About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
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Although this particular "novel" viral variant is new, Coronaviruses as a group have been known to science since the late 1930's and are recognized to cause 15-30% of all winter "common colds", and it is likely that every adult in the world has been infected with at least one common cold-causing Coronavirus at some point in their lives.
The term “novel” is used to describe a virus that enters a new species (animal or human) in whose population the virus does not normally circulate.
Experts are still learning about the range of illness from novel coronavirus. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization. Seniors and individuals with certain underlying health conditions may be more likely to develop severe illness from COVID-19.
COVID-19 Variant Strains
As viruses grow and spread, they sometimes mutate into new versions, or variant strains.
- Mutation is natural, and most mutations do no additional harm.
- Some variants are more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus. This means they can spread more easily and quickly, which may lead to more cases.
Currently known variant strains include B.1.427/429, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1. For the latest information on COVID-19 variants, please see the Centers for Disease Control website:
The symptoms of variant strains are the same as for other COVID-19 illnesses. See the Symptoms list below.
At this time, it appears that currently approved vaccines are effective against the known variants. Some medical treatments are shown to be less effective in specific variants.
These general precautions help prevent all known COVID-19 illnesses:
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.
- Stay at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with.
- Wear a face covering when outside the house.
- Double masking is more effective than a single fabric mask.
- Avoid gatherings with people you don’t live with.
We need to keep up our precautions while more people get vaccinated. Relaxing COVID-19 restrictions while many people aren’t vaccinated will make it easier for virus variants to develop resistance to vaccines. We’re not safe until everyone is safe.
For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. These symptoms may appear two to fourteen days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or Vomiting
*This list does not include all possible symptoms and may be updated in the future
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person in respiratory droplets from someone who is infected. People who are infected often have symptoms of illness. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- COVID-19 can be spread by people who are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic).
Maintaining good physical distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
It is possible for a person to 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. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Also, routinely clean frequently touched surfaces.
The Center's for Disease Control and Prevention and Oregon Health Authority officials continue to recommend people in Oregon take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of many respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza:
- 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.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover all surfaces of your hand and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you're sick.
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Put distance between yourself and other people.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.
- Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.
- Take care of your health overall. Stay current on your vaccinations, including the flu vaccine, eat well and exercise to help your body stay resilient.
Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US.