COVID-19: Novel Coronavirus Disease

"Vaccination is one of the most important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The State will equitably distribute a safe and effective vaccine to everyone in California who wants it. Californians 50+ will be eligible for vaccination starting April 1. Every Californian 16 and up will be eligible for vaccination on April 15, 2021." (State of California)

COVID-19 Vaccination

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is an important part of controlling the disease. Vaccination helps protect vaccinated individuals, as well as others.  

It's important to note that vaccinated individuals must continue to practice physical distancing, wearing masks, good hand hygiene, and the other steps necessary to reduce COVID-19 risk.

Resources on COVID-19 vaccines are available below:

Note: The State of California Stay Home Order remains in effect.

Current State and County Health Officer Orders


COVID-19 related orders are issued by the State of California and some counties and cities. For example, Los Angeles County also has its own Health Officer Order in effect. Which order should be followed? Residents are required to follow the most restrictive order in effect in their area.


Details on California and county orders can be found at:


Los Angeles County

Residents of Other Public Health Jurisdictions

About This Webpage

This webpage provides general information about COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease. Because new health officer orders and guidelines are released on a frequent basis, please visit the following resources for the latest updates:

Important Resources

Cal State LA

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Additional Los Angeles County Resources

State of California Resources 

  • State of California: COVID-19 Updates
    • Includes information and resources on financial assistance, food and meal assistance, getting tested, obtaining health care, and COVID-19 risk reduction.

Other Resources

COVID-19 Testing

Test Sites

Free COVID-19 testing is available in Los Angeles and other counties. For details and to locate a test site, click on one of the following links:

What Should I Do if I Develop COVID-19 Symptoms?

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) Guidelines

The LACDPH has issued the following instructions for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms and their families and caregivers:

General Considerations

  • Seek medical care.
    • Before you go to a doctor’s office, urgent care center or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your symptoms.
    • The elderly and individuals who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions should call their doctor earlier.
    • Call 211 to find support near you if you do not have a healthcare provider.
  • Avoid contact with others. This includes separating yourself from other people in your home.
  • Don't go to school, work or out in the public.
  • Use a separate room and bathroom, if possible.
  • Don't cook or prepare meals for others.
  • Avoid sharing household items.
  • Clean "high-touch" surfaces and objects, including frequently touched surfaces and objects such as doorknobs, counter tops.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue away. Wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
    • Handwashing is especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • Read Steps for Handwashing (LACDPH) for details.
  • Wear a facemask or cloth face covering.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with pets and other animals.
  • Stay in contact with others via phone, email or other means.

What Should I Do if I May Have Been Exposed?

The LACDPH has issued the following guidance materials for those who have been exposed to COVID-19:

Celebrate Safely

Take Care When Celebrating

Note: Restrictions on private gatherings remain in place and residents are required to comply with the most restrictive Health Officer Orders.

"Avoid Crowds, Confined Spaces & Close Contact

Only gather with members of your household. 
If you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, are sick or someone you have had close contact with is sick, remain isolated away from others or quarantine, as appropriate.
Wear a cloth face covering when outside your home or when around others who are not in your household while engaged in essential and permitted activities.
Do not share: utensils, cups, food, drinks.
Disinfect frequently touched items regularly.
Wash or sanitize your hands often."
For additional information, read:

General Safety Considerations

Consider the Risk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "the risk of spreading COVID-19 at events and gatherings increases as follows:

The Risk of Spreading COVID-19 at Events and Gatherings
Lowest Risk Virtual-only events, activities and gatherings.
More Risk Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Higher Risk Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.
Highest Risk Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area."

Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 cases are still high and variants are spreading. It's important to:

Follow California, Los Angeles County (and other local public health department),  and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to reduce risk.
  • Stay home as much as possible, except to perform essential work, obtain essential services, or engage in other permitted activities.
  • Check out, in advance, the safety precautions restaurants, businesses and services you plan to use have implemented.
  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol):
    • Before going out
    • After going to the bathroom
    • Before eating
    • After coughing or sneezing
    • After handling items touched by others
    • When you get home
    • At other times, as needed
  • Limit indoor activities and avoid confined spaces, crowds and close contact with individuals who are not in your household.
  • Wear cloth face coverings when in contact with or likely to come in contact with individuals who are not in your household.
  • Maintain physical distancing of at least six feet with individuals who are not part of your household.
  • Avoid having visitors in your home unless they provide essential services (e.g., caregiving, repairs). Visitors should wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing as much as possible. Individuals who are sick should not enter your home. 
  • Choose contactless options where available for reservations, checkin, payment, and item delivery.
  • Avoid sharing food, toys and other items.
Take care to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Don't forget that infected individuals who don't have symptoms can pass the infection to others.
Stay home if you have a fever, respiratory or other symptoms, or feel sick, except to obtain necessary medical care. Quarantine if you have had close contact with someone who is sick.
Stay home except for essential needs if you are at high-risk for serious illness. Where possible, let friends or family members take care of grocery shopping and other needs.
Wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet at work, when in public and when taking advantage of open services, businesses, parks and beaches, and in other situations where you will or likely will come in contact with individuals who are not in your household, .

