FAQs

COVID-19

frequently asked questions

COVID-19 FAQS

Corona Disease 2019 basics  

What is a Novel Coronavirus?

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Why is the disease being called coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19?

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.

COVID-19 FAQS

How it Spreads

How does the virus spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 most commonly spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet, or 2 arm lengths).
It spreads through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.
These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Droplets can also land on surfaces and objects and be transferred by touch. A person may get COVID-19 by touching the surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

It is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes). In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months.  At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer.  There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

 

What is community spread?

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Each health department determines community spread differently based on local conditions. 

can mosquitoes or ticks spread the virus that causes covid-19?

At this time, CDC has no data to suggest that this new coronavirus or other similar coronaviruses are spread by mosquitoes or ticks. The main way that COVID-19 spreads is from person to person. See How Coronavirus Spreads for more information.

COVID-19 FAQS

How to protect yourself

How can i help protect myself?

Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.

Does CDC recommend the use of facemask to prevent COVID-19?

Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

While people who are sick or know that they have COVID-19 should isolate at home, COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from other people) and wear cloth face coverings in public settings. Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

More information about cloth face coverings can be found on our cloth face coverings site.

is it safe to get care for my other medical conditions during this time?

  • It is important to continue taking care of your health and wellness.
  • Continue your medications, and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
  • Continue to manage your disease the way your healthcare provider has told you.
  • Have at least a 2-week supply of all prescription and non-prescription medications.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether your vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Call your healthcare provider
    • if you have any concerns about your medical conditions, or if you get sick.
    • to find out about different ways you can connect with your healthcare provider for chronic disease management or other conditions.
  • Do not delay getting emergency care for your health problems or any health condition that requires immediate attention.
    • If you need emergency help, call 911.
    • Emergency departments have infection prevention plans to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need care for your medical condition.
  • Continue to practice everyday prevention. Wash your hands often, avoid close contact, wear a cloth face covering, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.

For more information, see Groups at Higher Risk for Severe Illness.

Am i at risk for COVID-19 from Mail, packages, or products?

There is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging. However, it may be possible that people 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.

Learn more about safe handling of deliveries and mail.

Is it okay for me to donate blood?

In healthcare settings all across the United States, donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients. The need for donated blood is constant, and blood centers are open and in urgent need of donations. CDC encourages people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19. CDC is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe. Examples of these recommendations include spacing donor chairs 6 feet apart, thoroughly adhering to environmental cleaning practices, and encouraging donors to make donation appointments ahead of time.

 

should contact lens wearers take special precautions to prevent covid-19?

Currently there is no evidence to suggest contact lens wearers are more at risk for acquiring COVID-19 than eyeglass wearers.

Contact lens wearers should continue to practice safe contact lens wear and care hygiene habits to help prevent against transmission of any contact lens-related infections, such as always washing hands with soap and water before handling lenses.

People who are healthy can continue to wear and care for their contact lenses as prescribed by their eye care professional.

Find more information about how coronavirus spreads and how to protect yourself.

Visit CDC’s contact lens website for more information on healthy contact lens wear and care.

is contact lens disinfecting solution effective against covid-19

  • Hydrogen peroxide-based systems for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses should be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.
    • For other disinfection methods, such as multipurpose solution and ultrasonic cleaners, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to determine efficacy against the virus.
  • Always use solution to disinfect your contact lenses and case to kill germs that may be present.
  • Handle your lenses over a surface that has been cleaned and disinfected.

Find more information about how coronavirus spreads and how to protect yourself.

Visit CDC’s contact lens website for more information on healthy contact lens wear and care.

should i use soap and water or hand sanitizer to protect against covid-19?

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

what cleaning products should i use to protect against covid-19?

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.  If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. See CDC’s recommendations for household cleaning and disinfection.

What should I do if someone in my house gets sick with COVID-19?

