What is Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how does it spread?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China, but has now spread to other parts of the world, including the United States. 

The virus is spread between people who are in close contact with each other (within about six feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

People are thought to be most contagious when they are the sickest; however, they may also be contagious before they show symptoms. Studies show that the virus can also live on certain surfaces for a period of time which may make it possible for people to become exposed if they touch a contaminated object. That is why it is important to take preventive steps to avoid getting sick. 

How do you protect yourself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following everyday preventive actions: 

  • Do not travel while sick. 

  • If possible, stay home when you are sick, especially if you have flu-like symptoms. 

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw tissue in the trash. 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 

  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. 

  • If you do not have soap and water, used a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. 

  • People who have COVID-19 symptoms should use a mask to prevent the spread of the virus to other people.  


Coronavirus-Graphic 1

What are the symptoms?

The following symptoms, varying from mild to severe, may appear two-14 days after exposure.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

Learn more about what to do if you are sick. There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

Who is at risk?

Older adults (over 60 years of age) and people with compromised immune systems or chronic conditions, such as diabetes and lung disease, may be at higher risk for developing more serious symptoms or complications from coronavirus (COVID-19). If you or your loved ones are at higher risk, stay home as much as possible and consult with your doctor about additional steps to take to protect yourself. 

  • Ensure you have enough food at home and that your prescriptions are refilled and up to date. 

  • Avoid large crowds. 
  • Avoid nonessential travel. 

  • If COVID-19 is currently affecting your local community, stay at home as much as possible.  

How do we reduce stigma?

Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma towards people, places, or things. Coronavirus doesn’t recognize race, nationality, or ethnicity. No one should be harassed or discriminated against due to speculations and assumptions about who may have been exposed to the virus. Here are some tips we can follow to prevent stigma:

  • Rely on and share trusted sources of information.

  • Speak up if you hear, see, or read stigmatizing or harassing comments or misinformation. Report any type of discrimination to your local Office of Human Rights.  

  • Show compassion and support for individuals and communities more closely impacted. 

  • Avoid stigmatizing people who are in quarantine (a state, period, or place of isolation). 
    They are making the right choice for their communities. 

  • Do not make assumptions about someone’s health status based on their ethnicity, race, or national origin. 

What is physical distancing?

As a way to reduce exposure to and the spread of COVID-19, the CDC and other experts are recommending that people stay home to avoid close contact with others. This is also known as social distancing which refers to limiting physical contact or keeping physical distance between people to slow the spread of COVID-19For this reason, community-wide measures that promote physical distancing are in place, like the closing of schools, transitioning to online platforms for colleges and universities, working from home, cancellation of major events, closings of popular restaurants and businesses like movie theaters and gyms, and only going out for essential services. 

To practice physical distancing: 

  • Stay home unless you need to buy food or go to the doctor. 

  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between people and avoid large groups. 
  • Refrain from going to the supermarket at a busy time, and if possible, buy food onlineSome supermarkets have set a certain timeframe within their store hours for high-risk populations to do their shopping. 

If your job requires you to continue to interact closely with others, which makes social distancing difficult, continue to practice it as best you can, as well as preventive measures like washing your hands often and correctly to protect yourself and others around you. Also encourage those you know who can practice physical distancing to do their part for those who cannot.   

Why is physical distancing important?

Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the goal of physical distancing is to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to lessen the burden on healthcare systems and workers. If less people are infected with coronavirus (COVID-19), less people will be needing hospitalization at one given time. It is important for everyone who canincluding those at lower risk, to practice social distancing so that we help level out the rate – or “flatten the curve”  at which people are getting infected. 

How do we practice physical distancing?

The goal of physical distancing is to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to lessen the burden on health care systems and workers. For example, if too many people become sick with COVID-19 at once and need intensive care at the same time, hospitals may not be able to properly care for all patients due to shortages of beds, respiratory masks, and health care personnel. If less people are infected with coronavirus (COVID-19), less people will be needing hospitalization at one given time. It is important for everyone who can, including those at lower risk, to practice social distancing so that we help level out the rateor “flatten the curveat which people are getting infected.  


Decreasing close contact with loved ones, friends, colleagues, and the community is not easy, especially since our Latino culture highly values ​​the time we spend together as a family and with our loved ones. However, it is important to remember that we can still feel socially connected and express our love for each other in ways that are not physical. Thanks to technology, communicating through phone calls, texts, FaceTime or WhatsApp, video conferencing, and social media, it’s more possible than ever to stay connected. We can also still go out for a walk and say hello to our neighbors, as long as it's from a distance. 

Where to find additional resources

  • Community Resources 

    • Several internet providers are making broadband connection more accessible for our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on the following links for more information:  

    • Feeding America helps you find a food bank in your community. Click on the following link for more information: 

    • This directory contains an interactive map to help you find your local health department and access their contact information. Click on the following link for more information: