Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus?
2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China.
Q: How does the virus spread?
Many of the initial patients in the outbreak had a link to a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, the virus is now being spread person-to-person.
Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet), mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged COVID-19 from the CDC.
Q: Is COVID-19 the same as other coronaviruses?
It is important to understand that there are seven different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of the seven coronaviruses are very common, cause milder symptoms (similar to the common cold), and most people will be infected with at least one of these in their lifetime. The other three of the seven coronaviruses are rare and can cause more severe illness; this includes the COVID-19.
Q: How can I prevent COVID-19?
Take the same precautions for COVID-19 as you would for other respiratory illnesses like flu:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper arm/elbow
- Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
- Contain germs by staying home when ill
Q: How can I prepare for COVID-19?
It is important to prepare for the potential of COVID-19 in the same way you prepare for severe weather or other events that could disrupt your normal routine.
Make a plan and discuss it with your family. What would you do if you could not go to work or school because of illness? What if your daycare provider was ill? How would you get groceries if you were ill? These are all questions to think about.
Q: Is it normal to be concerned about a new virus?
Being uncertain and anxious about COVID-19 is normal, especially with reports of illness and death
It is important to understand the risk of influenza is much higher than the risk of COVID-19 in Iowa right now.
Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of
- shortness of breath
Q: Is there a vaccine to protect against COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Q: Is there a risk for COVID-19 from products shipped from China?
People receiving imported goods from China are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects such as letters or packages.
Q: What if I recently traveled to China and got sick?
If you traveled to China in the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care right away. Before you go to a healthcare office, call ahead and tell them about your travel and your symptoms.
Q: What is the risk of the COVID-19 to Iowans? Are certain groups of people more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than others?
Currently, the risk for COVID-19 is associated with recent travel to China, not race or country of origin. Overall, the COVID-19 risk to Iowans remains low at this time.
Learn more about the COVID-19 virus from CDC.