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Is it the Common Cold or Coronavirus?

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The recent outbreak of COVID-19, or coronavirus, corresponds with cold and flu season, which may leave you questioning if you’re coming down with the common cold, or something more serious. You can learn more about COVID-19, monitor your symptoms and protect yourself and others with a few simple guidelines.


  • What is it? COVID-19, or coronavirus, presents itself as a mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
  • How can I catch it? Current understanding is that COVID-19 spreads mostly from person to person through respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. Typically, people within 6 feet of someone with an illness are at highest risk. Additionally, after coughing or sneezing, these droplets may be present on doorknobs, counters, and other surfaces. Frequent cleaning of surfaces and household items can reduce this route of viral spread.
  • How long does it take to develop symptoms? COVID-19 usually takes effect 2-14 days after exposure.

Common Cold

  • What is it? Most of us have experience the cold before and symptoms can include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, coughing, watery eyes and sore throat which is often caused by mucus dripping down your throat, also known as postnasal drip. You may also have run a fever, but this is less common with a cold.
  • How can I catch it? Viruses that cause colds can spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact or through touching a surface that has respiratory viruses on it.
  • How long does it take to develop symptoms? The cold comes on gradually with symptoms developing over time.

How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and the Common Cold

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  3. Cough or sneeze into a tissue then throw the tissue into the trash
  4. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  5. Stay home when you are sick
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects in your home and workplace

You can learn more about COVID-19 at

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