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Coronavirus Facts

Last content update:  4/3/2020


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About Novel Coronavirus

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Many coronaviruses naturally infect animals, but some can also infect humans. Coronaviruses are thought to spread through the air by coughing/sneezing and close personal contact, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

What do we know about the novel coronavirus?

There has been an outbreak of a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which first appeared in December 2019. The virus has spread to most countries in the world, including the United States.

Since this coronavirus is new, health authorities are still learning more about the virus and how it spreads. The situation is quickly changing and the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) provides updated information as it becomes available:

What is the difference between COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2?

COVID-19 is the disease caused by novel coronavirus. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) refers to the virus, while Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) refers to the disease caused by the virus.

How is the novel coronavirus treated?

There is no vaccine for the novel coronavirus and no specific treatment or cure for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. COVID-19 patients should get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage stress.

Acetaminophen should be used to reduce fever and aches and pains. For severe cases, medical care may be needed to relieve symptoms and support vital organ functions until the patient recovers.


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Do I need to be concerned about transmission of novel coronavirus?

We know that everyone is concerned about the novel coronavirus. What is now known is that the disease is in Santa Clara County and is circulating at some level, but importantly, it is unknown as to what degree. The priority is to conduct public health surveillance to determine the extent of local spread. The County public health laboratory now has the ability to run the test and now will be able to quickly evaluate what's happening in our community.

The County has engaged public health colleagues from across County Departments as well as from the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for assistance. The County will continue to work with these and other partners to respond to cases, to trace contacts, and to understand what is going on in our community. The Emergency Operations Center has been activated for many weeks and will continue to be active in response to this crisis.​

What about transmission by people who have no symptoms?

Several studies have documented spread from a person who does not yet have symptoms (pre-symptomatic transmission), for up to 48-hours before onset of symptoms. Therefore, a person may be at risk for COVID-19 if they were in close contact (within 6 feet for a prolonged period of time) with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, for up to 48-hours before the onset of symptoms. People are still thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). These findings underscore the importance of following social distancing because people without symptoms could be contagious.


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What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus?

Symptoms include fever, tiredness, cough, and muscle or body aches. The illness can progress to shortness of breath and complications from pneumonia. Symptoms may also include nausea with vomiting, diarrhea, chills, night sweats, sore throat, headaches, confusion, or loss of sense of taste or smell. Some infected patients experience only mild symptoms while others—particularly older individuals and those with underlying health conditions—might develop more severe symptoms. Symptoms may develop 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.


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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing

Santa Clara County continues to expand strategies to effectively prevent and control COVID-19 in our communities. Expansion of testing is essential, as it helps us identify individuals who are infected, protect vulnerable populations, and better understand the spread of disease in our communities. A significant increase in testing, particularly of all symptomatic individuals, is needed to support these goals. Please refer to the COVID-19 Testing page for more detailed information and resources.


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Who to Contact

General Questions

Santa Clara County residents can now call 2-1-1 for information on novel coronavirus and COVID-19 thanks to a new partnership between the County of Santa Clara and 2-1-1. Residents can also receive information on novel coronavirus by simply texting the word “coronavirus” to 211211 and following the prompts provided.

In addition to information about COVID-19, 2-1-1 connects callers with local community services such as food, shelter, counseling, employment assistance, quality childcare, senior services, and more.

Suspected Violations

The County of Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office has an online form for individuals or businesses to report a non-essential business operating in violation of the Health Officer Order to Shelter in Place. Reports of businesses operating in violation of the order can be directed to the District Attorney's staff through their website. The form is available in English, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.​​​​​​​​​​

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Last updated: 11/3/2020 10:25 AM