Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
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Basics

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.

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 by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.

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.

It is not yet known whether weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like those that cause 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.  There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

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. For information on community spread in your area, please visit your health department’s website.​

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.

Prevention

Visit the How to Protect Yourself & Others page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.

Wear masks in public settings when around people not living in your household and particularly where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Masks 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.

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 masks in public settings. Masks provide an extra layer to help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people.

The masks 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 masks can be found on our masks site.

  • 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 mask, cover coughs and sneezes, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.

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

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.

In healthcare settings 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

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.

If You or Someone You Know is Sick or Had Contact with Someone who Has 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.
  • Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).
  • 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. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • 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.

However, some people may need emergency medical attention. Watch for symptoms and learn when to seek emergency medical attention.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

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.

  • 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.

Children

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).

For more information for parents or caregivers of children, see Children and Teens  and the COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit.

For more information about how people get sick with the virus that causes COVID-19, see How COVID-19 Spreads.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Preparing for an Outbreak

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.
    • Make sure they have access to 2 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.

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.

CDC does not encourage the production and use of homemade hand sanitizer products because of concerns over the correct use of the ingredientsexternal icon 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.pdf iconexternal icon 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.

Symptoms & Emergency Warning Signs

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.

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.

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

Testing

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.

Decisions about testing are made by state and localexternal icon 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 localexternal icon 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 swabexternal icon or a saliva sampleexternal icon 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.

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.

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.

People at Higher Risk for Severe Illness

People at increased risk include:

Pregnant people might also be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.

In addition to those at increased risk, there are certain groups of people who require extra precautions during the pandemic.

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that taking any specific medications, like blood pressure medication or ibuprofen, leads to more severe illness from COVID-19.

  • Continue to take your medications and to follow your treatment plan as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Any changes to your medications should only be made after talking with your healthcare provider.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns.

For more information, see People with Underlying Medical Conditions.

Adults with disabilities are more likely to have an underlying medical condition that may put them at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 including, but not limited to, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity. In addition, having a disability may make it harder to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and practice hand hygiene.

For more information, see People with Disabilities and People who May Need Extra Precautions.

 

People with Seasonal Allergies

COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19). Seasonal allergies triggered by airborne pollen can lead to seasonal allergic rhinitis, which affects the nose and sinuses, and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, which affects the eyes.

COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share many symptoms, but there are some key differences between the two. For example, COVID-19 can cause fever, which is not a common symptom of seasonal allergies. The image below compares symptoms caused by allergies and COVID-19.

Because some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies are similar, it may be difficult to tell the difference between them, and you may need to get a test to confirm your diagnosis

seasonal allergy symptoms vs COVID-19 symptoms

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*Seasonal allergies do not usually cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, unless a person has a respiratory condition such as asthma that can be triggered by exposure to pollen.

This is not a complete list of all possible symptoms of COVID-19 or seasonal allergies. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. You can have symptoms of both COVID-19 and seasonal allergies at the same time.

If you think you have COVID-19, follow CDC’s guidance on ”What to do if you are sick.” If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.

Get more information on COVID-19 symptoms, or more information on seasonal allergy symptomsexternal icon.

There is not enough scientific information at this time to know whether having seasonal allergies puts you at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or having more severe symptoms if you do contract COVID-19. We do know that older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, or heart or lung disease are at higher risk for developing more serious complications when they have COVID-19. Get more information on people at high risk for severe COVID-19.

CDC recommends wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should wear a mask covering unless they are under 2 years of age, have breathing problems, or are unconscious or incapacitated and would need assistance removing a mask.  Masks also offer some protection against seasonal allergies because they can prevent some larger particles from being inhaled. However, if you have seasonal allergies, masks should not be your only protection against pollen exposure because smaller particles can still get through the covering and be inhaled.

Wash your masks after each use, particularly if you suffer from seasonal allergies, because the covering may carry particles such as pollen. See information on how to wash masks.

The best way to protect yourself against seasonal allergies is to reduce your exposure to pollen. During high pollen days:

  • Limit your time outdoors and seek indoor spaces with clean air.
  • Create a cleaner air space at home to protect yourself from outdoor air irritants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Use a portable air cleaner in one or more rooms. Portable air cleaners work best when run continuously with doors and windows closed. Do-it-yourself box fan filtration units are a low-cost filtration alternative, but they should never be left unattended.
  • Keep your cleaner air space a comfortable temperature by using air conditioners, heat pumps, fans, and window shades.
  • If you have a forced air system in your home, consult a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional about different filters (HEPA or MERV-13 or higher) and settings (“Recirculate” and “On” rather than “Auto”) that can be used to reduce indoor air irritants.
  • If outdoors, avoid activities that stir up pollen, such as mowing lawns or raking leaves. When you return indoors, take a shower and change your clothes.

The EPA website on indoor air and COVID-19external icon and the EPA Guide to Air Cleaners in the Homepdf iconexternal icon provide additional information on improving indoor air quality. You can also find out the daily pollen levels in your area by checking local weather forecasts and pollen counting stationsexternal icon. Learn more about reducing your exposure to respiratory triggers.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing has been used for decades by state and local health departments to slow or stop the spread of infectious diseases.

Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by

  • Letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested
  • Asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19

During contact tracing, the health department staff will not ask you for

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

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.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, your name will not be shared with those you came in contact with. The health department will only notify people you were in close contact with that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. Each state and jurisdiction use their own method for collecting and protecting health information. To learn more, contact your state or local health department.

You may also be interested in: If I participate contact tracing for COVID-19 using a digital tool, is my personal health information secure?

For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Funerals

There is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-19. However, you may be at risk of getting COVID-19 if you attend a funeral where there are multiple people congregating. For more information about what you can do to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19 during these services, and to help cope with the loss of a loved one, see Funeral Guidance.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread from close contact (i.e., within about 6 feet) with a person who is infected with the virus. The virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

This type of spread is not a concern after death. It may be possible that a person 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. If the deceased person had confirmed or suspected COVID-19, avoid kissing, washing, or shrouding the body before, during, and after the body has been prepared, if possible. For more information on recommended precautions while handling the belongings and the body of someone who died from COVID-19, see Funeral Guidance.

Cleaning and Disinfection

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 disinfectionexternal icon 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.

Cleaning with soap and water or a detergent removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting with a household disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARs-CoV-2external icon kills germs on the surface. By disinfecting or killing germs on a surface after cleaning the surface, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. For more information review cleaning and disinfection recommendations for facilities and homes.

The risk of 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.

Consider removing area rugs completely, if possible, to reduce the need for cleaning, disinfection, and vacuuming.

If vacuuming is necessary or required,

  • First, follow the CDC recommendations for Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.
  • Close off areas visited by the ill persons. Open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area. Wait 24 hours or as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  • After cleaning and disinfection, the following recommendations may help reduce the risk to workers and other individuals when vacuuming:
    • 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.
    • Temporarily turn off in-room, window-mounted, or on-wall recirculation HVAC to avoid contamination of the HVAC units.
    • Do NOT deactivate central HVAC systems. These systems tend to provide better filtration capabilities and introduce outdoor air into the areas that they serve.

Routine cleaning is everyday cleaning practices that businesses and communities normally do to maintain a healthy environment.

Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, bathroom surfaces, and handrails, should be cleaned and disinfected with soap and water or detergent. These surfaces should be cleaned 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.

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

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 Nexternal icon 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. However, CDC is producing guidance on use of Germicidal ultraviolet as an alternative disinfection method. Therefore, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19. For more information on CDC’s recommendations for primary surface disinfection in occupied environments please visit the CDC/EPA guidance for surface disinfection.

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

 

CDC does not recommend disinfection of sidewalks, roads, or most other outdoor spaces. Spraying disinfectant on sidewalks, roads, and other outdoor spaces 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.

Pets and Animals

Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. See If You Have Pets for more information about pets and COVID-19.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets.

However, because animals can sometimes carry other germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, including washing hands before and after interacting with them.

Dog parks provide socialization and exercise for dogs, which is an important part of their wellbeing. Because there is a risk that people with COVID-19 could spread it to animals, CDC recommends that you do not let pets interact with people outside of your household, especially in places with community spread of COVID-19. Therefore, you should consider avoiding dog parks or other places where large numbers of people and dogs gather.

Some areas are allowing dog parks to open. If you choose to go to a dog park, follow local guidelines. There are ways to reduce the risk of you or your dog getting infected with COVID-19 if you go to a dog park.

  • Do not take your dog to a dog park if you are sick or if you have recently been in close contact with a person with COVID-19.
  • Do not take your dog to a dog park if your dog is sick. Signs of sickness in dogs may include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • If your dog has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, talk to your veterinarian about when it is appropriate for your pet to go back to normal activities.
  • Try to limit your dog’s interaction with other people outside of your household while at the dog park.
  • As much as possible, avoid touching common items in the dog park like water bowls. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching items from the park. To make sure your dog has fresh water, consider bringing your own portable water bowl.
  • Limit other pet items brought to the dog park, such as toys. Clean and disinfect anything taken to the park and returned home (leashes, toys, water bowls).
  • Do not wipe or bathe your dog with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. If you have questions about appropriate products for bathing or cleaning your pet, talk to your veterinarian.

See more information on pets and COVID-19 and recommendations for how to help keep your pet safe.

Until we know more about how this virus affects animals, CDC encourages pet owners to treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from possible infection. This means limiting contact between your pets and people outside your household as much as possible and avoiding places where large numbers of people gather.

Some areas are allowing groomers and boarding facilities such as dog daycares to open. If you must take your pet to a groomer or boarding facility, follow any protocols put into place at the facility, such as wearing a mask and maintaining at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others if possible.

Limit pet items brought from home to the groomer or boarding facility, and disinfect any objects that are taken into a facility and returned home (such as leashes, bowls, and toys). Use an EPA-registered disinfectantexternal icon to clean items and rinse thoroughly with clean water afterwards. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. If you have questions about appropriate products for bathing or cleaning your pet, talk to your veterinarian.

Do not put masks on pets, and do not take a sick pet to a groomer or boarding facility. Signs of sickness in dogs may include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you think your pet is sick, call your veterinarian. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.

See more information on pets and COVID-19 and recommendations for how to help keep your pet safe.

Most pets that have gotten sick from the virus that causes COVID-19 were infected after close contact with a person with COVID-19. Talk to your veterinarian about any health concerns you have about your pets.

If your pet gets sick after contact with a person with COVID-19, call your veterinarian and let them know the pet was around a person with COVID-19. If you are sick with COVID-19, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care. Routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not recommended at this time.

Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. However, it appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals after close contact with people with COVID-19.

Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, use similar precautions for pets and other animals in your facility as you would for other people in your facility. This will help protect both people and pets in your facility from COVID-19.

  • Do not let pets in the facility interact with sick people.
  • Pets or other animals should not be allowed to roam freely around the facility.
  • Residents should avoid letting their pets interact with people as much as possible.
  • Dogs should be walked on a leash at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others.
  • People sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals.
  • Do not allow pets into common areas of the facility such as cafeterias and social areas.
  • Cats should be kept indoors to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people outside of the facility.

Talk to a veterinarian if a pet in your facility gets sick or if you have any concerns about the health of any pets in the facility. If you think a pet in the facility was exposed to or is showing signs consistent with COVID-19, contact your state health official to discuss guidance on testing pets or other animals for the virus that causes COVID-19.

People who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid providing care for sick pets, if possible.

For more information, visit CDC’s If You Have Pets webpage.

CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. CDC, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) play distinct but complementary roles in regulating the importation of live animals and animal products into the United States.

  • CDC regulates animals and animal products that pose a threat to human health,
  • USDA regulatesexternal icon animals and animal products that pose a threat to agriculture; and
  • FWS regulatesexternal icon importation of endangered species and wildlife that can harm the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture, or forestry, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources.

Please refer to CDC’s requirements for bringing a dog to the United States. The current requirements for rabies vaccination apply to dogs imported from high-risk countries for rabies.

Imported animals will need to meet CDC and USDA’sexternal iconexternal icon requirements for entering the United States. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets and service animals, can spread the virus that causes COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently imported from another country.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest the virus that causes COVID-19 is circulating in free-living wildlife in the United States, or that wildlife might be a source of infection for people in the United States.

If a wild animal were to become infected with the virus, we don’t know whether the infection could then spread among wildlife or if it could spread to other animals, including pets. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including wildlife, could be affected by COVID-19. Because wildlife can carry other diseases, even without looking sick, it is always important to enjoy wildlife from a distance.

Take steps to prevent getting sick from wildlife in the United States:

  • Keep your family, including pets, a safe distance away from wildlife.
  • Do not feed wildlife or touch wildlife droppings.
  • Always wash your hands and supervise children washing their hands after working or playing outside.
  • Leave orphaned animals alone. Often, the parents are close by and will return for their young.
  • Consult your state wildlife agency’s guidance if you are preparing or consuming legally harvested game meat.
  • Do not approach or touch a sick or dead animal – contact your state wildlife agency instead.

See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.

Other coronaviruses have been found in North American bats in the past, but there is currently no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 is present in any free-living wildlife in the United States, including bats. In general, coronaviruses do not cause illness or death in bats, but we don’t yet know if this new coronavirus would make North American species of bats sick. Bats are an important part of natural ecosystems, and their populations are already declining in the United States. Bat populations could be further threatened by the disease itself or by harm inflicted on bats resulting from a misconception that bats are spreading COVID-19. However, there is no evidence that bats in the United States are a source of the virus that causes COVID-19 for people. Further studies are needed to understand if and how bats could be affected by COVID-19.

Currently, there is no evidence that you can get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 by eating food, including wild hunted game meat. However, hunters can get infected with other diseases when processing or eating game.  Hunters should always practice good hygiene when processing animals by following these food safety recommendations:

  • Do not harvest animals that appear sick or are found dead.
  • Keep game meat clean and cool the meat down as soon as possible after harvesting the animal.
  • Avoid cutting through the backbone and spinal tissues and do not eat the brains of any wild animal.
  • When handling and cleaning game:
    • Wear rubber or disposable gloves.
    • Do not eat, drink, or smoke.
  • When finished handling and cleaning game:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
    • Clean knives, equipment, and surfaces that were in contact with game meat with soap and water and then disinfect them. While these recommendations apply to general food safety practices, if you are concerned about COVID-19, you may use a product on the EPA list of disinfectants for use against the COVID-19 virusexternal icon.
  • Cook all game meat thoroughly (to an internal temperature of 165°F or higher).
  • Check with your state wildlife agency regarding any testing requirements for other diseases and for any specific instructions regarding preparing, transporting, and consuming game meat.

You should follow your state and/or local jurisdictional guidance regarding continuing operations at your facility. There have not been any reports of horses testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person, so steps should be taken to reduce the risks for people visiting your facility.

  • Encourage employees and other visitors, including boarders, owners, farriers, veterinarians, and those taking lessons, not to enter the facility if they are sick. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, after talking with their doctor. Implement sick leave policies that are flexible, nonpunitive, and consistent with public health guidance, allowing employees to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
  • Consider conducting daily health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of employees and others visiting the facility before they enter the premises. People with a fever of 100.40(38.00C) or above or other signs of illness should not be admitted to the premises. If implementing health checks, conduct them safely and respectfully. See General Business FAQs for more information.
    • Employees or visitors who appear to have symptoms upon arrival or who become sick during their visit should immediately be separated from other employees and visitors and sent home.
  • Limit the number of people entering the facility. Consider staggering lesson and visiting times to limit the number of people in the facility and potential for person-to-person contact. If possible, you can also take steps to decrease high-traffic areas by limiting areas open to visitors/owners or staggering use of common areas like grooming or wash stalls and tack rooms.
  • Increase distance and limit duration of contact between employees and visitors in the facility. Whenever possible, people should maintain at least 6 feet of distance between each other at the facility, including instructors teaching lessons. Allow for social distancing and avoid large numbers of people within the facility, including in employee-only areas.
  • Visitors and employees should wear masks to protect others especially where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Wearing a mask does NOT replace the need to practice social distancing.
  • Set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance and within the facility, so that employees and people entering can clean their hands before they enter. Employees should wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can be used, but if hands are visibly dirty, they should be washed with soap and water before using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Examples of hand hygiene stations may be a hose and soap located at entrances to allow for handwashing before entry.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as grooming tools, halters, lead ropes, shared tack and equipment, and door handles/gates (including those to stall doors and pasture/turn out areas) on a routine basis. To disinfect, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against theexternal icon virus that causes COVID-19 and are appropriate for the surface, diluted household bleach solutions prepared according to the manufacturer’s label for disinfection, or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol. Follow manufacturer’s directions for use, especially regarding product contact time and protections from chemical hazards posed by cleaners and disinfectants.
  • Follow local guidance on shelter in place and travel recommendations when traveling for showing, training, or trail riding.
  • If traveling to a new facility, limit contact between people, horses, tack, equipment, and other supplies from different facilities, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between horses and riders.
    • Follow state and local guidance on travel. People who are sick should not travel to other facilities.
    • People visiting other facilities should follow the same precautions as they would normally, including maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between each other, wearing a mask to protect others, and washing hands frequently with soap and water.
  • If other animals, such as barn cats, are present at the facility, be aware that a small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19.

For more information, see Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19pdf iconexternal icon and Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Community Mitigation

Community mitigation is a set of actions that people and communities can take to slow the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. The goal of community mitigation in areas with local COVID-19 transmission is to slow its spread and to protect all individuals, especially those at increased risk for severe illness, while minimizing the negative impacts of these strategies. For more information, see Community Mitigation Framework.

There are several actions that individuals and communities can take to help reduce the chance that they, their families and friends, and their communities get COVID-19. In general, the more cases spreading in your community, the more likely it will spread to you or your family. Also, the more people an individual interacts with, and the longer each interaction lasts, the higher the risk of viral spread. Location can be a factor, too, with outdoor activities generally being less risky than indoor activities.

 Individuals can take the following community mitigation actions:

  • Wear a mask (with some exceptions) when in public settings or around others not living in the same household
  • Follow healthy hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing
  • Practice social distancing
  • Stay home when sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily

Communities can take the following actions:

  • Promote behaviors that prevent spread
  • Maintain healthy environments
  • Ensure institutions in the community are practicing appropriate precautions
  • Prepare for when someone gets sick
  • Close businesses and schools, and limit other services

For more information, see Community Guidance, Community Mitigation, and Community Mitigation Framework.

Food and Water

Currently there is no evidence that people can get COVID-19 by eating or handling food.

It may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, such as a food package or dining ware that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

There is also no current evidence that people can get COVID-19 by drinking water. The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or kill the virus that causes COVID-19.​ Learn more about food and COVID-19.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in treated drinking water. Water treatment plants use filters and disinfectants to remove or kill germs, like the virus that causes COVID-19. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates water treatment plants to ensure that treated water is safe to drink.

Currently, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people by drinking treated water. COVID-19 is spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person. You can continue to use and drink water from your tap as usual.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in the feces of some patients diagnosed with COVID-19. However, it is unclear whether the virus found in feces may be capable of causing COVID-19. There has not been any confirmed report of the virus spreading from feces to a person. Scientists also do not know how much risk there is that the virus could be spread from the feces of an infected person to another person. However, they think this risk is low based on data from previous outbreaks of diseases caused by related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Recently, ribonucleic acid (RNA) from the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in untreated wastewater. While data are limited, there is little evidence of infectious virus in wastewater, and no information to date that anyone has become sick with COVID-19 because of exposure to wastewater. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through properly designed and maintained sewerage systems is thought to be low.

Recently, ribonucleic acid (RNA) from the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in untreated wastewater. While data are limited, there is little evidence of infectious virus in wastewater, and no information to date that anyone has become sick with COVID-19 because of exposure to wastewater.

Standard practices associated with wastewater treatment plant operations should be sufficient to protect wastewater workers from the virus that causes COVID-19. These standard practices can include engineering and administrative controls, hygiene precautions, specific safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally required when handling untreated wastewater. No additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for workers involved in wastewater management, including those at wastewater treatment facilities.

See Information for Wastewater and Sanitation System Workers on COVID-19 for additional information.

In most cases, it is safe to wash your hands with soap and tap water during a Boil Water Advisory. Follow the guidance from your local public health officials. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through water, including floodwater.

Sometimes floodwater can mix with wastewater. CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus being spread by swallowing or coming in contact with water contaminated by feces from an infected person. Stay out of floodwater to avoid hazards and illnesses from contaminants that are not associated with COVID-19. To learn more about COVID-19 and wastewater, see question, “Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?”

Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds

CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Plus, proper operation of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds (such as at an apartment complex or owned by a community) and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus.

The virus mainly spreads when respiratory droplets from infected people land in the mouths or noses of others or possibly when inhaled into the lungs by others. If a public pool, hot tub, or water playground is open, it is important for all visitors and staff to take steps to slow the spread of the virus:

  • Stay home if you are infected or might be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart (in and out of the water) from people you don’t live with.
  • Wear cloth masks when not in water.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (or use the inside of your elbow), throw used tissues in the trash, and wash hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.

See Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds for more information.

CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading to people through the water in pools, including saltwater pools. Plus, proper operation of public pools (such as at an apartment complex or owned by a community) and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus. Saltwater pools are chlorinated pools.

In traditional pools, chlorine products (such as granules or liquid bleach) are added to the water to disinfect it. In saltwater pools, table salt (made up of sodium and chloride) is added to the water, and an electrical current is then run through the water with dissolved salt. This creates the same disinfecting form of chlorine that is created when chlorine products are added to the water in traditional pools.

CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading to people through the water in lakes, oceans, rivers, or other natural bodies of water.

The virus mainly spreads when respiratory droplets from infected people land in the mouths or noses of others or possibly when inhaled into the lungs by others. If a public beach or other swim area in a natural body of water is open, it is important for all visitors and staff to take steps to slow the spread of the virus:

  • Stay home if you are infected or might be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart (in and out of the water) from people you don’t live with.
  • Wear cloth masks when not in water.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (or use the inside of your elbow), throw used tissues in the trash, and wash hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.

See Considerations for Public Beaches for more information.

RNAexternal icon of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in untreated wastewater, which can come from combined sewer overflowsexternal icon (rainwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater) and other sourcesexternal icon (such as, leaking septic tanks or animal waste from farms nearby) and enter swim areas. While data are limited, there is little evidence of infectious virus in wastewater. Plus, CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus being spread by swallowing or coming in contact with water contaminated by feces (poop) from an infected person.

At lakes, oceans, and rivers with routine water quality monitoring programs, staff look for changes in fecal (poop) contamination of the water. Water quality advisories and beach closures alert the public to avoid getting in or on the water because of increased fecal contamination. Learn more about healthy swimming in natural bodies of water and access water quality information by state.

No, do NOT wear a cloth mask in the water. It can be difficult to breathe through a cloth mask when it is wet. Plus, wet cloth masks don’t slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as dry cloth masks. All of this means it is particularly important to stay at least 6 feet apart in the water from people you don’t live with.

In case cloth masks do get wet by mistake, bring a second (or extra) cloth mask for everyone heading out to the public pool or beach.

CDC does not yet have evidence on the effectiveness of different types of cloth materials.

Wearing cloth masks can help prevent people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 from spreading the virus. Make sure your cloth mask:

  • fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
  • completely covers the nose and mouth,
  • is secured with ties or ear loops,
  • includes multiple layers of fabric,
  • allows for breathing without restriction, and
  • can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

Cloth masks should NOT be worn by children less than 2 years old or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Learn more about how to wear, take off, and wash your cloth masks. 

The design of the public pool, hot tub, or water playground and surrounding deck and if visitors live together or not will affect how many people can stay at least 6 feet apart from those they don’t live with.

CDC recommends operators of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds:

  • comply with local, state, territorial, federal, and tribal regulatory agency policies and requirements on gathering (so the number of swimmers in the water isn’t more than the maximum allowed) and
  • teach and reinforce social (physical) distancing among visitors and staff.

Operators might want to limit the number of people in and around the water so if the water needs to be evacuated (because of lightning or other health or safety threat) social distancing can be maintained on the deck. Otherwise, if the water is evacuated and social distancing cannot be maintained on the deck, close the deck to visitors. There is no standard formula to determine how many people can maintain social distancing in the water and on the surrounding deck.

See Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds for more information.

No. Only List N disinfectants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyexternal icon should be used to disinfect surfaces (such as handrails and in bathrooms) and shared objects (such as kickboards and pool noodles).

The list includes hundreds of disinfectants. Operators of public pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds (such as at an apartment complex or owned by a community) should consult with the design company or engineer to determine which disinfectants are best suited for surfaces and with manufacturers to determine which disinfectants are best suited for shared objects.

Remember to clean surfaces and shared objects before disinfecting them and to follow directions on labels of cleaning products and disinfectants.

We don’t know yet. Early scientific data suggest that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be inactivated by the sun’s UV light. However, the ability of the sun’s UV light to inactivate the virus on surfaces (such as handrails and in bathrooms) and shared objects (such as kickboards and pool noodles) needs more research. Factors — such as cloudiness, latitude (distance from equator), time of day, and amount of time exposed to the sun’s UV light — will determine how effectively the virus is inactivated.

Remember to clean surfaces and shared objects before disinfecting them and to follow directions on labels of cleaning products and disinfectantsexternal icon.

