • If you are not vaccinated, wear a Face Covering any time you are within 6 feet of anyone you do not live with. 

    What Is Physical Distancing?

    • Physical distancing is a practice individuals can proactively do to prevent becoming infected from others in public who may be infected. Individuals who are not vaccinated should practice physical distancing in order to prevent becoming infected.
    • Physical distancing means remaining out of crowded, congregate settings where close contact with others may occur, such as shopping centers, movie theaters, and stadiums, and avoiding mass gatherings.
    • Physical distancing also means maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
  • What to do if you are sick or have been exposed to the virus

    Order to Self-Quarantine

    • Quarantine is used by public health professionals to separate potentially exposed individuals from the public, in the case that they become symptomatic and contagious to others. Quarantined people are asked to limit their contact with others and may be excluded from work or school. Should they begin exhibiting symptoms, they may be required to isolate.
    • Anyone who has had close contact with someone who has or is likely to have COVID-19 while the person was infectious (during the time when they had symptoms or 48 hours before the person's symptoms began) is required to self-quarantine in a residence for a minimum of 7 days, and monitor closely for symptoms for 14 days after last exposure to the infectious person. Quarantined people should isolate themselves immediately if they begin experiencing symptoms.
    • Close Contact to someone who has or is likely to have COVID-19 is defined as a person who meets any of the following conditions:
      • Lives with or frequents the household where someone with or likely to have COVID-19 resides
      • Is an intimate partner of someone with or likely to have COVID-19
      • Is a caregiver for someone with or likely to have COVID-19
      • Has had any contact with someone with or likely to have COVID-19 while they were symptomatic, including anyone who:
        • Was within 6 feet of someone with or likely to have COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes OR
        • Had unprotected direct contact to secretions or excretions (sneeze or cough) of someone with or likely to have COVID-19
    • Everyone who meets the above conditions must adhere to the requirements outlined in the Home Quarantine Guidance for Close Contacts to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (Spanish) (Khmer) (Tagalog).

    Order to Self-Isolate

    • Isolation means separating a person that is sick in order to prevent them from spreading the virus to others. People may be asked to self-isolate at home while they are being tested, while they recover, or they may be isolated in a healthcare setting if they need medical support to recover.
    • Anyone with or likely to have COVID-19 is required to self-isolate for at least ten (10) days after symptoms first appeared, and at least 1 day (24 hours) after fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications, and other symptoms have improved. If you never had symptoms, then you must self isolate for 10 days from the date of your positive test.
    • Anyone required to isolate may not leave their place of isolation or enter any other public or private place, except to receive necessary medical care. Furthermore, anyone in self-isolation is required to notify any close contacts of their potential exposure so they may self-quarantine.
    • For the purpose of the Isolation Order, someone with or likely to have COVID-19 is defined as a person who has:
      • A positive lab test for COVID-19;
      • Signs and symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days of being in close contact with a person who had or was believed to have had COVID-19; OR
      • Been informed by a physician that they are likely to have COVID-19
    • Any person who meets the above conditions must adhere to the requirements outlined in the Home Isolation Instructions for People with Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) Infection (Spanish) (Khmer) (Tagalog).
  • Prepare an emergency kit

    • The current situation does not necessitate additional preparation beyond standard emergency preparedness. However, you should do what you can to limit unnecessary trips.
    • Households should always be prepared in the case of a natural disaster. has a list of recommended items to prepare, including:
      • Store a two week supply of food, and other important items you rely on, including food for any pets you may have.
      • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
      • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
    • In preparing households, people should take what they need. Overbuying creates a shortage for others.
  • Take care of your emotional health

    There’s a lot going on. How do I deal with everything?

    • We are dealing with a situation that can be stressful and scary. It’s important to know that it’s normal to have reactions like fear, anxiety, or stress.
    • If you need to speak with someone, you can call the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Access Center 24/7 Helpline at (800) 854-7771.
    • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has developed tips for dealing with stress during disease outbreaks like COVID-19. See their Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreak guide for information on recognizing signs of stress, and tips for staying healthy during outbreaks.