What is COVID-19?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Because it is a new virus, scientists are learning more each day. Although most people who have COVID-19 have mild symptoms, COVID-19 can also cause severe illness and even death. Some groups, including older adults and people who have certain underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk of severe illness.
You can find more information on the CDC’s website.
How does the virus spread?
The CDC reports that COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person to person, including between people who are physically near each other (within about 6 feet). People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. For more information about how COVID-19 spreads, visit the CDC’s How COVID-19 Spreads page to learn how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself.
Are masks recommended to help mitigate the spread of the virus?
Yes. The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people. When you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself. Masks work best when everyone wears one. A mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially when indoors around people who don’t live in your household. For further details, please see the CDC’s mask page.
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
According to the CDC, quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others. Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. For more information, please proceed to the CDC’s website.
Who needs to quarantine?
According to the CDC, people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months or who are fully vaccinated.
What counts as close contact?
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
- You shared eating or drinking utensils
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
For further details on the CDC’s recommendations for quarantining, please see their website.
What are the symptoms and/or complications COVID-19 can cause?
According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms – from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19.
For further details, please see the CDC’s list of symptoms of COVID-19.
How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?
The CDC recommends these guidelines to slow the spread:
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
For further details on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, please see the CDC’s website.
What is social distancing?
According to the CDC, social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household. To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces. For further information please see the CDC’s website.
Why practice social distancing?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs.
Recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay at least 6 feet away from others when possible, even if you—or they—do not have any symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
For more information please see the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing.
Once I am fully vaccinated, what can I do?
According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic
- Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
- Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
According to the CDC, for now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
- Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
- Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
- Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow guidance issued by individual employers
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
For more information, please see the CDC’s website.
What do I do if I am sick?
The CDC recommends you stay home expect to seek medical care, stay separate from other people and pets in your home, do not share personal household items, monitor your symptoms, and immediately seek medical attention if you are having trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, inability to wake or stay awake, or if you are experiencing pale, grey, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds. For more information, please see the CDC’s website.