How COVID-19 Spreads

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States.


How COVID-19  Spreads

Person-to-person spread

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 or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Watch for symptoms

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Business Information

The following businesses and operations remain closed as of May 15, 2020, as part of Ohio’s plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • K-12 schools.
  • Childcare services (permitted to reopen May 31).
  • Restaurants and bars dine-in service.
    • Carry-out and delivery services are permitted.
    • Outdoor dining is permitted.
    • Dine-in service permitted May 21.
  • Older adult day care services and senior centers.
  • Adult day support or vocational habilitation services in congregate settings.
  • Rooming and boarding houses, and workers’ camps.
  • Entertainment/recreation/gymnasium sites.
    • Includes, but is not limited to:
      • All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, such as:
        • Laser tag facilities, roller skating rinks, ice skating rinks, arcades, indoor miniature golf facilities, bowling alleys, indoor trampoline parks, indoor water parks, arcades, and adult and child skill or chance game facilities remain closed.
        • Gambling industries. (Horse racing is permitted without spectators May 22.)
        • Auditoriums, stadiums, arenas.
        • Movie theatres, performance theatres, and concert and music halls.
        • Public recreation centers and indoor sports facilities.
        • Parades, fairs, festivals, and carnivals.
        • Amusement parks, theme parks, outdoor water parks, children’s play centers, playgrounds, and funplexes.
        • Aquariums, zoos, museums, historical sites, and similar institutions.
        • Country clubs and social clubs.
  • Spectator sports, recreational sports tournaments and organized recreational sports leagues. (Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues are permitted to reopen May 26.)
  • Health clubs, fitness centers, workout facilities, gyms, and yoga studios (permitted to reopen May 26).
  • Swimming pools, whether public or private, except swimming pools for single households. (Public pools and club pools regulated by local health departments are permitted to reopen May 26.)
  • Residential and day camps.
  • Campgrounds, including recreational camps and recreational vehicle (RV) parks (permitted to reopen May 21).
    • Excludes people living in campground RVs with no other viable place of residence.
    • Excludes people living in cabins, mobile homes, or other fixed structures that are meant for single families and where preexisting residential activity already has been established. (E.g., for people who have part-time preestablished residences at campgrounds for the summer months.)

For answers to your COVID-19 questions, call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).