About COVID 19

Person looking into a microscope

Important (COVID-19) Information

What is COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is primarily a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a “novel” or new coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. Other coronaviruses cause mild disease like the common cold.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Most patients with COVID-19 may have no or mild symptoms. Some may develop:

  • fever
  • cough
  • muscle aches
  • shortness of breath

If you have not recently traveled to an area with confirmed COVID-19 infections, your risk of infection is extremely low. Should you develop symptoms, it is more likely you have the common cold or Influenza (flu) and you should contact your medical provider for additional guidance.

What should I do if I think I may be infected with COVID-19?

If you believe you may be at risk of infection with COVID-19 and you develop symptoms, call ahead to a healthcare provider for additional guidance. Be sure to tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Follow the steps below until a healthcare provider says you can return to your normal activities.

  • Stay at home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Wear a face mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all "high touch" surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms


How can I be prepared?

Now is a good time to review your family’s preparedness. Discuss your family emergency plan. For more information on family emergency planning, visit KnoWhat2Do.

How can I avoid infection with COVID-19?

The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus. These are exactly the same precautions you would take to avoid coming down with a cold or the flu.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • 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 sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What if I’m considering traveling?

For individuals who are considering travel, they should consult the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories webpage.

How to talk to kids about COVID-19

Speak calm and reassuringly to your kids when talking about COVID-19. Ask them and stay open to questions about what they have heard and find out if they are hearing any wrong information. Teach kids that getting lots of sleep, washing their hands well, not touching their face and often can help them stay strong and well.

Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?

You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

Is there a vaccine or treatment?

A vaccine has been developed, but it is not available yet for distribution.

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to the virus.

News Release - Texas Department of State Health Services COVID-19 Distribution Plan(PDF, 687KB)

Can animals become ill with or spread COVID-19?

At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.

COVID-19 FAQs for Animal Owners(PDF, 363KB)