According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. The outbreak of this new virus and disease began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell.
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to wash your hands, practice social distancing, cover your cough, and stay home when you are sick.
The CDC says the best way to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. A few ways to help contain the spread that they recommend:
Preventative measures like hand washing, social distancing, and cancelling events are done to help "flatten the curve". These measures help to slow down the rate of infection and may help the US health care system from being overloaded. By following the recommended protective measures, a slower growth in the number of cases occurs, allowing hospitals to have more time and resources to care for all the sick patients.
More information on Flattening the Curve can be found here from NPR.