Symptoms and Risk

Most people will have mild effects from the virus, but it can cause severe illness and pneumonia in others. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness. This list is not all inclusive. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you develop any of these emergency warning signs for the disease, you should seek medical attention immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency. Notify the operator that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a mask or cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Symptom Self-Checkers

The CDC provides a guide to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. Visit the CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have created a symptom tracker to identify hot spots where the virus is spreading. The UAB symptom tracker provides public health officials insight into underserved areas based on the symptomatic data collected from the region and could help inform and enhance public health observation. Visit to track your symptoms daily.

People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions

Any person can contract the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). However, certain populations are more at risk such as:

  • People who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19, for example healthcare workers, or household members.
  • Persons over 65 years of age and those with serious health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, HIV, any condition that affects the immune system, persons with body mass index over 40, persons with liver disease, persons who live in long term care).

Learn more about higher and other risk populations and what you can do from the CDC.

Page last updated: May 27, 2020