What is it?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people, and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Rarely animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people.
Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world, including some that cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. However, COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
People with COVID-19 have shown a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
For more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) symptoms page.
COVID-19 mainly spreads through close contact from person to person, including between people who are physically near each other (within about 6 feet). It is important to note that even if you do not exhibit symptoms, you can still spread the virus to others. Public health experts are still learning more about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes. To learn more about transmission, and how to protect yourself and your family, please visit the CDC website transmission page.
It's important to prepare for a situation where you or a loved one may become ill. These simple actions are useful for all types of illnesses but are increasingly important given the prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities.
- Families should have an action plan that identifies individual needs that must be met if a 14-day isolation period is required. This includes obtaining appropriate food, prescription medications, non-prescription medications like cold and flu aids, and any other items family members may need for physical or emotional support while ill. If you are caring for grandparents or older adults, keep an eye out for symptoms like difficulty breathing, confusion, or pressure in their chest.
- Families should know the plans of organizations (schools, work, etc.) in your community, and have back-up childcare plans if childcare centers or schools are closed for an extended period of time. Families should also identify a room in their house that can be used for isolation if a family member becomes ill.
- Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation from public health officials and other credible sources like the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or the State of Illinois Coronavirus response website https://coronavirus.illinois.gov.
- Nursing mothers who have laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or are being tested for COVID-19 should decide whether to continue breastfeeding in coordination with family members and healthcare providers. If continuing, take all possible precautions, including washing your hands, breast pump, and/or bottle parts before and after each use and wearing a face mask while feeding your baby. Consider having someone who is not sick feed expressed milk to the infant.
- It is critical to get tested before developing symptoms, as testing remains free to all Illinois residents and readily available throughout the state. To find the nearest testing center, please visit DPH.Illinois.Gov/Testing.
View additional recommendations from the CDC Household Checklist.
Your healthcare provider will decide on what approach to take for your treatment. There are drugs that have shown some benefit in reducing the severity of illness or risk of death for patients in the hospital by:
- Slowing the virus. Antiviral medications reduce the ability of the virus to multiply and spread through the body.
- Reducing an overactive immune response. In patients with severe COVID-19, the body’s immune system may overreact to the threat of the virus, worsening the disease. This can cause damage to the body’s organs and tissues. Some treatments can help reduce this overactive immune response.
- Dexamethasone is a steroid medication, similar to a natural hormone produced by the body. The NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines on Corticosteroids recommend Dexamethasone, or a similar medication, to prevent or reduce injury to the body for some hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Dexamethasone is recommended for patients who need supplemental oxygen.
- Treating complications. COVID-19 can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs. It also can cause other complications. Depending on the complications, additional treatments might be used for severely ill hospitalized patients, such as blood thinners to prevent or treat blood clots. Supporting the body’s immune function. Plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19—called convalescent plasma—can contain antibodies to the virus. This could help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus, but currently, the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines on Convalescent Plasma find there is not enough evidence to recommend these treatments.
- Take pain and fever medications
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Stay home and rest
- Situation update: Get up to date information on the severity, reach and reaction at the national level.
- Information for Travelers: If you are planning a trip or having family/friends visit please review these travel notes from the CDC and be aware of precautions and additional steps being put into place.
- K-12 and Childcare Program Preparation: If you are an educator or have a child in school or childcare these recommendations will apply and help reduce the likelihood of infection and spread.
- College and University Preparation: College and University students and faculty can learn information and methods to prepare for any issues which may arise during this time.
- Other preparation steps and guidelines: For more venue and handling instructions about preparedness and national recommendations.