Health Information

About the new coronavirus

The 2019 novel coronavirus, which can cause a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, is a new virus first identified in China that has spread across the world. For details on the virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) COVID-19 webpage.

What should you do?

It's important to remember the steps you can take to prevent the spread of any virus, including the flu:

  • Practice social distancing, avoiding close contact with others when possible.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid large crowds.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your doorknobs, light switches and commonly touched areas with disinfectant wipes frequently.

Should you wear a mask?

There are different public health perspectives in different regions of the world on the benefits of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as coronavirus or the flu. It's common practice in Asia, for example, to wear masks in public to avoid getting sick or to prevent others from being exposed to illness. If you see someone wearing a mask in public, don't assume that they have an illness.

In the U.S., public health officials have deemed masks effective only for specific circumstances and not for general use. The CDC does not recommend the use of face masks for the general public to prevent the spread of coronavirus.