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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. It is not unusual for symptoms to worsen the second or third week after improving or going away. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • 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

This list does not include all possible symptoms. For the most up to date list of symptoms, please visit CDC Symptoms of Coronavirus.

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
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blu-colored skin, lips, or nail beds depending on skin tone

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 living or working in a high risk Community Level
  • 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
  • People of any age with certain underlying medical conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, HIV, any condition that affects the immune system, persons with body mass index over 30, persons with liver disease, persons who live in long term care)
  • Children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease
  • Although the overall risk of severe illness is low, pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people.

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

Page last updated: March 28, 2022