Background 

The Coronavirus is a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and has now been detected in almost 70 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

How is it Spread?  

There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 as the outbreak investigation continues. Infected people can spread COVID-19 through their respiratory secretions, especially when they cough or sneeze. According to the CDC, spread from person-to-person is most likely among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unknown if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

What are the Symptoms?  

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.  Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:  

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Workers Who May Have Exposure Risk

Despite the low risk of exposure in most job sectors, some workers in the United States may have exposure to infectious people, including travelers who contracted COVID-19 abroad. Workers with increased exposure risk include those involved in:

  • Healthcare (including pre-hospital and medical transport workers, healthcare providers, clinical laboratory personnel, and support staff).
  • Deathcare (including coroners, medical examiners, and funeral directors).
  • Airline operations.
  • Waste management.
  • Travel to areas, including parts of China, where the virus is spreading.

Helpful Resources

We've compiled a list of helpful sites that can provide you with accurate and up-to-date information on the Coronavirus. 

Occupational Safety & Health Administration 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Other