What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus Disease 2019, or more commonly known as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a coronavirus discovered in 2019.
The virus spreads from person to person mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
Adults 65 years and older and people of any age with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness. For severe symptoms, call your health care provider, nearest hospital, urgent care or, if it’s an emergency, call 911.
Emergency warning signs can include:
- Fever above 100°
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Vaccination and Boosters
The benefit of vaccination and boosters is that it helps the body prevent severe illness and lessens the likelihood of needing hospitalization. Free vaccines are available for residents of Erie County ages 5 years and older.
For list of local vaccination and booster sites, visit eriecountypa.gov/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine.
For latest information and recommendations for vaccinations for children and teenagers:
Community members, vaccinated or unvaccinated, are advised to get tested for COVID-19 if they have been exposed to anyone who has COVID-19 even if they do not develop symptoms or if they have symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, difficulty breathing, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, vomiting or diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell. Testing results can help determine appropriate care and treatment if needed.
For list of local sites offering free testing, visit eriecountypa.gov/covid-19/covid-19-testing-information.
Community members using home test kits who have questions or need guidance can call 814-451-6700.
If you have a positive result, you may use this Home Test Result Reporting Form.
Ask your primary healthcare provider about treatments.
More information about treatments:
Preventing the spread of COVID-19
Guidance on Quarantine and Isolation
For questions or additional guidance, call 814-451-6700.
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Quarantine and isolation help prevent the spread of infection to others. Use these documents for information if you or someone you know, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated,
- has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19
- are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19
- are waiting for results of COVID-19 PCR testing
- are experiencing symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue or tiredness, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
Close contact. The Erie County Department of Health follows the definition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.”
Assessing the nature of every interaction in its entirety is important in determining the risk of transmission in each specific scenario. Additional factors that are considered, even if contact time is less than 15 consecutive or cumulative minutes, include:
- Being in extremely close proximity (e.g., face to face).
- Prolonged exposure time.
- Infected person exhibiting symptoms.
- Infected person generating respiratory aerosols (e.g., coughing, singing, shouting).
- Environmental conditions (e.g., crowding, inadequate ventilation, or being indoors).
Guidance on Masks
Graphics from Publichealthcollaborative.org
The use of masks help slow the spread of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly. This includes:
- Cloth Masks
- Surgical Masks
- High Filtration Masks
- Any mask is better than no mask.
- Wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.
- Choose a mask with the best fit, protection, and comfort for you.
Here is more information from the CDC:
- Latest Updates on Mask Guidance
- Different Types of Masks
- Who Should Wear a Mask
- Your Guide to Masks
- When to Wear
- How to Choose
- How to Wear
- How to Clean Reusable Masks
Fact Sheets and Information Resources
- Public Health Terminology – COVID-19
- Rumor Control from FEMA – COVID-19
- Communication Card for Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- American Sign Language (ASL) video series on COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Translated and Non-English COVID-19 Resources