COVID-19 Transmission, Symptoms and Prevention

For questions about COVID-19, please call the Information Hotline at 636-949-1899.

COVID-19: Transmission and Symptoms 


Medical experts advise that human coronaviruses are most commonly spread through:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact with infected persons
  • Touching an object or surface containing the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing hands

Common Symptoms

The causative agent for COVID-19 is a coronavirus, and symptoms reported are similar to cold and flu suffers, including:

Symptoms are typically found 2-14 days following exposure. Illness reports from COVID-19 patients range from little or no symptoms to severe illness and even death. Older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disease and other respiratory ailments appear to be at a greater risk for developing severe illness.

Similarities and Differences Between COVID-19, Influenza and the Common Cold

COVID-19, influenza (the flu) and the common cold are all contagious respiratory illnesses spread by viruses; but these are all caused by different viruses. Because the three share many symptoms, testing is the most effective way to confirm diagnosis.

There are many similar symptoms among the three, but some key differences as well. The most important difference is the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading faster and leading to more severe health problems than the other two viruses. Both influenza and COVID-19 have vaccines available to minimize the spread and severity of the illness. An annual flu shot and various vaccine options for COVID-19 are available.

Cold vs Flu vs COVID 19_infographic

Prevention Tips

Along with receiving the vaccine, it's important to follow recommended preventative actions:

  • Regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry hands thoroughly.
  • Use a 60% or greater alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with household sanitizer according to product directions.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze.
  • Stay home when sick, except to seek medical attention.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Prepare for possible isolation requirements by collecting personal and family emergency supplies.
  • Know employer, school and childcare attendance/sick-leave policies.
  • Wear a face covering to help stop the spread.
  • Improve the ventilation if spending time indoors.
    • If safe to do so, open windows and/or doors to bring in fresh air.
    • Improve the filtration of the HVAC system and change filters according to manufacturer's recommendations.
    • Use an exhaust system to improve ventilation.

Protect the Most Vulnerable

Those most vulnerable include people 60 years of age and older and people with chronic medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If you are a caretaker for those who are in these groups, monitor them for these COVID-19 symptoms: 

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Persistent chest pressure or pain
  • New confusion or lethargy 
  • Bluish lips, face or fingertips

If these symptoms appear, call their doctor’s office and follow his or her instructions. Do not go to an emergency room or urgent care without first speaking with the doctor’s office unless symptoms are severe. If you can’t reach them, call 911.

For additional information, please visit: