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Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in humans. They are called “corona” because of crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the common cold are examples of coronaviruses that cause illness in humans.

The new strain of coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It has since spread to every country around the world.

COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. COVID-19 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, including death. The best preventive measures include getting vaccinated, wearing a mask during times of high transmission, staying 6 feet apart, washing hands often and avoiding sick people.
We’ve come a long way since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the United States. We’ve learned a lot about the virus and how to treat people who have it. We’ve also greatly increased our ability for testing. You — our communities — have made tremendous efforts to adapt, too.

The changes we’ve all made to stay safe and healthy can feel challenging. But please stay vigilant. We know it’s not easy, but it’s critical. COVID-19 shouldn't be taken lightly. While most people get only mild symptoms, others develop serious complications of the lungs, brain and heart. There may also be other long-term effects that we don’t yet know about.


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