Most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. CDC has directions for people who are recovering at home and their caregivers, including:

  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs*:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face
    • *This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.
  • Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
  • Clean hands regularly by handwashing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Provide your sick household member with clean disposable facemasks to wear at home, if available, to help prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.
  • Clean the sick room and bathroom, as needed, to avoid unnecessary contact with the sick person.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like utensils, food, and drinks.

 

What should I do if I have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.

COVId-19 faqs

COVID-19 and children

What is the risk of my child becoming sick with COVID-19?

Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and can get sick with COVID-19. Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or they may have no symptoms at all (“asymptomatic”). Fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults. However, children with certain underlying medical conditions and infants (less than 1 year old) might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Some children have developed a rare but serious disease that is linked to COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

 

Should children wear masks?

In general, children 2 years and older should wear a mask. However, CDC recognizes that wearing masks may not be possible in every situation or for some people. Appropriate and consistent use of masks may be challenging for some children, such as children with certain disabilities, including cognitive, intellectual, developmental, sensory and behavioral disorders. Learn more about what you should do if your child or you cannot wear masks in certain situations.

What is multi system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)?

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a serious condition associated with COVID-19 where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. For information, see MIS-C.

Can my child hang out with their friends during the pandemic?

The more people your child interacts with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. While your child may spend time with other people when they return to childcare or school settings, reducing the number of people your child interacts with outside people within your household, childcare facility or school can reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC recommends children 2 years of age and older wear a mask in public settings or when around people who do not live in their household, especially when it is difficult to stay at least 6 feet from others. However, masks should not be a substitute for other preventive measures such as frequent hand washing and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

For more information, see Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Children and considerations for Daily Activities.

Can my child spend time with older adults and people with chronic medical conditions?

Older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19.

  • If you live with people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, consider separating your child from them if your child has frequent interactions with those outside the household (like at schools or other settings).
  • Consider postponing visits or trips to see grandparents, older family members, or family members with underlying medical conditions while there are high levels of transmission (or high number of COVID-19 cases) in your community.
  • If your child does visit someone who is older or has an underlying medical condition that puts that them at risk of severe illness, your child should stay at least 6 feet away from that person. If your child is 2 years or older, he or she should also wear a mask.
  • Take steps to help protect your child from COVID-19 in order to reduce the risk of your child spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others especially people at increased risk of severe illness.

My child has an underlying medical condition. What additional steps should my family take?

People of any age who have certain underlying medical conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In addition to following the recommendations to prevent getting sick, families can take steps recommended for children with underlying conditions.

  • Consider identifying potential alternative caregivers, in case you or other regular caregivers become sick and are unable to care for your child. If possible, these alternative caregivers should not be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 For more information, see Sick Parents and Caregivers. Make sure these caregivers take extra precautions if your child has a disability.
  • If your child receives any support care services in the home, such as services from personal care attendants, direct support professionals, or therapists, make plans for what you will do if your child’s direct care providers or anyone in your family gets sick. You can review CDC’s recommendations for Direct Service Providers.

For more information, see Children and Teens and Others who Need Extra Precautions.

COVID-19 FAQS

Preparing Your home for COVID-19

How can i prepare for an outbreak in my area?

Create a household plan of action to help protect your health and the health of those you care about in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community:

  • Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan, and discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community.
  • Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications, particularly older adults and those with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
    • Make sure they have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • Get to know your neighbors and find out if your neighborhood has a website or social media page to stay connected.
  • Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, healthcare services, support, and resources.
  • Create an emergency contact list of family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

 

How can I prepare for COVID-19 at work?

Plan for potential changes at your workplace. Talk to your employer about their emergency operations plan, including sick-leave policies and telework options. Learn how businesses and employers can plan for and respond to COVID-19.

Should I make my own hand sanitizer if I can't find it in the stores?

CDC does not encourage the production and use of homemade hand sanitizer products because of concerns over the correct use of the ingredients and the need to work under sterile conditions to make the product. Local industries that are looking into producing hand sanitizer to fill in for commercial shortages can refer to the World Health Organization guidance. Organizations should revert to the use of commercially produced, FDA-approved product once such supplies again become available.

