Learn about COVID-19, how it spreads, and how it’s treated.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new virus that was first discovered in 2019. It spreads when someone who is sick coughs or sneezes or through close personal contact like touching or shaking hands. Although many people who get it are only mildly sick with cough and fever, some people become sick enough that they need to be hospitalized, and some people die from this infection.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Generally, people who have COVID-19 become sick 2-14 days after being exposed to someone with the virus. Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
Most people with COVID-19 do not have a runny nose or sore throat, so if you just have those symptoms, you probably don’t have COVID-19.
How can you keep from catching COVID-19?
There is no vaccine against COVID-19, but there are simple things everyone can do to keep from getting it:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds, or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
- Try to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth
- Try to stay away from people who are sick
- If you are sick, stay home and try to stay away from other people
- Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw away tissues in a trash can and immediately wash your hands.
- Use a cloth face mask when you are not able to social distance, like when you go to the grocery store, go to work, or if you live in a group setting.
- The best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. This means practicing social distancing. Here are the things that you can do:
- Reduce the number of people you are around – the fewer, the better, but especially avoid groups of 10 or more.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
- Think about ways you can get supplies you need delivered instead of going out to stores. Ask that deliveries be left outside your door instead of accepting them in person
- If you do have to go to the store, choose a time when it is not crowded, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as soon as you leave.
- Call people on the phone instead of visiting them in person to avoid getting sick or accidentally infecting others.
How do you treat COVID-19?
There is no medicine or cure that works specifically on COVID-19. But there are ways to help take care of yourself and your family if sick:
- Most people who have had COVID-19 get better just by resting, drinking fluids and taking fever medicine like Tylenol/acetaminophen.
- Avoid taking ibuprofen or medicines like Motrin and Advil that contain ibuprofen.
- If you have trouble breathing, worsening cough, chest pain or other severe symptoms, call your doctor’s office, go to an urgent care clinic, or go to an emergency department. Call first if you can, so they are expecting you.
What should you do if you think you have COVID-19?
- If you have mild symptoms, stay home, rest, and avoid contact with others until you feel completely better.
- Because there is no medication for COVID-19, you are safer staying home with mild symptoms than going to a place where you might expose others or be exposed to others with illness.
- People who should be tested if they have fever or cough include:
- Healthcare workers.
- People living or working in group settings like nursing homes or shelters.
- Adults over age 50.
- People with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease.
- Contact with a known case of COVID-19 within 14 days.
- People with severe or worsening illness and those who must be hospitalized.
If you think you need to be tested for COVID-19, call your primary care provider’s office. If you do not have a primary care provider or have other questions, call the COVID-19 helpline at 1- 800-722-7112.
Information for employees affected by COVID-19
If you are employed in Pennsylvania and are unable to work because of COVID-19, you may
be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits.
To learn more, visit the Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation page on information for Pennsylvania employees impacted by COVID-19.
Where can I find out more?
The Department of Public Health will continue to issue guidance and resources in multiple languages about COVID-19 coronavirus in Philadelphia: