COVID-19 Basics


What Are Coronaviruses? 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can lead to illness in humans and animals. Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and can cause mild to moderate illness, like the common cold. Symptoms of infection by a coronavirus include: 

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection most commonly include: 

  • fever of 100.4 or higher
  • chills
  • stiff joints and/or muscle ache
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • cough or shortness of breath
  • loss of taste
  • diarrhea (that does not have another cause)

The symptoms of coronavirus may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses)

Disease Transmission 

Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person through cough and sneezing, closer personal contact, such as shaking hands, touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on it, and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing hands. 

Coronaviruses are common and many laboratory test results doctors order may show a positive coronavirus infection. That infection is not the same as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Know how it spreads

  • Find information from the CDC HERE
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
    • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

You can help stop the spread of germs (pdf) that lead to illness by:

  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Washing your hands 
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick 
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a cloth mask when out in public
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

What to do if you are sick

Call your doctor

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has and is sick with COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Call the Riley County Screening Line

You can also get healthcare advice, including information about how to get tested, by calling the Riley County Screening Line at 785-323-6400. A nurse is available to speak with you Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. There is no charge for this service.

Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider.

  • Keep track of your symptoms.
  • If you have an emergency warning sign(including trouble breathing), get emergency medical care immediately.

When to quarantine:

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow their state or local health department directions. 

Quarantine for 10 days if:

  • You have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • You are waiting for test results
  • You have cough, fever, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  • You have recently traveled from somewhere where there are a lot of positive cases


When is it safe to be around others after being sick with COVID-19?

Deciding when it is safe to be around others is different for different situations. Find out when you can safely end home isolation.

What Is the Riley County Health Department Doing?

Riley County has activated what is known as a Unified Command under the National Incident Management System. We are all working closely with the MHK Clinical Task Force, city, and county governments in addition to schools and universities, law enforcement agencies, first responders, human service providers and others to protect the safety, health and well-being of all Riley County residents and to provide critical services.  

Read Local Health Orders HERE