Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

CDC Information

Where can I find information from the CDC about COVID-19?

Where can I find information from the CDC about COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information available on its website about COVID-19 and also has a series of Frequently Asked Questions. All North Carolinians can use the CDC website to learn more about COVID-19.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) Information

What is a coronavirus? What is COVID-19?

What is a coronavirus? What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Human coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause mild illnesses like the common cold. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was identified in late 2019 and was declared a pandemic on March 11. COVID-19 is an international, national and NC public health emergency. Learn more about COVID-19 from NCDHHS and the CDC.

How does it spread and what can I do to prevent it from spreading?

How does it spread and what can I do to prevent it from spreading?

Coronaviruses, like COVID-19, are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands.

To help prevent the spread, the best thing you can do is stay home as much as possible especially if:

  • You are sick with COVID-19
  • You think you might have COVID-19 and have mild symptoms
  • You believe you might have COVID-19

You should also follow these common-sense measures to help protect yourself and others from spreading COVID-19 and other viruses:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • Practice social distancing, staying at least 6 feet apart from others.

Learn more from the CDC about how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself and others.

    Should I wear a mask?

    Should I wear a mask?

    Social distancing – staying six feet apart from others – cannot be replaced by face coverings. The very best evidence on reducing the spread is to social distance and stay at home. The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

    The CDC is not recommending medical masks, which need to first go to those on the frontlines, including our health care workers. Cloth coverings can play a part in controlling the spread if they are used properly and in combination with other tried and true everyday preventive actions like washing hands, wiping down surfaces. If used incorrectly, face coverings can expose someone to more germs rather than less. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
     

    Should I worry about opening packages?

    Should I worry about opening packages?

    Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

    Can you get COVID-19 from touching contaminated objects?

    Can you get COVID-19 from touching contaminated objects?

    Possibly, if you touch a surface with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes. However, this is not likely to be the main way the virus spreads.

    Is a vaccine available?

    Is a vaccine available?

    Currently there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself from respiratory diseases like COVID-19 is to take common-sense precautions. These include frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, making sure you have gotten your annual flu shot and practicing social distancing by staying six feet away from others as much as possible. There is work underway to develop a vaccine.

    What is community spread?

    What is community spread?

    Community spread means there is at least one case where we don’t know how someone contracted COVID-19. They didn’t have contact with someone who has tested positive or traveled to highly impacted area.

    COVID-19 Symptoms

    What are the symptoms and when do they appear?

    What are the symptoms and when do they appear?

    Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu. They are:

    • Cough
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath

    COVID-19 typically causes mild to moderate respiratory illness. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms that do not require hospitalization, although there have been reports of severe illness with a small percentage resulting in death. Respiratory symptoms alone are not an indicator for COVID-19.

    Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.

    Can COVID-19 be spread before someone has symptoms?

    Can COVID-19 be spread before someone has symptoms?

    We know that people are most contagious when they have symptoms. Whether the virus can be spread before someone has symptoms is currently being evaluated. More on how COVID-19 spreads is available from the CDC.

    What treatments are available?

    What treatments are available?

    Most people with illnesses due to coronavirus recover on their own. There are no specific treatments for COVID-19, but treatments to bring down fever or alleviate other symptoms may help. For people who become severely ill, hospitals can provide care. There is more to be learned about COVID-19 as the situation continues to evolve, and treatment options may change over time. Learn more from the CDC.

    Risks

    Who is considered a high-risk individual?

    Who is considered a high-risk individual?

    Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness if they become infected with the virus. Learn more about who may be at higher risk for severe illness.  

    Additionally, the CDC has more information about at-risk individuals, including older adults, people with asthma, and people with HIV

    I had contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do?

    I had contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do?

    If you have had close contact with someone while they were symptomatic, you should monitor yourself for symptoms, stay home to the extent possible and contact your health care provider if you start suffering from severe illness. If you do not have health insurance, call your nearest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)

    More on exposure and symptoms here. See current CDC guidance on actions to take based on your level of exposure.

    Pharmaceuticals

    What is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and does it treat COVID-19?

    What is hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and does it treat COVID-19?

    Hydroxychloroquine is FDA approved to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as treat or prevent malaria. So far, studies with small numbers of patients suggest that hydroxychloroquine could reduce the length of hospital stay and improve COVID-19 pneumonia in severely ill patients. We continue to review the evidence as it becomes available. We do not have data at this time to show hydroxychloroquine can prevent coronavirus infection. Learn more from the CDC.

