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Q: What is COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus?

A: COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed cases. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

Q: What is the source of the virus?

A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people. More information about the source and spread of COVID-19 is available on the Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.

Q: Is COVID-19 dangerous and a threat to my health or the health of my family and friends?

A: Yes, COVID-19 is a dangerous disease. While many people have shown little to no symptoms when infected, others have developed serious complications and died. The disease is particularly dangerous for older adults, people with compromised immune systems, or those with underlying health issues like diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease.

Q: Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

A: It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months.  At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when the weather becomes warmer.  There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19, and investigations are ongoing.

Q: What should healthcare professionals and health departments do?

A: See the FAQ for Healthcare Professionals from the CDC for more information.

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A: According to the Centers for Disease Control, common COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

Q: When should I seek emergency medical attention for symptoms of COVID-19?

A: According to the Centers for Disease Control, seek medical attention if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

Q: What are the best sources to get information about COVID-19?

A: It is critical to share accurate information with the public about the virus. The following websites are reliable sources of information and updated frequently. Share with your loved ones and neighbors.  

Q: How can I keep myself and my family safe from COVID-19?

A: The best way to avoid getting sick from COVID-19 is to avoid exposure to the virus. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the best practices for avoiding COVID-19 infections are to:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth when around others.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly.

Q: Where can I get tested for COVID-19? 

A: Gov. Lee has directed the Unified-Command group to rapidly expand Tennessee’s COVID-19 testing capacity and enable more Tennesseans to have improved access. This increased testing capacity will empower citizens to make informed health decisions, and allow us to get Tennesseans back to work quickly and safely. 

Our clinical understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly and we need every Tennessean who isn’t feeling well, even outside of the traditional COVID-19 symptoms of cough, fever or difficulty breathing, to come out and get tested.

The full list of testing sites is available here.

Additional resources:

Q: What is the COVID-19 Unified-Command Group? 

A: Governor Lee established the Unified Command on March 23, 2020, to streamline coordination across key Tennessee departments to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The group is tasked with changing the way the state attacks COVID-19 in Tennessee to simultaneously address health, economic, and supply crises. 

For more information, visit the Unified-Command hub.