  • To be effective against killing some types of germs, hand sanitizers need to have a strength of at least 60% alcohol and be used when hands are not visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Do not rely on “Do It Yourself” or “DIY” recipes based solely on essential oils or formulated without correct compounding practices.
  • Do not use hand sanitizer to disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. See CDC’s information for cleaning and sanitizing your home.

covid-19 faqs

symptoms & emergency warning signs

what are the symptoms and complications that covid-19 can cause?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. 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. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Read more about COVID-19 Symptoms.

When should I seek emergency care if I have COVID-19

Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

is it possible to have the flu and covid-19 at the same time?

Yes. It is possible to test positive for flu (as well as other respiratory infections) and COVID-19 at the same time.

covid-19 faqs

testing

should i be tested for covid-19?

Maybe; not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first. Most people will have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care and may not need to be tested.

CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are made by state and local health departments and healthcare providers.

You can also visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing.

How can I get tested for a current infection (viral test) and what does my test mean?

Decisions about testing are made by state and local health departments or healthcare providers. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are not tested, it is important to stay home. What to do if you are sick.

COVID-19 testing differs by location. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first. You can also visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized viral tests that let you collect either a nasal swab or a saliva sample at home. However, you will still need to send your sample to a laboratory for analysis.

If you test positive for COVID-19, know what protective steps to take if you are sick or caring for someone.

If you test negative for COVID-19, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. You might test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during your illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. This means you could still spread the virus. If you develop symptoms later, you might need another test to determine if you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

For more information about viral tests, please visit Test for Current Infection.

How can I get tested for a past infection (antibody test) and what does my test mean?

Antibody tests for COVID-19 are available through healthcare providers and laboratories. Check with your healthcare provider to see if they offer antibody tests and whether you should get one.

A positive test result shows you might have antibodies from an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. However, there is a chance a positive result means that you have antibodies from an infection with a virus from the same family of viruses (called coronaviruses), such as the one that causes the common cold.

Having antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 might provide protection from getting infected with the virus again. If it does, we do not know how much protection the antibodies might provide or how long this protection might last.

You should continue to protect yourself and others since you could get infected with the virus again.

If you test negative, you might not have ever had COVID-19. Talk with your healthcare provider about your test result and the type of test you took to understand what your result means.

Regardless of whether you test positive or negative, the results do not confirm whether or not you are able to spread the virus that causes COVID-19. Until we know more, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others.

If you want more information about antibody tests, see Test for Past Infection.

can someone test negative and later test positive on a viral test for covid-19?

Yes, it is possible. You may test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during this illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then. Even if you test negative, you still should take steps to protect yourself and others. See Testing for Current Infection for more information.

covid-19 faqs

people at higher risk for severe illness

Who is at higher risk for serious illness from covid-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

are there any medications i should avoid taking if i have covid-19?

Currently, there is no evidence to show that taking ibuprofen or naproxen can lead to a more severe infection of COVID-19.

People with high blood pressure should take their blood pressure medications, as directed, and work with their healthcare provider to make sure that their blood pressure is as well controlled as possible. Any changes to your medications should only be made by your healthcare provider.

are people with disabilities at higher risk?

Most people with disabilities are not inherently at higher risk for becoming infected with or having severe illness from COVID-19.  Some people with physical limitations or other disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection because of their underlying medical condition.

  • People with certain disabilities might experience higher rates of chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious illness and poorer outcomes from COVID-19. Adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities.

You should talk with your healthcare provider if you have a question about your health or how your health condition is being managed.

covid-19 faqs

contact tracing

what is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious disease. In general, contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and their contacts (people who may have been exposed) and working with them to interrupt disease transmission. For COVID-19, this includes asking cases to isolate and contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily.

Contact tracing for COVID-19 typically involves

  • Interviewing people with COVID-19 to identify everyone with whom they had close contact during the time they may have been infectious,
  • Notifying contacts of their potential exposure,
  • Referring contacts for testing,
  • Monitoring contacts for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and
  • Connecting contacts with services they might need during the self-quarantine period.

To prevent the further spread of disease, COVID-19 contacts are encouraged to stay home and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others until 14 days after their last exposure to a person with COVID-19. Contacts should monitor themselves by checking their temperature twice daily and watching for symptoms of COVID-19.

what will happen with my personal information during contact tracing?

Discussions with health department staff are confidential. This means that your personal and medical information will be kept private and only shared with those who may need to know, like your health care provider.

Your name will not be revealed to those you came in contact with. The health department will only notify your close contacts that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. How data are collected, stored, and shared are specific to each state or jurisdiction.

who is considered a close contact to someone with covid-19?

For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated.

am i considered a close contact if i was wearing a mask?

Yes, you are still considered a close contact even if you were wearing a mask while you were around someone with COVID-19. Masks are meant to protect other people in case you are infected, and not to protect you from becoming infected.

If I am a close contact, will I be tested for COVID-19?

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should be tested, even if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19. The health department may be able to provide resources for testing in your area.

  • While you are waiting for your COVID-19 test result, stay home away from others (self-quarantine) and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 to protect your friends, family, and others from possibly getting COVID-19.
  • If your test is positive, you should continue to stay home and self-isolate away from others and monitor your health. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and they worsen or become severe, you should seek emergency medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face. Someone from the health department may call you to
    • Check on your health,
    • Discuss who you have been around, and
    • Ask where you have spent time while you may have been able to spread COVID-19 to others.
  • If your test is negative and you don’t have symptoms, you should continue to stay home and self-quarantine away from others for 14 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 and follow all recommendations from the health department. This is important because symptoms can appear up to 14 days after you’ve been exposed and are infected. A negative result before the end of your quarantine period does not rule out possible infection. Additionally, you do not need a repeat test unless you develop symptoms, or if you require a test to return to work.
  • If your test is negative and you have symptoms, you should continue to self-quarantine away from others for 14 days after your last exposure to COVID-19 and follow all recommendations from the health department. Additional medical consultation and a second test may be needed if your symptoms do not improve.

What will happen during contact tracing if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the health department may call you to check on your health, discuss who you have been around, and ask where you spent time while you may have been able to spread COVID-19 to others. You will also be asked to continue to stay at home and self-isolate, away from others.

  • Your name will not be shared with those you came in contact with.
  • The health department staff will not ask you for
    • Money
    • Social Security number
    • Bank account information
    • Salary information, or
    • Credit card numbers
  • Self-isolation means staying at home in a specific room away from other people and pets, and using a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Self-isolation helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and can help protect the health of your family, friends, neighbors, and others you may come in contact.
  • If you need support or assistance while in self-isolation, your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.

Watch for or monitor your symptoms of COVID-19. If your symptoms worsen or become severe, you should seek medical care.

What will happen during contact tracing if I have been around someone with COVID-19

If you were around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, someone from the health department may call you to let you know that you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Stay home away from others for 14 days (self-quarantine) after your last contact with that person. Health department staff will help identify the dates for your self-quarantine. Health department staff can also provide resources for COVID-19 testing in your area.

  • Self-quarantine means staying home away from others and monitoring your health.
  • If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask. This will help protect the people around you.
  • If you need support or assistance while in self-quarantine, your health department or community organizations may be able to provide assistance.

Monitor your health and watch for symptoms of COVID-19. Remember, symptoms may appear 2-14 days after you were exposed to COVID-19. Tell the health department if you develop any symptoms. Tell people you were around recently if you become ill, so they can monitor their health. If your symptoms worsen or become severe, seek medical care. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.

The health department staff will not ask you for

  • Money
  • Social Security number
  • Bank account information
  • Salary information, or
  • Credit card numbers

I was around someone who has COVID-19, and my COVID-19 test came back negative. Do I still need to quarantine for 14 days after I was last exposed?