    What other medications are being tested to treat COVID-19?

    What other medications are being tested to treat COVID-19?

    Many medications are being tested to treat or prevent COVID-19, but no medication is currently approved by the FDA to treat the virus. Many of the medications in testing for COVID-19 are FDA approved to treat serious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV infection, and autoimmune conditions. It is important that those medications remain available to treat the conditions for which they are FDA approved as their effectiveness for COVID-19 is being assessed. Learn more from the CDC.

    How can providers and pharmacies help ensure medications remain available for chronic conditions if the medication is in testing for COVID-19?

    How can providers and pharmacies help ensure medications remain available for chronic conditions if the medication is in testing for COVID-19?

    As more treatments are investigated for COVID-19 treatments, we encourage prescribers to limit prescriptions to drugs consistent with evidence for their use, and in quantities consistent with such. Many of the drugs in evaluation for COVID-19 are FDA approved for other diseases and vital to ongoing patient therapy. We recommend providers issue prescriptions for medications to treat COVID-19 when warranted based on professional judgment and current evidence, and include on the prescription the diagnosis, limit quantities to no more than 14 days, and permit no refills without a follow-up prescription. 

    The NC Board of Pharmacy passed the COVID19 Drug Preservation Rule on 3/24/2020. The text of the rule is available here. This rule restricts dispensing to 14 days of certain medications when used for COVID19. This helps maintain supplies for medications for patients using them for chronic conditions and severely ill COVID19 patients. The NC Board of Pharmacy has FAQs on their website.  

    Are veterinary medications or other products with chloroquine as an active ingredient safe to consume?

    Are veterinary medications or other products with chloroquine as an active ingredient safe to consume?

    No. People should not take any medications unless they are FDA approved for human consumption and prescribed by their doctor. There has been a report of a death because a person took a fish care product that contained chloroquine. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council issued a statement reminding everyone “that they should never use pet care products, or any products, for any purpose other than what the label directs.”

    Travel

    I have recently traveled. What should I do?

    I have recently traveled. What should I do?

    Visit our travel guidance for more information.

    I have a trip planned. Should I still go?

    I have a trip planned. Should I still go?

    There are currently no specific advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States, however Gov. Roy Cooper has signed Executive Order 121, effective 5 p.m. March 30, 2020, ordering North Carolinians remain in their homes except for performing essential work and essential activities. (View frequently asked questions.)

    Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all 50 states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, such as airports, might increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19 if there are other travelers with COVID-19.

    The CDC and NCDHHS recommend that adults over age 65, people with serious underlying health conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes) and people with weakened immune systems avoid travel at this time if possible and stay home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.

    Travel recommendations are frequently changing. Visit the CDC's website and the U.S. Department of State website for the latest travel recommendations and visit our travel guidance for more information.

    Are there certain things I should do if I decide to travel?

    Are there certain things I should do if I decide to travel?

    If you must travel, please follow these common-sense recommendations:

    • Do not travel if you are 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. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

    Visit our travel guidance for more information. The CDC has a Travel FAQ

    Precautions and Preparations

    What can I do to protect myself and my family?

    What can I do to protect myself and my family?

    There are common sense measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19. NCDHHS recommends that people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. Everyone should also practice social distancing staying six feet away from others as much as possible.

    See information on individuals and families

    What should older adults do to protect themselves?

    What should older adults do to protect themselves?

    Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. NCDHHS recommends that people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. Learn more about what higher-risk individuals should do.

     

    What can pregnant women do to protect themselves?

    What can pregnant women do to protect themselves?

    There is limited information so far about COVID-19 in pregnant women. Pregnant women are at higher risk from influenza and other respiratory viruses, so they are encouraged to be extra vigilant. There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. The CDC has information specifically for pregnant women and children.

    Go to COVID-19: Individuals and Families for more information.

    Can I visit a nursing home or elder care facility?

    Can I visit a nursing home or elder care facility?

    NCDHHS recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high-risk persons restrict visitors. This is due to older adults and those with chronic conditions being more likely to have severe illness when infected with COVID-19. These establishments include nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and facilities that care for medically-vulnerable children. 

