Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Basics

  • COVID-19 Background Information

    What Is COVID-19?

    • COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people can become severely ill. Although most people with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, some people experience post-COVID conditions. Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Older people and those who have certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and effective.
  • Signs & symptoms

    How Does COVID-19 Spread?

    • COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

      COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:

      • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
      • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
      • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

    What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19?

    • People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms – from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19.

      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

      When should I seek emergency care if I have COVID-19?

    • Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately

      • 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

      *This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

    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.