COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Updated June 8, 2020. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) frequently asked questions and general information.

  • Latest information from CDPHE

  • Latest public health information from CDC

  • Latest research information from NIH

  • Latest information from WHO

Question Answer Source/Last Updated
How long does the coronavirus last on surfaces? The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine. The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

March 17, 2020

How can you reduce your risk of getting COVID-19? According to the CDC, washing your hands as frequently as possible with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help reduce risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and stay home from work if you feel sick. Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and immediately throwing away that tissue will help reduce spread of the virus.

March 16, 2020

What are some of the tips for protecting yourself and your loved ones?

According to the NIH:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • To prevent the spread of the illness, frequently wash hands thoroughly and avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

To protect yourself the CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw it away.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Voluntary home isolation: If you are ill with symptoms of respiratory disease, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue, stay home. The CDC recommends that you remain at home until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (100 degrees F) or signs of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Veterinary practices should designate their clinic as a temporary NO HANDSHAKE ZONE.
  • Ask colleagues and clients to refrain from shaking hands.

March 16, 2020

March 23, 2020

Is the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 considered low for most people? Older adults and all demographics with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems are at a greater risk of developing a severe illness from COVID-19. However, the risk of this occurring within the general population is low. It is still important to take precautionary methods to protect against the virus, regardless of age or health condition.

March 16, 2020

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating COVID-19? Antibiotics are not effective in preventing and treating COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacterial infections. Since COVID-19 is a virus, antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat the illness.

March 16, 2020

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Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill the new coronavirus? UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

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How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus? Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

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Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus? No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

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Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?            There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

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Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible? People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

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What animal did COVID-19 originate from? Current research suggests that horseshoe bats are the reservoir species and the virus originated from that species as well. Previous human coronavirus outbreaks, SARS and MERS, originated in bats but passed through other species, such as the palm civet and camels.

March 23, 2020

Can dogs get COVID-19? At this time, experts believe it is very unlikely. The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The OIE states there is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The CDC also seconds that opinion, stating that, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

March 23, 2020

Although pets cannot become sick from COVID-19, could they serve as a conduit of infection between people? Yes. It is possible that a person with COVID-19 could sneeze or otherwise contaminate their pet, and then another individual could touch that animal and contract the disease. Veterinary experts believe the risk for transmission would be low. COVID-19 survives longer on hard, inanimate surfaces (e.g., glass, metal) than on soft surfaces (e.g., fur, cardboard). Nevertheless, animals living with sick individuals should be kept away from other people and animals (quarantined at home), just as people who live with sick individuals must avoid contact with others.

March 23, 2020

Do You Get Immunity After Recovering From A Case Of Coronavirus? It's unclear whether people who recover from COVID-19 will be immune to reinfection from the coronavirus and, if so, how long that immunity will last. For example, researchers do know that reinfection is an issue with the four seasonal coronaviruses that cause about 10 to 30% of common colds. These coronaviruses seem to be able to sicken people again and again, even though people have been exposed to them since childhood.

Can You Get Coronavirus Twice?

How Long Are You Immune After COVID-19?

According to the CDC, the immune response to COVID-19 is yet to be understood. According to Li QinGyuan, director of pneumonia prevention and treatment at China Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, those who have been infected with Covid-19 develop a protective antibody - but it isn’t clear how long the protection lasts. "However, in certain individuals, the antibody cannot last that long," Li told USAToday. "For many patients who have been cured, there is a likelihood of relapse." In children, it is currently believed that the virus causes the development of “at least short-term immunity”.

March 20, 2020

Am I immune to the virus after I get it once? “The body builds a memory immune response—how long that lasts, we do not know yet. Some immune memories can be lifelong like after a polio vaccine or short-lasting like a flu vaccine," says Dr. Petre. "Some people in China tested positive after they recovered from a first episode, but that was thought to be due to virus antigen still being detected in the cells and not related to viable viral particles."

March 26, 2020

Is blood type linked to COVID-19 risk?

A new, preliminary study has found correlations between blood type and the likelihood of being hospitalized with COVID-19. According to the authors, people with type A blood might be more at risk than those with other blood types.

Researchers from the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, China — in collaboration with colleagues from other Chinese institutions — have recently conducted a study assessing the potential relationship between blood type and hospitalization due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Their study is preliminary and has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, which means that other experts have not yet had a chance to assess the researchers’ methodology and findings.

According to Sakthi Vaiyapuri, Ph.D., “Without establishing causal links between [the coronavirus] and ABO blood group antigens, it’s difficult to understand this conclusion, which might be purely coincidental. Importantly, people should not panic about these results, as, clearly, further scientific research is required to substantiate these claims.”

The paper is available online in preprint form:

March 16, 2020

Is the virus spread through droplets or is it airborne?


Can coronavirus spread through the air?

The virus's main route of transmission from one person to another is through droplets which are sneezed or coughed out by infected people. A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplets, while a sneeze can produce as many as 10,000. These droplets then land in or are breathed into another person's airways, or fall on a surface that is touched by an uninfected person, who then touches their face - specifically their mouth, nose, ears or eyes.

This method of transmission is known as "droplet spread". While it is in these droplets, the coronavirus is only in the air for a short time and travels only a short distance before it is pulled down by gravity after being coughed or sneezed out.            

The exact length of time the virus can "live" in the air outside of a host body is currently being researched. According to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine, some studies have put it at just a few seconds, while one suggests it may be two to three hours.

March 24, 2020

How long can it survive in the air? For hours, potentially. However, experts aren’t sure about the chances that virus-infected mist could infect other people, and more research would be needed to determine that answer, said Jamie Lloyd-Smith, an ecology and evolutionary biology professor at UCLA. An aerosolized particle is much smaller than a droplet. It can float and fly in a room for hours, much like an aerosolized air freshener. A droplet, meanwhile, is large enough that it drops to the ground by gravity within seconds.

March 22, 2020

Is coronavirus airborne?

Please Note: Aerosols are infectious viral particles that can float or drift around in the air.

Experts can’t agree on this. The World Health Organization says the evidence is not compelling regarding this scientific query. Researchers have been trying to pin down whether it can travel through the air. Health officials say the virus is transported only through droplets that are coughed or sneezed out — either directly, or on objects.

But some scientists say there is preliminary evidence that airborne transmission — in which the disease spreads in the much smaller particles from exhaled air, known as aerosols — is occurring, and that precautions, such as increasing ventilation indoors, should be recommended to reduce the risk of infection.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may spread through the air in tiny particles that infected people exhale during normal breathing and speech.

April 2, 2020

April 2, 2020

How does COVID-19 compare to measles?

Measles ranks among the most infectious diseases. One infected person can pass it on to between 12 and 40 others if they haven’t been vaccinated, according to the CDC. For the new coronavirus, by contrast, the World Health Organization estimates that every infected person spreads it to 2 to 2.5 others, on average, at least according to data collected early in the outbreak.

According to Dr. Lloyd-Smith, an ecology and evolutionary biology professor at UCLA, “That’s still worse than the seasonal flu. Depending on the influenza strain, every infected person passes the virus to 1.2 to 2 others”.

March 22, 2020

Can the coronavirus be found in fecal matter? Yes. It can be found in the feces of infected people. But there’s currently no evidence that it’s an efficient way to infect others.

March 22, 2020

Is the loss of taste and smell an indicator of having COVID-19?

Please Note:

  • Anosmia: Loss of smell
  • Hyposmia, or microsmia: Reduced ability to smell and to detect odors
  • Dysgeusia: Distortion of sense of taste
Anosmia and hyposmia are historically linked to early symptoms of upper-respiratory infections — including previous strains of coronavirus — because the virus damages olfactory bulbs that are involved in the sense of smell. Experts at the World Health Organization say they have not yet confirmed the loss of smell or taste as a symptom of the coronavirus but haven’t ruled it out.


In Germany it is reported that more than 2 in 3 confirmed cases have anosmia. In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery said symptoms of anosmia, or lack of sense of smell, and dysgeusia, or lack of taste, should be used to identify possible Covid-19 infections. Doctors in the United States suggested to add the loss of sense of smell and taste to be added to the "list of screening tools" for Covid-19.

March 23, 2020

March 23, 2020

Can 3D printing be used to make gowns, masks, respirators, and other types of personal protective equipment (PPE)?

PPE includes protective clothing, gowns, gloves, face shields, goggles, face masks, and respirators or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness. While it is possible to use 3D printing to make certain PPE, there are technical challenges that have to be overcome to be effective enough.

For example, 3D-printed PPE may provide a physical barrier, but 3D-printed PPE are unlikely to provide the same fluid barrier and air filtration protection as FDA-cleared surgical masks and N95 respirators. The CDC recommendations for how to optimize the supply of face masks and they can be found here:

March 26, 2020

Can I use PPE made by 3D printing? 3D-printed PPE can be used to provide a physical barrier to the environment. However, 3D-printed PPE are unlikely to provide the same fluid barrier and air filtration protection as FDA-cleared surgical masks and N95 respirators. The CDC has recommendations for how to optimize the supply of face masks.

March 26, 2020

Will 3D-printed masks provide the same fluid barrier protection and air filtration as FDA-cleared surgical masks and N95 respirators? 3D-printed masks may look like conventional PPE. However, they may not provide the same level of barrier protection, fluid resistance, filtration, and infection control. The CDC recommendations for how to optimize the supply of face masks and they can be found here:

March 26, 2020

Is there any evidence to support that storing an N-95 respirator for 72 hours (i.e., 3 days) in a paper bag is effective to kill virus and reuse? It has been reported that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) can survive up to 72 hours on surfaces. According to Dr. Kimberly Vogelsang, Emergency Medicine, Tuscon Medical Center, “The best proposition I came up with is saving N95 masks and placing them in paper bags. Then rotating through the masks giving each one 72 hours in between each use. COVID reportedly survives on plastic and metal surfaces for up to 72 hours. So if you can cycle several masks through a rest period, potentially the risk of contamination can be minimized.”

March 21, 2020

Can the alcohol and chlorine (bleach)-based disinfection methods used for N-95 facial masks? Alcohol and chlorine [bleach]-based disinfection methods would remove the static charge in the microfibers in N95 facial masks, reducing filtration efficiency. In addition, chlorine also retains gas after de-contamination, and these fumes may be harmful."

March 24, 2020

Do Anti-Inflammatories like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) aggravate Coronavirus? Is it safe to use this common anti-inflammatory if you have COVID-19?

Ibuprofen may increase a certain type of receptor on human cells that could theoretically strengthen the ability of coronavirus to cause infection, or worsening symptoms, the World Health Organization initially recommended against its use.

However, because there is no evidence that ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory painkillers and fever reducers, like aspirin, make coronavirus worse, WHO changed their recommendation. They no longer recommend against ibuprofen’s use for coronavirus. Ask your doctor if ibuprofen or acetaminophen is a better choice for you.

March 23, 2020

Does ibuprofen make COVID-19 symptoms worse? FDA released a statement on March 19, 2020 that says it is "not aware of scientific evidence” that suggests ibuprofen worsens COVID-19 symptoms. "At this time, FDA is not aware of scientific evidence connecting the use of NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, with worsening COVID-19 symptoms. The agency is investigating this issue further and will communicate publicly when more information is available,” the statement read.

March 23, 2020

Could an old malaria drug help fight the new coronavirus? According to Science magazine, at least 12 potential treatments for COVID-19 are being tested around the world, including existing HIV and malaria drugs; experimental compounds found to be effective against viruses in animal experiments; and anti-body plasma from recovered patients.

March 27, 2020

Can a person who has recovered from Covid-19 donate plasma to help others develop immunity?

Please Note: Vaccines basically teach your immune system to fight a virus, while antibody treatments help your immune system fight a virus.

Please Note: Trials of plasma from recovered patients have begun. Antibodies in blood can provide passive immunity to other patients. Since March 28, at least 11 patients critically ill with COVID-19 at hospitals in New York City and Houston became the first in the United States to receive a promising experimental treatment (this therapy was newly authorized for emergency use by FDA). The treatment is convalescent plasma, where the liquid component of blood taken from someone who has survived COVID-19 would be administered on COVID-19 patients.

Additional Information: Convalescent plasma, also called passive antibody therapy, is a type of passive immunity. It can provide antibodies immediately, but the proteins will last only for a short amount of time, weeks to possibly a few months. Convalescent plasma was used to help stop outbreaks of measles and mumps before vaccines were available, and there’s some evidence that those who got the plasma during the 1918 influenza pandemic were less likely to die. Convalescent plasma has also been put to use against SARS and MERS, the two other coronavirus epidemics. But studies that showed some benefit didn’t compare how the treatment worked against a placebo.

April 3, 2020

Is it true that nations with mandatory TB Vaccines show fewer coronavirus deaths? Countries with mandatory policies to vaccinate against tuberculosis register fewer coronavirus deaths than countries that don’t have those policies, a new study has found. The preliminary study posted on medRxiv, a site for unpublished medical research, finds a correlation between countries that require citizens to get the bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine and those showing fewer numbers of confirmed cases and deaths from Covid-19. Though only a correlation, clinicians in at least six countries are running trials that involve giving frontline health workers and elderly people the BCG vaccine to see whether it can indeed provide some level of protection against the new coronavirus.

April, 1, 2020

If I’m sick, will my pet also get infected? According to the CDC – “CDC is aware of a very small number of pets, including dogs and cats, outside the United States reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people with COVID-19. CDC has not received any reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people. We are still learning about this virus, but we know that it is zoonotic and it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations”.

March 27, 2020

Am I cured after 14 days of quarantine? NOT NECESSARILY. "Incubation and illness may exceed 14 days, so it may be better at 24-30 days to protect oneself in self-quarantine," says Dr. Bill Code, a specialist on virology and immune function.

March 26, 2020

Is the “holding-your-breath test” a good indicator of the coronavirus? "No, there is a wide spectrum of severity in symptoms that people with coronavirus may experience," says Dr. Nate Favini, "Some people with coronavirus are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and would easily be able to hold their breath for 10 seconds."

March 26, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and chloroquine are two medications that have recently been making headlines as possible treatments for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Can they be used to Treat Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are two medications that have been used for many decades to treat malaria and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Small studies suggest that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine may be helpful in treating hospitalized patients with COVID-19, though more data is needed to confirm if they actually work. There have been no studies showing that these medications work for prevention.

Additional Information: Hydroxychloroquine is a medication first approved to treat malaria, an infection caused by a parasite. It is similar in structure to chloroquine, which was first approved by the FDA in 1949. Hydroxychloroquine, approved in 1955, is typically preferred over chloroquine because it has fewer side effects. Side effects for both medications, which are more common at higher doses and with long-term use, include: Irreversible visual changes Long QT or QT prolongation (abnormal heart rhythm) Muscle weakness or nerve pain Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) Worsening of psoriasis

April 2, 2020

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Some people infected with the virus have no symptoms. When the virus does cause symptoms, common ones include fever, body ache, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite, and loss of smell. In some people, COVID-19 causes more severe symptoms like high fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, which often indicates pneumonia. People with COVID-19 are also experiencing neurological symptoms, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, or both. These may occur with or without respiratory symptoms.

For example, COVID-19 affects brain function in some people. Specific neurological symptoms seen in people with COVID-19 include loss of smell, inability to taste, muscle weakness, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, and stroke.
In addition, some people have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain or discomfort associated with COVID-19. These symptoms might start before other symptoms such as fever, body ache, and cough. The virus that causes COVID-19 has also been detected in stool, which reinforces the importance of hand washing after every visit to the bathroom and regularly disinfecting bathroom fixtures.


What should I do if I think I or my child may have a COVID-19 infection?

First call your doctor or pediatrician for advice.
If you do not have a doctor and you are concerned that you or your child may have COVID-19, contact your local board of health. They can direct you to the best place for evaluation and treatment in your area.

It's best to not seek medical care in an emergency department unless you have symptoms of severe illness. Severe symptoms include high or very low body temperature, shortness of breath, confusion, or feeling you might pass out. Call the emergency department ahead of time to let the staff know that you are coming, so they can be prepared for your arrival.


How do I know if I have COVID-19 or the regular flu?

COVID-19 often causes symptoms similar to those a person with a bad cold or the flu would experience. And like the flu, the symptoms can progress and become life-threatening. Your doctor is more likely to suspect coronavirus if:

(a) you have respiratory symptoms
(b) you have been exposed to someone suspected of having COVID-19, or
(c) there has been community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in your area.


How is someone tested for COVID-19?

A specialized test must be done to confirm that a person has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Most often a clinician takes a swab of your nose (or both your nose and throat). New methods of testing that can be done on site will become more available over the next few weeks. These new tests can provide results in as little as 15–45 minutes. Meanwhile, most tests will still be delivered to labs that have been approved to perform the test.

Some people are starting to have a blood test to look for antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. Because the blood test for antibodies doesn't become positive until after an infected person improves, it is not useful as a diagnostic test at this time. Scientists are using this blood antibody test to identify potential plasma donors. The antibodies can be purified from the plasma and may help some very sick people get better.


How soon after I'm infected with the new coronavirus will I start to be contagious?

The time from exposure to symptom onset (known as the incubation period) is thought to be three to 14 days, though symptoms typically appear within four or five days after exposure.

A person with COVID-19 may be contagious 48 to 72 hours before starting to experience symptoms. Emerging research suggests that people may actually be most likely to spread the virus to others during the 48 hours before they start to experience symptoms.

If true, this strengthens the case for face masks, physical distancing, and contact tracing, all of which can help reduce the risk that someone who is infected but not yet contagious may unknowingly infect others.


If I get sick with COVID-19, how long until I will feel better? It depends on how sick you get. Those with mild cases appear to recover within one to two weeks. With severe cases, recovery can take six weeks or more. According to the most recent estimates, about 1% of infected persons will succumb to the disease.


What types of medications and health supplies should I have on hand for an extended stay at home?

Try to stock at least a 30-day supply of any needed prescriptions. If your insurance permits 90-day refills, that's even better. Make sure you also have over-the-counter medications and other health supplies on hand.

Medical and health supplies:
(a) prescription medications, (b) prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment, (c) fever and pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, (d) cough and cold medicines, (e) antidiarrheal medication, (f) thermometer, (g) fluids with electrolytes, (h) soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer, (i) tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins, (h) garbage bags.


How long after I start to feel better will be it be safe for me to go back out in public again? We don't know for certain. Based on the most recent research, people may continue to be infected with the virus and be potentially contagious for many days after they are feeling better. But these results need to be verified. Until then, even after 10 days of complete resolution of your symptoms, you should still take all precautions if you do need to go out in public, including wearing a mask, minimizing touching surfaces, and keeping at least six feet of distance away from other people.


When can you return to work after having COVID-19? [When do healthcare professionals and the CDC say it's safe for you to return to your job?]

According to healthcare professionals and the CDC, there are multiple things to look for before you can head back to work.

  • Asymptomatic patients that have a positive test can go back seven days after the positive test assuming they've had no symptoms, so they're safe and wearing the masks and protecting other people that way.
  • "What the CDC is recommending right now is if you’ve had a confirmed or suspected COVID, then you need to wait a minimum of seven days from the time of any symptom onset or three days without a fever. [Please Note: “Fever-free" means you cannot have any fever reducers in your system]
  • Depending on testing availability, if you had symptoms, you should get two negative tests, 24 hours apart before you can go back to work. If you don't have any symptoms, you don't have to get a follow-up test.
  • Those asymptomatic healthcare workers who are allowed to go back to work, should still report their temperature every day before going in.

For more information on when the CDC says you can go back to work, click on this link:


What are the differences between the nasal swab and saliva tests for COVID-19?

Until recently, most tests for COVID-19 required a clinician to insert a long swab into the nose and sometimes down to the throat. In mid-April, the FDA granted emergency approval for a saliva-based test. The saliva test is easier to perform — spitting into a cup versus submitting to a swab — and more comfortable. Because a person can independently spit into a cup, the saliva test does not require interaction with a healthcare worker. This cuts down on the need for masks, gowns, gloves, and other protective equipment, which has been in short supply.

