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What is Coronavirus or COVID-19?

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus not previously seen in humans that is spreading quickly worldwide. Four other strains of coronavirus are actually very common and usually only cause mild symptoms (like the common cold). However, some strains, like COVID-19, can cause severe illness in certain groups. For example, older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. There’s currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19.

How Can I Protect Myself?

The best way to protect yourself from contracting coronaviruses is by using the same daily habits that help prevent the spread of many viruses, including the common cold and the flu. To help prevent the spread of disease always:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Wash with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you’re sick (and keep sick children home from school).
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Social Distancing

At Home

  • Create a household plan of action and define how you family members can come together to support each other and maintain healthy practices.
  • Immediately cancel social get-togethers beyond your immediate family.
  • This is not a vacation. School-age children must eliminate social gatherings. They’re an integral part of the solution.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
  • Friends and family are just a phone call away. Use digital connections and check-ins with those close to you. Facetime, text, video chats are excellent ways to stay connected and feel involved in your network.
  • Plan ways to care for your immediate and extended family who might be at greatest risk for serious complications. Identify ways to support them while keeping them home – crowdsource grocery shopping, food delivery, and medication.
  • Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, health care services, support, and resources. Consider including organizations that provide mental health or counseling services, food, and other supplies.
  • Create an emergency contact list. Include contacts for family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources. If your children are in the care of others, urge caregivers to watch for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick. Learn how to care for someone with COVID-19 at home.
  • Take care of the emotional health of your household members. Outbreaks can be stressful for adults and children. Children respond differently to stressful situations than adults. Talk with your children about the outbreak, try to stay calm, and reassure them that they are safe.

In Public

  • Your entire family should stay home as much as possible.
  • Do not leave the house if you are sick. Seek medical attention via phone or virtual means whenever possible.
  • Avoid gathering in public places.
  • If you must go out, limit your time.
  • Be very cautious about initiating contact with new people or lingering in any public spaces.
  • Avoid contact with public surfaces.
  • Disinfect your hands thoroughly and often.
  • Visit public locations off-peak hours.



Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Tiredness (sometimes)
  • Aches and pains (sometimes)
  • Headaches (sometimes)
  • Sore throat (sometimes)

Upper respiratory symptoms, like runny nose and sinus congestion, are very uncommon in COVID-19.

The severity of COVID-19 symptoms ranges from mild to severe. If you’ve had recent close contact with a COVID-19 patient or you’ve traveled recently to an area where COVID-19 is active, it may be more likely that your symptoms are due to COVID-19. If you suspect you have COVID-19, call Intermountain Healthcare’s 24-hour hotline, Health Answers, at 844-442-5224 or use Connect Care on your smartphone, tablet, or computer to connect online with an Intermountain clinician who can review your symptoms and give specific care recommendations. If your symptoms are mild you will likely be directed to stay home to protect others from illness and follow the CDC’s recommended guidance for self-care. If you’re referred to a medical facility, remember to call ahead and let them know your symptoms before you go in.

What Do I Do if I think I'm Sick?

According to the CDC's recommendation, if you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, you should take steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Try our new COVID-19 Symptom Checker →