What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can 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, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses by clicking here.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

• fever
• cough
• shortness of breath

Call ahead to a health care professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing. Tell your health care professional about any recent travel or contact with other COVID-19 cases. Your healthcare professional will work with Maine CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. More information is available on the U.S. CDC’s What You Should Know page.

Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.
• Self-Distancing: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should
• Self-Isolate: 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.

Avoid Travel, if possible. 

Learn more about the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control for Higher Risks individuals by clicking here. 

Resources & Helpful Links

CDC Fact Sheets

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and you

COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Share Facts, Not Fear

What to do if you are sick with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)


White House Task Force



Helpful Links:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information from the CDC

Information for Travelers from the CDC

Information on How to Prepare from the CDC


CDC Webinar Recording: Underlying Medical Conditions and People at Higher Risk for COVID

Med Tac Bystander Rescue Care Webinar; Coronavirus – Protecting You & Your Family: First Responder & Family Briefing


Additional Resources:

Optum, part of UnitedHealth Group, is opening its Emotional-Support Help Line. Professionally trained mental health staff are there to support people who may be suffering from fear or stress over COVID-19. Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line number is 866-342-6892 and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free of charge and open to anyone.

For LGBTQ older people and those aging with HIV that are worried, stressed or in need of help, know that the @SAGEUSA hotline is available for you here: 1-877-360- LGBT(5428)


State Specific Resources

Please click the links below for state specific updates and resources.