Yes.You should still self-quarantine for 14 days since your last exposure. It can take up to 14 days after exposure to the virus for a person to develop COVID-19 symptoms. A negative result before end of the 14-day quarantine period does not rule out possible infection. By self-quarantining for 14 days, you lower the chance of possibly exposing others to COVID-19.

I was recently around someone who has COVID-19, but I feel fine. Why should I stay at home?

People with COVID-19 can still spread the virus even if they don’t have any symptoms. If you were around someone who had COVID-19, it is critical that you stay home and away from others for 14 days from the last day that you were around that person. Staying home and away from others at all times helps your health department in the fight against COVID-19 and helps protect you, your family, and your community.

what if i have been someone who was identified as a close contact?

If you have been around someone who was identified as a close contact to a person with COVID-19, closely monitor yourself for any symptoms of COVID-19. You do not need to self-quarantine unless you develop symptoms or if the person identified as a close contact develops COVID-19.

Will there be a national app for contact tracing?

No, there will not be a national app for contact tracing. There are many options available now, and it is up to each state and individual to decide which tools best fit their needs.

If I participate in contact tracing for COVID-19 using a digital tool, is my personal health information secure?

Yes, if you agree to participate in contact tracing for COVID-19 with the health department, your information is secure.
Discussions with health department staff are confidential. This means that your personal and medical information will be kept private and only shared with those who may need to know, like your health care provider. Your name will not be shared with those you came in contact with. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the health department will only notify people you were in close contact with that they might have been exposed to COVID-19.

Health departments may use case management tools to help make the contact tracing process more efficient. If you choose to provide information through one of these tools, your information is secure and stored with the health department. These tools also help health departments quickly receive and analyze information about COVID-19. Case management tools are under the same laws and regulations for all sensitive health information use (e.g. HIPPA). You must provide consent for the health department to collect information using a case management tool. Just like traditional contact tracing, digital tools will not collect information regarding money, Social Security numbers, bank account information, salary information, or credit card numbers.

Exposure notification tools may be an app that you can download on your personal cell phone. If you choose to download an exposure notification app for COVID-19, your information is secure. Exposure notification apps are developed in collaboration with or endorsed by health departments. These apps undergo rigorous testing to determine their trustworthiness, security, and ability to protect people’s privacy. Until you give consent to share information with your local health department, any information you have entered into the app is stored only on your personal phone. Your information is stored only on your own phone and is not sent to the health department or any other third party. The app and your information can be deleted any time. When you consent to share your information with the local health department, your information is secure.

Will I be required to download a contact tracing app for COVID-19 on my phone?

No, you are not required to download an app to give information for contact tracing for COVID-19. Health departments commonly use case management tools to make the contact tracing process more efficient. These types of tools are not downloaded on personal cell phones.

If you choose to give information to your local or state health department for contact tracing for COVID-19, you do not need to download an app on your cell phone. The health department staff may call you to

  • Check on your health,
  • Discuss who you have been around, and
  • Ask where you have spent time while you may have been able to spread COVID-19 to others.

It is up to you to decide if you download an exposure notification app for COVID-19.

covid-19 faqs

cleaning and disinfection

Do cars and boosters seats need extra cleaning and disinfection to prevent spread of COVID-19? If so, how should car seats and boosters seats be cleaned and disinfect?

It may be possible that people 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 isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads. CDC recommends cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and frequent handwashing or the use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as best practice measures for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses.

Some cleaning and disinfection products are not recommended for use on car seats and booster seats. Owners should follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for their car seats and booster seats.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the United States. Always buckle children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts when riding in a vehicle.

what is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning with soap and water removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

is it safe to vacuum in a school, business, or community facility after someone with suspected or confirmed covid-19 has been present?

The risk of transmitting or spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, during vacuuming is unknown. At this time, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 associated with vacuuming. If vacuuming is necessary or required in a school, business, or community facility that was used by a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, first follow the CDC recommendations for Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities that apply, which includes a wait time of 24 hours, or as long as practical.