    What cleaning products should I use to prevent the spread of COVID-19? What should be cleaned?

    What cleaning products should I use to prevent the spread of COVID-19? What should be cleaned?

    Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas, such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, tables, desks, toilets, sinks, hard-back chairs. First, clean dirty surfaces with detergent or soap and water. Disinfect surfaces with diluted household bleach solution (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water), alcohol solutions of 70%+ alcohol or EPA-registered household disinfectants. Use gloves or wash hands thoroughly after cleaning. More from the CDC.

    Find more information on household planning.

    How long will COVID-19 remain on surfaces?

    How long will COVID-19 remain on surfaces?

    Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces.

    Testing

    How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

    How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

    COVID-19 is diagnosed through a laboratory test. More information about testing in North Carolina is here

    Should I get tested?

    Should I get tested?

    If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should call to discuss this with your health care provider and your local health department. Testing for COVID-19 can only be done in consultation with your health care provider or local health department. Learn more about testing in North Carolina.

    Why are we not testing more?

    Why are we not testing more?

    Supplies have been limited, but testing is targeted to people who are symptomatic. Testing for asymptomatic persons is not recommended. Testing criteria has been expanded. Learn more about testing in North Carolina.

    Where can I find out how many COVID-19 cases are in North Carolina?

    Where can I find out how many COVID-19 cases are in North Carolina?

    Case counts can be found here.

    Know Your Terms

    Who is social distancing recommended for? Should we all be social distancing?

    Who is social distancing recommended for? Should we all be social distancing?

    Social distancing or maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet away from others is recommended at this point for everyone. 

    What is the difference between self-monitoring, isolation and quarantine?

    What is the difference between self-monitoring, isolation and quarantine?

    These are protective measures used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people who may have been exposed.

    Self-monitoring is for those that may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, and that they should monitor themselves for symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If they develop symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath) during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.

    Quarantine is for people who were exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms. Contact your local health department if you are unsure if you should self-quarantine.

    Isolation separates people who are sick from those who are well. The people who tested presumptive positive and positive in North Carolina are in isolation.

    Learn more about COVID-19 exposure and symptoms.

    How is it decided when a person with COVID-19 can self-isolate at home or must be confined somewhere?

    How is it decided when a person with COVID-19 can self-isolate at home or must be confined somewhere?

    Local health departments will work in partnership with physicians and the NC Division of Public Health to determine whether a person with COVID-19 requires hospitalization or home isolation. The decision may be based on multiple factors including severity of illness, need for testing and suitability of home isolation.

    Child Care Centers

    What should child care centers do if a child or staff member is sick?

    What should child care centers do if a child or staff member is sick?

    Children and staff should remain home if sick.

    If a child or staff member develops the following symptoms, send them home as soon as possible:

    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath

    While waiting for a sick child to be picked up, caregivers should stay with the child in a room isolated from others. If the child has symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath), the caregiver should remain as far away as safely possible from the child (preferably, 6 feet). If facemasks are available, wear a facemask.

    It is also recommended that child care facilities have flexible sick leave and absentee policies that do not encourage people to come in while sick.

    Go to Child Care Guidance for more information.

    What's the criteria for screening children or staff for illness?

    What's the criteria for screening children or staff for illness?

    Conduct a Daily Health Check and ask children and staff:

    1. If they have had close contact (defined by the CDC as being within 6 feet of someone for 10 minutes or more) with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
    2. If anyone in their household has symptoms of respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath).

    Consider screening children and employees for fever, cough or shortness of breath upon arrival each day.

    People with a temperature greater than 100.4 F should be sent home until they have had no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g., Advil, Tylenol).

    • Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 should remain isolated until at least 7 days after symptom onset AND ≥72 hours after symptom resolution (absence of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and improvement in respiratory symptoms) unless otherwise instructed by their local health department.

    For infants and young children, temperature can be taken by axillary (under the arm).

    For children over age four, temperature can be taken orally (under the tongue). Individual plastic covers should be used on oral thermometers with each use or thermometers should be cleaned and sanitized after each use according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Another option for children ages six months and older is an ear or forehead thermometer with a disposable cover that is changed after each reading. Temperature should not be taken rectally in a child care setting.

    How can I limit chances for exposure to COVID-19 at a child care center?

