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COVID-19 FAQ

Frequently asked questions about coronavirus, specifically COVID-19, how to protect yourself, what to do if you have symptoms, per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. 


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 more commonly circulate among humans  and cause mild illness, like the common cold. 

 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

Fever, cough and shortness of breath. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. These symptoms may appear  2 to 14 days after exposure. If you develop  emergency warning signs  for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion or inability to arouse; bluish lips or face. 

 

How does it spread? 

The virus that causes COVID-19 is  spreading from person-to-person through close contact (within 6 feet) of someone with the virus. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others 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. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. 

 

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. 

 

How do I avoid getting the virus? 

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) and 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. 

 

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19 like there is for the flu? 

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) 

 

How can I protect myself from the virus? 

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. 

Practice social distancing and avoid close contact  with people, especially those 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, such as older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions. 

 

Should I wear a facemask? 

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of signficiant community-based transmission. It is critical to maintain 6-feet social distancing, even while wearing face coverings. The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders. 

 

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

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions  may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19, including heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. 

 

I’m in the higher risk group, what should I do? 

If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should: stock up on supplies; take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others; when you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick; limit close contact and wash your hands often; and avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential travel.  If there is an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible. Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor. 

 

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. 

 

For more information and more answered questions, go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov. 

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