Check Your Hand Sanitizer

Certain hand sanitizers contain methanol. Methanol can cause severe health problems, including death. For details on which hand sanitizers to stop using, safety tips and symptoms of methanol poisoning, read:

Avoid Non-Essential Travel - If You Do Travel, Follow Public Health Guidelines

Note: Non-essential travel is discouraged (California Department of Public Health Travel Advisory). Additional information about travel restrictions may be found at About COVID-19 Restrictions.

Travel Considerations in the U.S. or Elsewhere

  • Adhere to health officer orders.
  • Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, those who should be quarantining or isolating should not travel.
  • If you plan to travel outside of your local community, the CDC recommends you consider the following:
    • The spread of COVID-19 in your community (you may have it), stops along the way/at your destination (you may spread it or get infected).
    • Ability to maintain physical distancing.
    • Risk to travelers or those you live with who are at higher risk of serious illness.
    • Quarantine requirements of home and destination community/state/country.
    • Impact of COVID-19 infection and required isolation on school, work, etc.
  • Reduce COVID-19 risk while traveling:
    • Follow local public health guidance.
    • Maintain physical distance.
    • Wear cloth face coverings.
    • Wash or sanitize hands frequently.
    • Avoid individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
    • Take other recommended precautions to reduce risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.
  • Continue to reduce risk after traveling
    • Stay home for 7 days after return AND get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after travel.
    • Those who choose not to test should stay home for 14 days after travel.
    • Maintain physical distancing, wearing cloth face coverings, washing and sanitizing hands, and other COVID-19 risk reduction precautions.
    • Avoid individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 disease.
    • Watch for symptoms. Follow isolation instructions if COVID-19 symptoms develop.

General Travel Resources

International Travel Resources

Managing Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This is a very challenging time. The following resources offer suggestions for managing stress:

Additional resources are available at:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Get COVID-19?

Anyone exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 can become infected, so it is important to follow state, local public health and CDC guidelines to reduce risk. Certain individuals are at high risk for becoming seriously ill, which increases risk for hospitalization, being placed on a ventilator, and dying.

How Does the COVID-19 Virus Spread?

Virus Spread

The virus that causes COVID-19 primarily spreads through close contact with an infected person, but can also spread through aerosols that linger in the air.

When an infected person breathes, speaks, sings, coughs, or sneezes, droplets or aerosols from their respiratory tract enter the air. Viruses can then enter the mouths or noses of other individuals, or land on nearby objects. The COVID-19 virus is primarily spread by:

  • Breathing, speaking, singing, coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact (e.g., touching or shaking hands)
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
  • Rarely, fecal contamination

Close Contacts

A "close contact" is any of the following people who were exposed to a person with COVID-19*:

  • An individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
  • An individual who had unprotected contact with the infected person's body fluids and/or secretions, for example, being coughed or sneezed on, sharing utensils or saliva, or providing care without wearing appropriate protective equipment.

*A person with COVID-19, is considered to be infectious from 2 days before their symptoms first appeared until they are no longer required to be isolated (as described in Home Isolation Instructions for People with COVID-19). A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms is considered to be infectious from 2 days before their test was taken until 10 days after their test.

Individuals who have had close contact with someone diagnosed with or likely to have COVID-19 are required to follow local public health orders for quarantine. Please read Home Quarantine Guidance for Close Contacts to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for additional important details on close contacts. 

Additional Details

The incubation period for COVID-19 (the time period between getting infected and when symptoms develop) is 2-14 days. Infected individuals are most infectious when they have symptoms. However, the COVID-19 virus is also spread by infected individuals who do not have symptoms (the reason physical distancing and wearing face coverings is very important). For those who develop symptoms, the virus can be spread to others 48 hours before their symptoms appear.

Because the virus can be spread by infected individuals who do not have symptoms, in addition to physical distancing and other protective measures, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health advises that everyone "should use a clean face covering anytime they will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces. It is important to note that face coverings are not a substitute for always practicing physical distancing and frequent handwashing."

For additional details, read:

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

Many individuals do not develop symptoms. In those who do develop symptoms, symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after becoming infected.

Individuals infected with the COVID-19 virus may experience these symptoms:

  • Body or muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Other symptoms

For additional details or to use the Coronavirus Self-Checker, visit the CDC's Symptoms of Coronavirus.

What to Do if You Develop Symptoms

If you develop symptoms, you and any close contacts are required to follow these guidelines from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health

What are the Warning Signs of Serious COVID-19 Illness?

Call 911 in an emergency. Inform the dispatcher that you have/may have COVID-19.

