COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by new, or "novel" coronavirus that was not identified in humans before December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Most people will recover on their own, but some people can develop more serious complications, such as pneumonia, and require medical care or hospitalization. Older people and people with chronic illnesses are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

Number of Cases

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person to person and the number of cases detected in Washington, nationally, and in other countries is growing.

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The risk of COVID-19 is not connected to race, ethnicity or nationality. Share accurate information with others to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.


People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported - ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combination of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Other less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness.

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

How Coronavirus Spreads

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 with out symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads and the severity of the illness it causes.

Learn more about the spread of COVID-19 at the CDC website.

Questions About COVID-19

  • Washington State Department of Health (DOH)