Coronavirus Disease 2019, COVID-19, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2

Interview between:

  • Christine Kerr, MD

  • Jamila Schwartz, MD

COVID is an infectious disease, caused by a strain of coronavirus that was first seen in 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) first declared COVID a pandemic in March 2020. As of January 2023, the disease was responsible for over 6 million deaths worldwide.

Cases Per Year (US)

More than 100 million cases (as of January 2023).

General Frequency

While testing rates and asymptomatic cases can affect these numbers, it’s currently estimated that about half of the US population has had COVID.


While many people who have COVID develop mild symptoms, some groups, such as older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions, can develop more serious complications.


What are the symptoms of COVID?

What are the symptoms of COVID?

People with COVID can experience a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Some people have no symptoms at all. The most common of these include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and fatigue. Other symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, lack of smell or taste, rashes, and headache are also seen. After exposure, symptoms typically start within five days, but they can sometimes take up to 14 days to appear.

Some people have severe or life-threatening symptoms and require hospitalization. While severe COVID is more common in older people or people with underlying medical problems, even young, healthy people can develop severe disease.

Sometimes after COVID infection, people develop long-term symptoms, including persistent fatigue, depression, shortness of breath, or weakness, sometimes called “long COVID” or “post-COVID conditions.” This is more common after people have had severe COVID, but it can be seen even with mild cases of COVID. We’re still learning more about how common this is, what it can look like, and how best to help people who are experiencing persistent symptoms after COVID infection.

How does COVID spread?  

COVID spreads mainly through small droplets and particles that are released when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes on or talks to another individual nearby (or within six feet).

Rarely, the act of touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes can spread the virus.

Anyone with COVID can be contagious, and about 20% of infected people do not show any symptoms or may not have developed symptoms yet.


COVID Testing


Treatments for COVID


Distancing and Masks


Vaccination and Antibodies

Connect with our physicians

Christine Kerr, MD and Jamila Schwartz, MD are both members of the Galileo Clinical Team. Connect with one of our physicians about COVID or any of the many other conditions we treat.

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