According to the CDC, warning signs of serious illness that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail-beds, depending on skin tone
  • Other severe or concerning symptoms

For additional details, read the CDC's Symptoms of Coronavirus.

What is the Difference Between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

The flu and COVID-19 share certain features (e.g.,both are contagious viral infections that cause similar symptoms), but also have differences (e.g., COVID-19 is associated with the loss of taste and smell, trouble breathing, and more severe illness).

For these and additional details on flu and COVID-19 differences and similarities, visit the CDC's Similarities and Differences Between Flu and COVID-19.

If you develop respiratory, COVID-19 or flu symptoms:

  • Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Can Someone Have COVID-19 and the Flu at the Same Time?

Yes, it's possible to be infected with both viruses (and other infections) at the same time. Diagnostic testing can help determine what infection(s) someone has.

What About Children and What is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome?

Most children who become infected with COVID-19 either have mild or no symptoms. However, some children develop severe illness.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)

MIS-C has been diagnosed in some previously healthy children who are or have been infected with COVID-19. The condition causes potentially life-threatening swelling (inflammation) in the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, brain, skin, stomach and other organs. A child's healthcare provider should be contacted as soon as possible if they develop any of the following symptoms.


MIS-C symptoms include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Feeling extra tired
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Neck pain
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

Emergency Warning Signs: Seek Emergency Care

Immediate emergency care should be sought for children who exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Bluish lips or face
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • New confusion
  • Pain or pressure in the chest that doesn't go away
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Other concerning symptoms

Protect Children

The best protection against MIS-C is to help children avoid COVID-19 infection.

For additional information, read:

Who is at High Risk for Becoming Seriously Ill?

Certain individuals are or may be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if infected with the COVID-19 virus:

According to the CDC:

  • Older adults are at increased risk. The older you are, the higher your risk.
  • People of any age with underlying medical conditions.
    • Conditions that place individuals at increased risk for becoming seriously ill include:
      • Chronic kidney disease
      • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
      • Immunocompromised from solid organ transplant
      • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
      • Serious heart conditions (e.g., heart failure, coronary artery disease)
      • Sickle cell disease
      • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
    • Conditions that might place individuals at higher risk for becoming seriously ill include:
      • Asthma
      • Dementia and other neurologic conditions
      • Liver disease
      • Pregnancy
      • Smoking
      • Other conditions

Individuals who are or may be at higher risk should take additional precautions:

  • Stay home as much as possible and only leave home for necessities. Limit your contact with others.
  • Consult your healthcare provider.
    • Ensure you have an appropriate medication supply
    • Make sure your personal emergency plan is up-to-date
  • Contact you healthcare provider as soon as possible if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Ensure caregivers are following public health guidelines to reduce risk.

Additionally, according to the CDC, there are also other people who should take extra precautions.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself and Others?

Follow state and local public health orders.

These orders are aimed at reducing risk of spreading and getting COVID-19.

Practice Physical Distancing

Physical distancing is important to protect yourself and others. Maintain at least six feet between you and other individuals who are not members of your household. Stay home except to access or perform essential services or other allowed activities. For details, refer to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines below:

Wear Face Masks

Properly wearing a face mask is an important COVID-19 risk reduction strategy. For additional details on face coverings, read:

General Considerations

  • Stay informed.
  • Follow local public health guidelines.
  • Individuals aged 65 and older and others at higher risk should stay home except for essential needs.
  • Implement physical distancing.
    • Follow local public health officer orders
    • Avoid gatherings
    • Maintain physical distancing of at least six feet
    • Work from home, if possible - follow state and local public health guidelines if you have to go to work
    • Don't visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities
    • Use verbal salutations in place of handshakes and hugs
    • Avoid sharing utensils, cups, linens, and other items
    • Have ample supplies of essentials, such as water, food, hygiene products, medications, and pet food on hand
  • Wear clean cloth face coverings as directed.
  • Adhere to travel guidelines and restrictions.

For additional information, refer to the resources at See What it Means for You.

What Should I Do if I Plan to Participate (or Have Participated) in a Public Demonstration?

Individuals who plan to participate in public demonstrations or have participated in demonstrations may be at increased risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Consider all recommended risk reduction guidelines:

For additional information, read:

What are Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a variety of animal species. Bats, birds, camels, cats, and other animals are hosts to coronaviruses. They are also common causes of infection in people.

In humans, coronaviruses can cause mild to severe illness. For example, coronaviruses are one of the virus types that cause the common cold. A cold is generally a mild infection. In contrast, with COVID-19, the novel coronavirus causes severe illness and is responsible for more millions of deaths.

For additional details, visit the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's About COVID-19.

What is a Novel Coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus is a newly identified virus that infects and causes illness in animals or people. The problem with any novel virus is the potential to spread through populations with little to no immunity to the virus.

Examples of other novel coronavirus outbreaks include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV).

For additional details, visit the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's About COVID-19.