COVID-19 is a dangerous and highly contagious disease. The most common symptoms are fever and cough. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness, but it causes serious illness in about 20%. The overall risk of dying appears to be about 1%. Adults over age 65 and people with serious medical conditions have the highest risk of severe illness or death. The risk of death also is increased for people 50-64 years old, and even younger adults can develop severe illness that requires intensive care. There is no cure or vaccine, although a new antiviral drug (remdesivir) is available for emergency use in the sickest patients. The only way to stay safe from COVID-19 is to avoid getting infected.
Many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms, especially younger adults and children. People who are infected without symptoms can still spread the virus to others. The virus spreads though the air in respiratory droplets generated by talking, coughing or sneezing. The risk is highest when people are indoors and standing close (within 6 feet) of each other. The risk is especially high with prolonged contact in households, nursing homes, large workplaces, churches, and other closed indoor spaces with poor ventilation. You can protect yourself and your family by staying at home as much as possible. If you must leave home, keep a distance of at least 6 feet from other people and wear a cloth facemask. Both physical distancing and wearing a facemask are important to reduce the infection risk.
The virus can also spread by touching contaminated objects and surfaces such as door handles, cups, eating utensils and towels. Infection occurs after you touch a contaminated object and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. This is why frequent handwashing is recommended. Clean and sanitize objects and surfaces that are routinely touched.
Contact your health care provider if you develop fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches or headaches, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nasal congestion or GI symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Always call your health care provider before coming to the clinic or hospital, except in an emergency.
You can use our online screening tool if you have questions or need advice. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, stay in a separate bedroom if possible and away from household members. Follow these CDC recommendations if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick.
We are taking extraordinary steps to be ready for a large increase in COVID-19 cases. Check this page frequently for the latest updates.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Minnesota Department of Health, Johns Hopkins, Marshfield Clinic Health System
Current Situation and Recommendations
- Over 6.7 million COVID-19 cases and over 198,000 deaths have been reported in the US. In Wisconsin there have been over 101,200 cases and 1,240 deaths. The rate of COVID-19 is highest in southeastern Wisconsin and Brown County. Social distancing now helps prevent a surge of COVID-19 cases in a short time that can overwhelm hospitals and intensive care units.
- The virus spreads easily from person-to-person, similar to the flu virus. COVID-19 commonly causes fever and cough, and it may also cause shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, and headaches. Some people develop loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion or running nose, or GI symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Symptoms usually start about 4-5 days after infection, but it may take up to 14 days.
- Social distancing is important to slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay at home and stay away from other people. Wear a cloth facemask if you must leave home for groceries or essential services. Wash your hands often, use a tissue for coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your face. Use disinfectants to clean surfaces that are touched by different people.
- Marshfield Clinic Health System offers COVID-19 testing for populations based on recommendations for Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Click here for more information.
- Call your medical provider if you need care for fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, nasal congestion, or GI symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It is important to call before coming in (except in an emergency).
- For the latest public health recommendations from CDC, click here. If you are an older adult, review this CDC checklist to be prepared.