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A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.
The virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet, or 2 arm lengths). It spreads through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.
These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Droplets can also land on surfaces and objects and be transferred by touch. A person may get COVID-19 by touching the surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.
Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.
In general, reinfection means a person was infected (got sick) once, recovered, and then later became infected again. Based on what we know from similar viruses, some reinfections are expected.
It is currently unknown how long COVID-19 immunity lasts after the initial infection with disease.
For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more without a face mask. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.
Contact tracing has been used for decades by state and local health departments to slow or stop the spread of infectious diseases.
Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by:
Letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested.
Asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
During contact tracing, the health department will ask for your demographic information, symptom onset and improvement dates, close contacts, and medical background. Discussions with health department staff are confidential. This means that your personal and medical information will be kept private and only shared with those who may need to know, like your health care provider.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, your name will not be shared with those you came in contact with. The health department will only notify people you were in close contact with that they might have been exposed to COVID-19.
Information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on the following