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Basic terms: What is COVID-19 and how can it affect me?

For more information, call the state coronavirus hotline 1-800-889-3931

FILE - This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The coronavirus outbreak has exposed a seeming disconnect between the financial markets and science. Health experts are uncertain how far the virus out of China will spread and how bad the crisis will get, yet stock markets are rallying as if they’re not expecting more than a modest hit to the global economy. (CDC via AP, File)
FILE - This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The coronavirus outbreak has exposed a seeming disconnect between the financial markets and science. Health experts are uncertain how far the virus out of China will spread and how bad the crisis will get, yet stock markets are rallying as if they’re not expecting more than a modest hit to the global economy. (CDC via AP, File)

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Public health officials announced Tuesday two cases of COVID-19 in McHenry and Kane counties which appear to be the first community-spread cases in Illinois, and the first outside Cook County.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during a news conference on Tuesday that neither case has any known contact with the previous 11 cases of COVID-19. A male teenager from McHenry County, and a woman in her 60s from Kane County were confirmed as the first two cases of coronavirus outside of Cook County in Illinois.

The total coronavirus cases in Illinois now stands at 19.

Shaw Media Illinois has compiled basic terms, utilizing information from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help keep you informed, calm and up-to-date as coronavirus spreads outside of the Chicago area. For a full list of FAQs, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

For more information, call the state coronavirus hotline 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new, novel strain of coronavirus which is closely related to other more severe forms of coronavirus, a respiratory illness. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses mostly found in animals. Rare cases have occurred where an animal infection will evolve to infect humans, such as what happened with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Such an instance is thought to have occured in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province of China.

What are the symptoms?
Unlike the flu or a common cold, COVID-19 symptoms typically don't come with a runny nose or sneezing. Instead, look out for a higher fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath. Cases can also sometimes cause lower-respiratory track illnesses, such a pneumonia or bronchitis.

How is coronavirus spread?
Current research posits that COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets, which you can come into contact with via a handshake, not covering your mouth when you cough or speak, physical contact with others or possibly touching a surface someone infected with he virus has touched and then touching your hands to your nose, mouth or eyes.

Close contact is defined by the CDC as being within six feet of a COVID-19 patient for a prolonged period of time.

There is no evidence to support that the virus can be spread through food.

What does "community spread" mean?
Community spread, as suspected in the latest cases announced Tuesday in McHenry and Kane counties, means people who have been infected with a COVID-19 who had no known contact with any other infected people.

What does quarantine mean?
Public Health officials are currently holding patients who are confirmed to have COVID-19 in isolation, meaning they're unable to socialize in person or have physical contact with others. In these cases, public health officials create a web of people known to have interacted with the infected patient, and those people then self-quarantine, meaning they confine themselves to an isolated area (home, hospital, etc.) for up to 14 days to monitor in case symptoms develop, and to prevent further spread.

Why 14 days?
Two weeks is the longest incubation period known so far for a coronavirus case. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last known date of exposure.

How do I know if i should be tested for COVID-19?
If you feel sick with the described symptoms, or have been in close contact with a person known to have coronavirus, or have traveled in an infected area, call your healthcare professional who will work with the state's public health department.

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