Here you will find basic information about coronavirus (COVID-19), including: 

What is COVID-19? 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease which has now spread to the United States.

It is mild for most people, but can cause severe illness and result in death for some. Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, have the greatest risk of becoming severely ill.

There is no vaccine and no medications approved to treat COVID-19 at this time.

How It Spreads

COVID-19 spreads from person to person, mainly through coughs and sneezes of infected people or between people who are in close contact.


If you suspect you are infected with COVID-19, call ahead before visiting a medical facility so they can prepare. Do not go to an emergency room with mild symptoms.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Call your doctor right away if you experience these symptoms and have:

  • been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or
  • recently traveled from an area with ongoing community spread

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a fact sheet with more information about what to do if you are sick with COVID-19.

Precautionary Measures

  • Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue or your elbow 
  • If you are sick, please avoid contact with others until all symptoms have cleared for a minimum of 24 hours

Prevention of COVID-19 is the same as that for other respiratory illnesses (like flu). These actions don't just protect you. They help keep our whole community safe, especially our most vulnerable residents, by slowing the spread of the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided recommendation to stop the spread of germs.

Social Distancing

Currently, a vaccine or drug is not available for COVID-19. Community-based interventions such as school dismissals, event cancellations, social distancing, and creating employee plans to work remotely can help slow the spread of COVID-19. The CDC website has recommendations to slowing the transmission of COVID-19.

In Iowa, the spread of coronavirus is community spread. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has provided mitigation guidance specific to Iowa.

Make a Plan

It is important for Iowa City residents to prepare for the potential of COVID-19 in the same way they prepare for severe weather or other events that could disrupt their normal routine.

Make a plan and discuss it with your family. What would you do if you could not go to work or school because of illness? What if your daycare provider was ill? How would you get groceries if you were ill? These are all questions to consider.

It is normal to be concerned about a new virus.

Being uncertain and anxious about COVID-19 is normal, especially with reports of illness and death in other countries.

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