What you need to know about coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Go to CDC.gov/COVID-19 for the most updated information about COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (also called COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that usually happen among us and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

What is happening with COVID-19 in the United States?

All states in the United States are reporting cases of COVID-19.

The cases in the United States are:

  • Travel-related
  • Close contact of a known case
  • Community-acquired, where the source of the infection is unknown.

The risk of getting COVID-19 for Americans increases for those who:

  • Live in places where there is ongoing community spreading.
  • Have close contacts with people with COVID-19.
  • Traveled to places where community spread is happening.
  • Health care providers caring for patients with COVID-19

The risk of getting very sick is higher for:

COVID-19 and pregnancy

At this time, we have limited pregnancy-specific data about COVID-19 . However, more studies are being published and we are learning more each day. Public health and medical groups are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and providing regular updates. 

If you are pregnant are you at a higher risk of getting COVID-19?

CDC says there’s not a lot of information about COVID-19 and pregnancy. What we know is during pregnancy, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Having a lowered immune system may make you more likely to get sick with viruses like coronavirus.  

Can you give COVID-19 to your baby during pregnancy?

As of now it’s not clear if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to her baby. Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, data had suggested that babies born to moms with the virus did not test positive for COVID-19. Recent data published in the Journal of American Medical Association suggest that transition during pregnancy may be possible. As more studies get published, we will update this information as we learn more.

What complications can me or my baby have if I get COVID-19 during pregnancy?

According to the CDC:

  • Pregnant women can get sicker and require hospital care when they have certain other types of respiratory illnesses, like the flu  and another coronavirus illness called severe acute respiratory syndrome (also called SARS).  
  • Pregnancy loss has been observed with other coronaviruses, like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. We don’t know if COVID-19 can cause pregnancy loss.
  • It’s not certain if the risk of preterm labor and premature birth increases with COVID-19, like it does with the flu. Based on limited reports, there have been some premature births among moms with COVID-19. It is not clear if that is related to maternal infection.
  • If you have high fever during your pregnancy, the risk for certain birth defects can increase.
  • Based on other respiratory illnesses, like the flu and other coronaviruses, pregnant women may be at risk of getting severe illness and even death compared to the rest of the population.


Recent data shows that compared to adults, babies and children generally have less severe COVID-19 symptoms. However, among babies and children, babies less than one year old are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19

What should you do if you have COVID-19 and you are in labor?

If you are in labor and you have confirmed COVID-19 or you think you have COVID-19, call the hospital or medical facility before you go. This way, the staff can take proper infection control precautions to protect your baby and other people from getting the infection.

If you have COVID-19, how can a medical facility protect your baby after birth?

CDC recommends that medical facilities consider having moms with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 stay in a separate room from their new baby after birth until the risk of spreading the infection is over. Your providers can talk to you about the risks and benefits of this decision. Providers, infection control specialists and public health experts can work together to determine when to end this temporary separation.

If you and your baby are not separated, you can reduce the chances of your baby getting infected by washing your hands thoroughly and wearing a facemask before touching your baby. Your providers may help with other precautions, like keeping a curtain between you and your baby.

Should you breastfeed your baby if you have COVID-19?

Experts think that the infection spreads mainly through small liquid droplets from the nose or mouth when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes. There is not enough data yet to know if the virus can spread from you to your baby by breastfeeding. So far, the COVID-19 virus has not been found in the breast milk of women with COVID-19. If it is confirmed that you have COVID-19, the CDC recommends talking to your provider about breastfeeding.

If you are temporarily separated from your newborn and you want to breastfeed, your providers can help you use a breast pump to express your breast milk. Wash your hands thoroughly before using the pump. A healthy provider can feed the breast milk to your baby.

If you plan to breastfeed your baby from your breast, wash your hands thoroughly and put on a facemask before touching your baby.

Are children more likely to get COVID-19 than adults?

Recent data shows that children are getting COVID-19, but the infection seems to be less severe than in adults. Most children with COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms. Serious problems in children with COVID-19 appear to be rare.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

According to CDC, the symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild symptoms to severe illness. Deaths have been reported from confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after being infected:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Get immediate medical care if you have any of these warning signs:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Constant pain or pressure in the chest
  • If you start feeling confused
  • Bluish lips or face
  • You don’t respond

How does COVID-19 spread?

We are still learning about how COVID-19 spreads.

  • Mainly from person-to-person. Between close contact (about 6 feet away) with someone infected. The virus travels from person-to-person via respiratory droplets when the infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Possibly by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or possibly your eyes.

Some spreading of the virus can happen before a person shows symptoms. But people are most contagious when they feel really sick.

How can you prevent the spread of COVID-19?

At the moment there’s no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent getting infected is to avoid being exposed to this virus. You can follow the same steps you take to prevent getting sick with a cold or the flu to protect yourself from COVID-19. This includes:  

  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay at home as much as you can or keep at least 6 feet distance from others. This is also called social distancing.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm. Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching anyone. You also can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Use enough hand sanitizer so that it takes at least 20 seconds for your hands to dry.
  • Clean and disinfect objects you touch regularly and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash your dishes and utensils.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick and can’t wear a facemask.

What can you do if you get infected with COVID-19?

If you have a fever or cough, you may have COVID-19. Call your health care provider and ask what you should do.
Monitor your symptoms. If you get any of the followings signs, get medical care right away:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Constant pain or pressure in the chest
  • If you start feeling confused
  • Bluish lips or face
  • You don’t respond

According to the CDC, most people have mild illness and may be able to recover at home. If you have mild symptoms follow these recommendations to care for yourself and avoid spreading the disease to others:

  • Stay home except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas, except if you are seeking medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas and avoid using public transportation or taxis (including ride-shares).
  • Call a medical facility before you show up. Be sure to tell the staff that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the facility to take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. Put on a facemask before you enter the facility.
  • Stay separate from others in your home. Stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets you live with. Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Wear a facemask when you are around other people. If available, wear a facemask when you are around people and before entering a medical facility or provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask, people who have contact with you should wear one. CDC recommends using a scarf or a bandana if a facemask is not available.
  • Clean your hands often. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm. Throw used tissues in the trash. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, right after. You also can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Use enough hand sanitizer so that it takes at least 20 seconds for your hands to dry.
  • Don’t share personal household items. Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash your dishes and utensils. Don’t share towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items wash them thoroughly.
  • Clean and disinfect objects in your isolation area every day. This includes areas you frequently touch and in the bathroom you use. Your caregiver should clean other parts of the house outside of your isolation area. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Use a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. See CDC’s complete disinfection guide for more information.

If it’s been confirmed that you have COVID-19 remain under home isolation and follow precautions until the risk of passing the illness to others is thought to be low. Talk to your provider about when you should stop home isolation and taking precautions.

Seek medical attention right away if your symptoms are getting worse. If you are having difficulty breathing or your symptoms are worsening, don’t wait to get medical care. If you need to call 911, notify them that you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19.

What do you need to know about traveling?

  • CDC recommends avoiding travel by cruise ship, especially if you have health conditions like diabetes, heart and lung disease.
  • Check CDC travel notices for information about traveling.

Last reviewed March 31, 2020