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Background and Symptoms of COVID-19

What We Know

An outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread throughout China and to most other countries and territories, including the United States. This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation. 


COVID-19 symptoms are respiratory and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe and some have resulted in death. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets an infected person expels when coughing, sneezing, or talking. The incubation period from time of exposure to onset of symptoms is 2-14 days. The current outbreak is occurring during a time of year when respiratory illnesses from influenza and other viruses, including other coronaviruses that cause the “common cold,” are highly prevalent. There is currently no FDA approved vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 and focus is on alleviation of symptoms.

National Jewish Health: Allergies, Cold, Flu, or COVID-19?


Prevention includes basic infection control precautions such as practicing proper hand washing, covering coughs, avoiding touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes, staying home when ill, and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. 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.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people. Community-level non-pharmaceutical interventions have included school and business closures and social distancing, such as postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings, and flexible attendance and sick policies at workplaces (e.g., telework, remote-meeting options, e-learning). Studies show early planning and implementation of these interventions can reduce the community spread and impact of contagious pathogens. To improve preparedness efforts, organizations should review and update any previous plans pertaining to continuity of operations, emergency operations, and pandemic influenza.

For more prevention tips, please visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Preparedness webpage.

Ongoing Research

Research is ongoing to further clarify the incubation period, duration of virus shedding and additional modes of transmission. These may have implications for duration of quarantine and other mitigation measures. Additional studies are being carried out to fully describe the risk factors for infection and severity of disease, including mortality rates.

For More Information

For general questions about COVID-19 in Colorado, call CO HELP at (303) 389-1687 or 1(877) 462-2911 or email

For disease prevention and control, call the Weld County Health Department at (970) 400-2111.