General Information

Updated April 14th 2020

CDC is responding to a pandemic of respiratory disease spreading from person-to-person caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The disease has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). This situation poses a serious public health risk. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this situation. COVID-19 can cause mild to severe illness; most severe illness occurs in older adults.

Situation in U.S.

Different parts of the country are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity. The United States nationally is in the initiation phase of the pandemic. States in which community spread is occurring are in the acceleration phase. The duration and severity of each pandemic phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.

CDC and state and local public health laboratories are testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. View CDC’s Public Health Laboratory Testing map.

All 50 states have reported cases of COVID-19 to CDC.

U.S. COVID-19 cases include:

    • Imported cases in travelers
    • Cases among close contacts of a known case
    • Community-acquired cases where the source of the infection is unknown.

Twenty-seven U.S. states are reporting some community spread of COVID-19.

View latest case counts, deaths, and a map of states with reported cases.

What Are Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Coronaviruses that infect people usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two other coronaviruses have caused severe disease: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) coronavirus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-Cov) coronavirus.

How Is COVID-19 Transmitted?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is being passed from person to person through respiratory secretions – the snot and spit that may spew when you cough or sneeze. Experts think that the virus can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces. For example, if you touch a doorknob or other surface that an infected person has touched or sneezed on then you touch your face, you could pick up the virus.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of infection include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The severity of symptoms range from mild to severe. In some cases, patients have died after COVID-19 infection.

What Should a Person Experiencing Symptoms Do?

If you have been in an area affected by COVID-19 or in close contact with someone who is infected in the last two weeks and show symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should::

Seek medical care right away by calling your or your child’s primary care provider. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel or exposure and your symptoms.

  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Avoid traveling when sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you have symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, have traveled recently or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, please call a medical provider immediately.

Do not go to a physician’s office, a health care facility or lab without consulting with them by phone to arrange for testing.

If you are severely ill and in need of immediate medical attention call 911 and inform them that you may have COVID-19.

How Can You Prevent COVID-19?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. There is currently no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. The CDC recommends that people avoid all nonessential travel. For the latest updates on travel recommendations visit: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

By cancelling large events and implementing social distancing, we can slow the spread of the disease and avoid overwhelming health care systems. Social distancing includes measures taken to increase the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Examples of social distancing include closing schools, cancelling mass gatherings, postponing conferences, working from home if possible and visiting friends and loved ones electronically rather than in person. Everyday preventive actions are essential to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including the flu and COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • How Dangerous Is COVID-19?

Experts are still learning a lot about COVID-19. Older people and people with health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes appear to be at higher risk for severe illness, according to the CDC.

The CDC and the World Health Organization are monitoring the situation closely. You can find regular updates about the latest travel warnings and health-related information here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing up-to-date information on COVID-19 at the links below.

CDC Fact Sheet: What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19):

CDC Fact Sheet: What to do if you’re sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19):

CDC Frequently Asked Questions about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19):


Please click here for more information from the CDC.


Information provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/

How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering

Cloth face coverings should—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

CDC on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.