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​​​COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that can infect your nose, throat, and lungs.

Anyone sick with COVID-19 can have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Signs of being sick may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Possible symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea​​

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread from person to person. This can happen when a person sick with the virus breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land in their eyes, nose, or mouth. In some circumstances, a sick person may leave the virus on surfaces they touch. If others touch the surface and then touch their own mouth or nose (or someone else's mouth or nose) before washing their hands, the virus can be spread.

You can pass COVID-19 to someone else both before and while you are sick. Adults may be able to infect others before signs of being sick develop. Most people are contagious five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people pass the virus without feeling sick at all. Young children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for an even longer time.

How serious is COVID-19?

COVID-19 can cause mild to severe illness and, at times, can lead to death.

Certain people are at greater risk for serious illness if they get the COVID-19. This includes:

Being unvaccinated or not being up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations also increases your risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.
Healthcare providers should consider the patient's age, presence of underlying medical conditions, other risk factors, and vaccination status in determining the risk for severe COVID-19-associated outcomes for any patient.​

What if you are sick with COVID-19?

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home.

If you feel sick, talk to your healthcare provider about whether medication may be helpful in your case. Your provider may be able to prescribe medications that are right for you to treat COVID-19. Don't delay; treatment needs to start within 5-7 days after you first feel sick.

Using good health practices like good hygiene, staying home when you are sick, and improving your home ventilation can prevent passing the virus to others.​ Learn about other steps you can take if sick with COVID-19.

What are the complications of COVID-19?

Some people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can have long-term health concerns from their infection. Long COVID, or Post-COVID Conditions (PCC), is broadly defined as a health condition that continues or develops after a COVID-19 infection.​

Who should get vaccinated?

Everyone aged 6 months and older should talk to their doctor about getting vaccinated against serious illness from COVID-19. The updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines are each preferred equally.

Find a Vaccine Near You

Vaccines are highly encouraged for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

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COVID-19 Variants Are Expected

Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some changes and mutations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. As the virus spreads, it may change and become harder to stop.​


Pennsylvania has a number of resources to help people stay safe and healthy.​

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