Understanding COVID-19

What Is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease, and our understanding of the virus that causes it continues to evolve. It was first detected in China and has now been detected in over 100 countries, including the United States. The virus has been named COVID-19. The disease is believed to have originally occurred from animal-to-person contact and spreads person-to-person.

Stay Informed — Visit CDC Site

Female with SymptonsWhat You Need to Know About COVID-19

We continue to learn new information about the COVID-19. Keep up on the latest news and what you can do to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy with new articles from UNC Health Talk.

COVID-19: lo que necesita saber

Conozca los síntomas del COVID-19, cómo protegerse a usted y a su familia y qué hacer si está enfermo.

Take Preventive Actions

Everyday actions can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Protect yourself and others with these tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are used often, such as cellphones, door knobs, and light switches.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • If you do become sick, stay home and limit contact with others in your home as much as possible.

Latest CDC Recommendation for Wearing Non-Medical Face Masks

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Read more from the CDC about how to wear a mask properly, how to safely remove a mask and how to clean/sanitize a mask.

Make the Most of your Mask with this tutorial from UNC Children's [PDF]

FAQs about Cloth Face Coverings: Read the CDC's responses to frequently asked questions about their non-medical face mask recommendation.

Making the Most of Masking: Let's Focus on Fit

Chart comparing the symptoms of allergies, colds, and COVID-19.Allergies, Cold, Flu or COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses. Every cough or sneeze should not create worry for you or your family. Use this chart as a guide to understanding the different symptoms.

This UNC Health Talk article explains the different symptoms with help from Dana Neutze, MD, PhD, associate medical director of the UNC Family Medicine Center.

Senior Male and FemaleOlder Adults and High-Risk Patients

Understand what older adults and those with existing medical conditions need to know.

More Information for Older Adults and High Risk Patients

ChildrenWhat Parents Need to Know

Information is available to help parents and their families deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

More Information for Parents

UNC Dashboard of COVID CasesBy the Numbers: North Carolina and Globally

Coping with Stress During COVID-19 Outbreak

You may experience a range of emotions while dealing with the changes to your normal routine and the added worry about your loved ones. Those with existing mental health conditions may be especially vulnerable with the added stress of COVID-19. The CDC offers resources to help Manage Anxiety and Stress, including information about:

  • Understanding stress and coping
  • Reducing Stress in Yourself and Others
  • Tips for Parents
  • Tips for Responders
  • Tips for People Who Have Been Released from Quarantine

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Resources:

If You Have Symptoms of COVID-19

If you are concerned you have been exposed or have symptoms of COVID-19, click the COVID-19 Help tab on the bottom of the page. This will bring up our COVID-19 symptom checker that will lead you through some questions to determine if you need medical follow-up. You can also call your primary care provider. Review COVID-19 testing options on this page. 

UNC Health has a very limited supply of monoclonal antibody treatment medications right now. The fastest way to see if treatment is available or if you are eligible is to call your primary care physician. 

Call 911 or seek immediate treatment if your COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent chest pain and/or pressure
  • A fever >104 degrees Fahrenheit that isn’t improving with over-the-counter fever reducing medication
  • Persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Confusion they weren’t experiencing before
  • An inability to get up
  • A blue tint to your lips and/or face

Frequently Asked Questions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention answers common questions about COVID-19.

Effective Hand Washing

Hand washing is an important part of preventing illness, but what is the best way to wash your hands? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains their recommendations in this video.