The more frequently a surface is touched by multiple people, the more frequently it should be cleaned and then disinfected with a List N disinfectant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyexternal icon. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.

Remember to clean surfaces and shared objects before disinfecting them and to follow directions on labels of cleaning products and disinfectants.

No. RNAexternal icon of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in feces (poop). While data are limited, there is little evidence of infectious virus in feces. Plus, CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus being spread by swallowing or coming in contact with water contaminated by feces from an infected person. As a result, CDC has not changed its fecal incident response recommendations. Remember, do NOT vacuum feces out of the water.

Not when lifeguards are actively lifeguarding. Lifeguards actively lifeguarding should not be doing other tasks that could distract them. Drowning deaths have resulted, at least in part, from lifeguards being distracted. 

Drowning can occur quickly and quietly. Learn and take steps to prevent drowning.

Lifeguard trainers can consider the following steps to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Have the virus? Stay home to save lives.
    • Educate instructors, lifeguard students, and others about when they should stay home to isolate (if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19) or quarantine (if they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19) and when they can return or reschedule training.
    • Conduct daily health checks (see frequently asked question on screening) or ask instructors, students, and others to conduct self-checks (such as temperature screening or symptom checking), if possible.
      • Conduct health checks safely and respectfully and in accordance with any applicable local, state, territorial, federal, and tribal privacy and confidentiality laws, rules, and regulations.
  • Be smart, stay at least 6 feet apart
    • Conduct knowledge training virtually or online, when possible, to limit contact among instructors, students, and others.
    • Teach and reinforce social (physical) distancing during in-person skills training in and out of the water — maintaining at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together.
      • Provide physical cues or guides (such as lane lines in the water or chairs and tables on the deck) and visual cues (such as posted signs or tape on the deck).
    • Limit close contact, particularly face-to-face interactions, between people who don’t live together, as recommended by the lifeguarding-certifying organization. Such as
      • Aquatic rescue
        • For practice rescues
          • Have each student practice rescues on his or her household member instead of another student.
        • For actual rescues
          • Stress the need to keep the number of people involved in rescue and resuscitation to the minimum number needed to provide proper care.
          • Stress the need to 1) perform rescues from the deck (using an extending or throwing device) if conditions allow and 2) if possible, have people on the deck wear cloth masks, when removing victim from the water because social distancing cannot be maintained. If an in-water rescue is needed, minimize exposure to the distressed swimmer’s face without protection, if possible approaching him or her from behind.
      • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
        • For practice resuscitation
          • Limit student-to-manikin ratio and student-to-automated external defibrillator (AED) training device ratio to 1:1. Have each student use his or her own breathing barrier when doing rescue breathing on a manikin.
        • For actual resuscitation
          • Stress the need for and train with personal protective equipment (PPE) during resuscitation, as recommended by the CPR-certifying organization (such as the American Red Crossexternal icon), and use a bag-valve mask (BVM) with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. BVM ventilation is best delivered with two rescuers.
  • Wear a mask. Save lives.
    • Teach and reinforce use of cloth masks in public settings when around people you don’t live with, particularly when it is difficult to maintain social distancing.
      • Advise people wearing masks to not wear them in the water. Cloth masks can be difficult to breathe through when they’re wet. This means it is particularly important to maintain social distancing in the water. Plus, wet cloth masks don’t slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as dry cloth masks.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Teach and reinforce covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue (or use the inside of elbow), throw used tissues in the trash, and wash hands.
  • Wash hands often
    • Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, particularly after being in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
      • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Clean and then disinfect

CDC has more COVID-19–related considerations for public pools and public beaches and non-COVID-19–related healthy and safe swimming resources.

Help control the spread of rumors and be aware of fraud schemes.

Footnotes

1Fever may be subjective or confirmed

2Close contact is defined as—

a) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case

– or –

b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)

If such contact occurs while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment or PPE (e.g., gowns, gloves, NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirator, eye protection), criteria for PUI consideration are met”

See CDC’s updated Interim Healthcare Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Persons Under Investigation for 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Data to inform the definition of close contact are limited. Considerations when assessing close contact include the duration of exposure (e.g., longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk) and the clinical symptoms of the person with COVID-19 (e.g., coughing likely increases exposure risk as does exposure to a severely ill patient). Special consideration should be given to those exposed in health care settings.