    How can I limit chances for exposure to COVID-19 at a child care center?

    Have parents drop off children outside the classroom. Staff should meet children as they are dropped off.

    • Only staff needed to maintain ratio compliance should be inside classrooms.
    • Cancel or postpone any planned field trips or outings to areas with large crowds of people.

    Go to Child Care Guidance for more information.

    What are the recommendations for cleaning a child care facility?

    What are the recommendations for cleaning a child care facility?

    • Follow regular cleaning protocols and use an EPA-registered disinfectant that is active against coronaviruses. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout the day and at night.
    • Keep a designated bin for separating mouthed toys and maintain awareness of children’s behaviors. When a child is done with a mouthed toy, remove it, place it in a toy bin that is inaccessible to other children, and wash hands. Clean and sanitize toys before returning to children’s area.
    • Clean and sanitize all toys at the end of the day.
    • Consider removing soft toys that cannot be easily cleaned during the coronavirus outbreak. Soft toys that are machine-washable should be washed often at the warmest temperature recommended on the label and dried thoroughly.

    Go to Child Care Guidance for more information.

    Are child care facilities closed?

    Are child care facilities closed?

    Child care centers in North Carolina are not required to close at this time. Child care centers should stay informed of NCDHHS’ guidance for child care settings. This includes a ban on mass gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. Other recommendations include:

    • Canceling or reducing large events and gatherings, such as assemblies and field trips. 
    • Limiting inter-school interactions. 
    • Considering distance or e-learning in some settings.
    • Considering dismissals if staff or absenteeism impacts the ability to remain open. Short-term closures may also be necessary to facilitate public health investigation and/or cleaning if a case is diagnosed in a child or staff member.

    Businesses

    What is being done to encourage employers to allow their employees to telework and/or expand sick leave options?

    What is being done to encourage employers to allow their employees to telework and/or expand sick leave options?

    NCDHHS recommends that employers and employees use teleworking technologies to the greatest extent possible, stagger work schedules, and consider canceling non-essential travel to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19 infection.  Executive Order 121 bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least 6 feet apart from others.

    Other information for North Carolina businesses can be found here, including frequently asked questions.

    Restaurants

    Are restaurants and bars open for business?

    Are restaurants and bars open for business?

    Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina restaurants and bars were closed to sit-down service and limited to take-out or delivery orders starting at 5 p.m. March 17, 2020. Restaurants and bars can provide take-out and delivery services.

    Grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores, are exempt from this order and will remain open, though they may not serve sit-down food. 

    Learn more about COVID-19: Businesses and Employers or Guidance for Restaurants

    Information

    Where can I get the latest information on COVID-19?

    Where can I get the latest information on COVID-19?

    Visit the NCDHHS website, www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, and check the Updates page. You should also visit the CDC website for the latest information at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

    Who can I call?

    Who can I call?

    Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162. Sign up for updates by texting COVIDNC to 898211.

    Community Events

    How does COVID-19 affect public events?

    How does COVID-19 affect public events?

    On March 27, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 121, a statewide Stay at Home Order beginning Monday, March 30, 2020 at 5 p.m. until April 29, 2020. This order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. Specifically, the order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. For more information about Executive Order 121, read the FAQs

    Get more details on the community events page

    Can churches have worship services?

    Can churches have worship services?

    Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 121, effective 5 p.m. March 30, that allows individuals to attend their places of worship if they follow the mass gathering ban and do not have more than 10 people assembled. (View frequently asked questions.) Social distancing should be practiced.

    Places of worship are encouraged to stream their services online to accommodate people complying with the Order.

    Get more details community events page and go to Mass Gatherings Guidance for additional information.  

    What about planned wedding ceremonies or receptions?

    What about planned wedding ceremonies or receptions?

    Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 121, effective 5 p.m. March 30, that reduces the size of gatherings to 10 people. View frequently asked questions.

    Go to Mass Gatherings Guidance for more information.  

    Can funerals be held?

    Can funerals be held?

    A funeral home can continue to conduct retail business in assisting clients with funeral arrangements. To slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and reduce the number of people infected, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited under  Executive Order 120 issued on March 23. Executive Order 121, effective 5 p.m. March 30, does not reduce the number of people who may gather, but individuals should practice social distancing. (View frequently asked questions.) 

    Go to Mass Gatherings Guidance for more information.