After cleaning and disinfection, the following recommendations may help reduce the risk to workers and other individuals when vacuuming:

  • Consider removing smaller rugs or carpets from the area completely, so there is less that needs to be vacuumed.
  • Use a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available.
  • Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it. Wait until the room or space is empty to vacuum, such as at night, for common spaces, or during the day for private rooms.
  • Consider temporarily turning off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.

what is routine cleaning? how frequently should facilities be cleaned to reduce the potential spread of covid-19?

Routine cleaning is the everyday cleaning practices that businesses and communities normally use to maintain a healthy environment. Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, bathroom surfaces, and handrails, should be cleaned with soap and water or another detergent at least daily when facilities are in use. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use. For example, certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use. Cleaning removes dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs, but it reduces the number of germs on a surface.

who should clean and disinfect the community spaces?

Regular cleaning staff can clean and disinfect community spaces. Cleaning staff should be trained on appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection chemicals and provided with the personal protective equipment (PPE) required for the chemicals used.

how effective are alternative disinfection methods, such as ultrasonic waves, high intensity uv radiation, and led blue light?

The efficacy of these disinfection methods against the virus that causes COVID-19 is not known. EPA only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List N against the virus that causes COVID-19. EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, such as UV lights, LED lights, or ultrasonic devices. Therefore, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19.

can sanitizing tunnels be used at building entrances or exits to prevent the spread of covid-19?

DC does not recommend the use of sanitizing tunnels. There is no evidence that they are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Chemicals used in sanitizing tunnels could cause skin, eye, or respiratory irritation or damage.

should sidewalks and roads be disinfected to prevent covid-19?

CDC does not recommend disinfection of sidewalks or roads. Spraying disinfectant on sidewalks and roads is not an efficient use of disinfectant supplies and has not been proven to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public. The risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 from these surfaces is very low and disinfection is not effective on these surfaces.

covid-19 faqs

community mitigation

what is community mitigation?

Community mitigation activities are actions that people and communities can take to slow the spread of infectious diseases, and prepare for it if it occurs, including COVID-19. Community mitigation is especially important before a vaccine or drug becomes widely available.

For more information, see Community Mitigation Framework.

what are community mitigation actions for covid-19?

For individuals

  • Washing hands often
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and practicing social distancing
  • Covering mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily

    For communities

  • Promoting behaviors that prevent spread
  • Maintaining healthy environments
  • Maintaining healthy operations
  • Preparing for when someone gets sick
  • Closing businesses and schools and limiting other services

    For more information, see Community Mitigation Framework.

who is involved in community mitigation actions?

Individual people, communities, schools, businesses, and healthcare organizations have a role to play in community mitigation. Policies*, which include limits on large gatherings, restrictions on businesses, and school closures are often needed to fully put in place community mitigation strategies.

Each community is unique. Because some actions can be very disruptive to daily life, mitigation activities will be different depending on how much disease has spread within the community, what the community population is like, and the ability to take these actions at the local level. To identify appropriate activities, all parts of a community that might be affected need to be considered, including populations most vulnerable to severe illness, and those who might be more affected socially or economically. When selecting mitigation activities, states and communities need to consider the spread of disease locally, characteristics of the people who live in the community (for example, age groups, languages spoken, overall health status), and the kind of public health resources and healthcare systems (like hospitals) that are available in the community. State and local officials may need to adjust community mitigation activities and immediately take steps to scale them up or down depending on the changing local situation.

Putting mitigation into practice is based on

  • Emphasizing individual responsibility for taking recommended personal-level actions
  • Empowering businesses, schools, and community organizations to take recommended actions, particularly in ways that protect persons at increased risk of severe illness
  • Focusing on settings that provide critical infrastructure or services to individuals at increased risk of severe illness
  • Minimizing disruptions to daily life to the extent possible
    *CDC cannot address the policies of any business or organization. CDC shares recommendations based on the best available science to help people make decisions that improve their health and safety. In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department. Local decisions depend on local circumstances.

    For more information, see Community Mitigation Framework.