What is COVID-19?

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019, also known as COVID-19, is a new disease caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus not previously seen in humans. While the COVID-19 outbreak began in China, it is now spreading worldwide and there are no vaccines to prevent COVID-19. View more FAQs related to what you need to know about COVID-19 and your risk.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

What are the symptoms? 

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure, and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Most people who become sick do not require hospitalization, but older adults, people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to require more advanced care. Learn more about symptoms and see how symptoms compare between COVID-19, the flu and colds

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Lake Health, local health departments, the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are closely monitoring COVID-19 in our region and have detailed preparedness plans in place that are updated frequently as new developments occur. Patients are being screened at all points of entry into the Lake Health system for certain criteria as defined by the CDC. Patients who meet the CDC guidelines will be referred for testing as appropriate.

If you suspect you may have COVID-19, call your health care provider first or seek virtual care through Lake Health Online Quick Care. Unless it’s a medical emergency, it’s important to stay home if you feel sick to reduce the spread of illness. Your doctor’s office can help give instructions on how to get the care you need and determine if you meet the CDC guidelines for testing based on your symptoms, travel and exposure. If you do meet the criteria, you’ll be advised on how to proceed with testing. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 and tell the dispatcher about your symptoms and travel history. We've created a free screening questionnaire based on CDC guidelines to help you determine the most appropriate level of care for you, available through Online Quick Care.

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Take action and prepare for COVID-19. Stop the spread of disease-causing germs and take steps to protect yourself by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when you cannot wash with soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant that kills viruses.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you're sick. 

The Ohio Department of Health recommends keeping an adequate supply of water and food in your home,  and keeping a working thermometer and respiratory medications on hand. 

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The Ohio Department of Health asks employers and businesses to be prepared to protect employees in the event of an outbreak of any infectious disease and to share your preparedness plans with your workplace. 

The Ohio Department of Health provides the following guidance for employers: 

  • Encourage employees with symptoms of acute respiratory illness to stay home.
  • Develop non-punitive, flexible sick leave policies consistent with public health guidance. Allow employees to remain home for their own or a family member’s illness or to care for a child if schools should temporarily close.
  • Separate employees who have acute respiratory illness symptoms at work from others and send them home immediately.
  • Ask employees who have a family member at home with COVID-19 to notify a supervisor. Refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, inform other employees of their possible exposure in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
  • Inform employees that some people may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.
  • Emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees at all times:
    • Place posters that encourage staying home when sickcough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other areas where they are likely to be seen.
    • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for employee use.
    • Maintain adequate supplies of soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace.
    • Place hand rubs in multiple locations and/or in conference rooms. 
  • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs. Use cleaning agents that are usually used and follow directions on the label.
  • Provide disposable wipes so employees can clean commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) before each use.
  • Advise employees before traveling to check the CDC Travel Health Notices and U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories and to stay home if they are sick.
  • Plan for the cancelling of non-essential travel.
  • Implement plans to continue your essential business functions in case you experience higher than usual absenteeism or critical supply chains are interrupted.
  • Consider cross-training personnel in essential roles.
  • Prepare to consider cancelling large work-related meetings or events.
  • Try to establish policies and practices – such as telecommuting, web-based conferences and flexible work hours/staggered shifts – to distance employees from others if necessary.
  • Establish a process to communicate information to employees and business partners. Anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors and misinformation and respond with credible information.
  • To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use only the CDC guidance to determine risk of COVID-19. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain confidentiality of people with confirmed COVID-19.

- Sourced from Ohio Department of Health, updated March 10, 2020, from recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides recommendations for canceling or postponing your travel based on potential health risks, such as the risk of getting COVID-19. See if your destination is on this list. In general, travelers can take routine precautions to help reduce their risk of getting sick, including:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.

Read more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19 for travelers.

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For general questions, the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 8 pm and can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634). Call center staff includes licensed nurses and infectious disease experts. This team can answer questions and provide accurate information about COVID-19, the risk to the public and the state’s response.

These trusted resources offer up-to-date information about COVID-19: 

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio Department of Health