Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information


Many locations across the world are experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. This virus can spread from person to person and the number of cases detected in the United States and many other countries is growing. Currently, the immediate risk to the general public in Florida is considered to be low.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses have caused more severe illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus that was not identified in humans before December 2019.

What are common symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It takes 2 to 14 days after the virus enters a person’s body for him or her to become ill. COVID-19 is a new disease, and health officials are learning more each day about its symptoms and how it is spread.

How does the virus spread?

Most often, it is spread from person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or their eyes. Often, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

What can I do to prevent COVID-19 infections?

You can help students and staff reduce their risk of contracting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, by encouraging them to take simple steps which will also prevent COVID-19. These include:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after they blow their nose. Help young children do the same. If hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water to clean hands
  • If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and clean hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (if soap and water are not readily available)
  • Strongly consider getting a flu shot during the flu season

Additional targeted information that may prove helpful:

If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19:

The Florida Department of Health has dedicated a COVID-19 Call Center for the public that can be reached at 1-866-779-6121. This Call Center is available 24 hours a day. There is also a dedicated email address: for inquiries.