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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.  Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, coronaviruses that infect animals emerge to infect people. This is suspected of having occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that humans have not previously seen. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community ("community spread"). Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are unsure how or where they became infected.*


The virus can spread between people in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). It can also spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs. In addition, some reports show that people can spread the virus without being sick.**  An effective way to slow the spread is to practice social distancing.  Learn the difference between social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. 

Below are some tips to keep you and your family safe through this pandemic:

How to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.  CDC also recommends wearing a cloth face-covering where social distancing can be challenging (grocery stores or pharmacies).  With medical-grade facemasks reserved for healthcare workers, learn how to make your own cloth face covering.  

How to protect others:

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

  • Throw used tissues in the trash. Next, immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • If you are sick: You should wear a cloth face covering when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) before entering a healthcare provider’s office. If you cannot wear a  cloth face covering (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.**  According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can live in the air and on surfaces between several hours and several days. The study found that the virus is viable for up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard, and 4 hours on copper. It is also detectable in the air for three hours.

Multiple studies have shown that loneliness and social isolation can lead to an increased risk of substance abuse. Click on the following links to learn how to prevent alcohol and drug abuse.



During this time of social isolation, protect yourself and your loved ones from an unintentional opioid overdose by keeping Naloxone on hand. Naloxone is a safe, easy-to-use, non-addictive medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. If you or someone you know uses opioids, text NALOXONE to 55155 to find a Naloxone distributor near you.

Treatment is available for those who are suffering from opioid addiction. To locate a treatment facility near you, visit Some treatment facilities are still open during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We recommend calling before you visit to ensure their hours of operation have not changed due to COVID-19.

For more information, call the COVID-19 24-Hour Call Center at 877.215.8336 or 211.

Below are some resources that can help you navigate through this health crisis:

1. Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Mental Health Guide to COVID-19:


2. Daily Life and Coping Tips from the CDC:


3. Oklahoma COVID-19 Resources:


4. Oklahoma State Department of Health Resources and Recommendations:


5. SAMHSA's COVID-19 Guidance and Resources:

6. Suicide Prevention Lifeline - Emotional Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Outbreak:

7. Indian Health Service - The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives:

*   Source: Oklahoma State Department of Health's Frequently Asked Questions - COVID-19 Basics

** Source: CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 - Prevent Getting Sick

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