Both the saliva and swab tests work by detecting genetic material from the coronavirus. Both tests are very specific, meaning that a positive test almost always means that the person is infected with the virus. However, both tests can be negative, even if a person is proven later to be infected (known as a false negative). This is especially true for people who carry the virus but have no symptoms.

Some early reports suggest that the saliva test may have fewer false negatives than the swab test. If verified, home testing could potentially quickly ramp up the widespread testing we desperately need.


Is a person with COVID-19 contagious before symptoms appear?

Yes, evidence indicates that people who are infected with 2019-nCoV may become contagious before symptoms are noticeable.

In addition, it is now estimated that up to 25 percent of infected individuals remain asymptomatic and may unwittingly infect others. For that reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that individuals wear non-medical-grade, cloth face coverings in public settings where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing, such as grocery stores. If everyone wears masks, this might help prevent those who are unknowingly infected from spreading the illness.


Is it safe to swim during the COVID-19 pandemic? Are pools, lakes and beaches safe this summer? According to the CDC, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water. The virus can spread from person to person on the deck of the pool. So, prepare to put a face mask, although you won’t need to wear it in the water.


Is drinking water safe? Yes. The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, has not been detected in drinking water, according to the CDC. “Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19,” CDC experts say.


Does the virus that causes COVID-19 spread through human waste? Researchers have found evidence of the virus in untreated sewage. In fact, scientists who are testing sewage are finding that the virus shows up in sewage before increased rates of infection emerge from testing or hospital admissions. Researchers believe that’s because the virus shows up in fecal matter before people seek medical treatment for COVID-19. Still, there is no evidence that people are becoming infected in the U.S. through raw sewage.


Is it safe to use steroids to control allergy and asthma symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic? Yes, it is safe to use corticosteroid nasal sprays to control nasal allergies or inhaled corticosteroids to control asthma symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) recently issued a statement emphasizing the importance of controlling allergy and asthma symptoms during the pandemic. They said there is no evidence that intranasal or inhaled corticosteroids increase the risk of getting the COVID-19 infection or lead to a worse outcome if you do get infected. The ACAAI statement was a response to concerns over reports warning against the use of systemic steroids to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients with specific respiratory complications. However, those reports did not refer to healthy individuals using corticosteroid nasal sprays or inhalers to manage allergies or asthma.


How much difference will masks and physical distancing make as states begin to reopen? Although we don't know exactly how much masks and physical distancing help, we do know that these measures are needed to open the economy in the safest way possible and are our best chance of keeping it open. But in order to work, everyone must comply. Coronavirus spreads when someone breathes in virus that an infected person emits through coughs or sneezes, or when they talk or breathe, or when a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Physical distancing of at least six feet and wearing a tight-fitting cloth mask that covers your nose and mouth can help prevent spread. (Medical-grade N95 masks are more effective than cloth masks, but are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers.) Continue to wash your hands frequently as well. Researchers at Columbia University recently affirmed the importance of these health-promoting behaviors. They reported that 36,000 fewer people would have died in the coronavirus outbreak if physical distancing measures have started one week earlier; if physical distancing had begun two weeks earlier, 54,000 fewer people may have died.


What are cytokine storms and what do they have to do with COVID-19? A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the body's immune system. In some people with COVID-19, the immune system releases immune messengers, called cytokines, into the bloodstream out of proportion to the threat or long after the virus is no longer a threat. When this happens, the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, potentially causing significant harm. A cytokine storm triggers an exaggerated inflammatory response that may damage the liver, blood vessels, kidneys, and lungs, and increase formation of blood clots throughout the body. Ultimately, the cytokine storm may cause more harm than the coronavirus itself. A simple blood test can help determine whether someone with COVID-19 may be experiencing a cytokine storm. Trials in countries around the world are investigating whether drugs that have been used to treat cytokine storms in people with other, non-COVID conditions could be effective in people with COVID-19.