Currently, there is no specific antiviral medication that is FDA-approved to treat COVID-19, and there is no vaccine yet available. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, which is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
How can I help protect myself and my loved ones?
Everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of any respiratory disease, including COVID-19.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. 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.
The CDC now recommends that everyone (except children under 2) should cover their nose and mouth with a cloth face cover when around others. If you do not have a mask, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than into your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe, including tables, switches, doorknobs, and sinks.
Stay home when you are sick. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Public health experts encourage physical distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. Keeping a distance of 6 feet from others reduces the chances of inhaling respiratory droplets from an infected person when they cough or sneeze. Avoiding large crowds also reduces the chances of infection. The CDC recommends recommends avoiding crowds larger than 50.
Should I wear a facemask in the community to prevent COVID-19?
The CDC now recommends that everyone (except children under 2) should cover their nose and mouth with a cloth face cover when around others. The cloth face covering is meant to prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to others in case you are sick, even if you are not exhibiting symptoms. When choosing a facemask for going out in public to places such as the grocery store, to get gas, etc., please do not use facemasks meant for health care workers such as N95s or surgical masks.
Are children more susceptible to COVID-19 compared with the general population?
There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. In fact, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported from China have occurred in adults. Children should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection, including cleaning hands often by using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding people who are sick and staying up to date on vaccinations, including influenza vaccine.
Should I be concerned about COVID-19 if I am pregnant?
CDC has information for other special populations, who at this time are not considered high risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness, but are at increased risk of severe illness from other infectious diseases. These include pregnant women and children. Review the CDC guidance for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19?
While this virus is most likely to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. There is no evidence that any companion animals in the United States might spread COVID-19 to people or be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, the CDC has received few reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 outside of the U.S., and the first case of an animal testing positive in the U.S. was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.
Read more about pets and COVID-19 from the American Veterinary Medical Association and the CDC.
What does it mean to be quarantined?
Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease, but have not developed illness, from others who have not been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Currently the CDC and other federal agencies are requiring that all travelers from China undergo mandatory quarantine at a federal facility for 14 days after leaving China. These travelers are monitored closely for the possible development of symptoms. The CDC also recommends “home quarantine” for travelers returning from Iran, Europe and South Korea. This means that these people would stay at home for 14 days after leaving Iran, Europe and South Korea, and would be monitored by local health departments for the possible development of symptoms. People who develop symptoms would be further evaluated for whether they will be tested for COVID-19 infection, and whether they can remain at home while ill or if they need hospitalization. Travelers returning from Japan or a cruise should watch their health during travel and for 14 days after returning to the U.S.
I am planning to travel internationally. Will COVID-19 affect my plans?
Visit the Department of State website for guidance on international travel. Travelers should remember that this is a rapidly evolving situation and travel advisories may change from day to day. Per CDC guidance, you are considered to be at risk for COVID-19 if you have traveled internationally, have had close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or are undergoing evaluation for COVID-19, or returned from a cruise all within the past 14 days.
Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package or products shipping from China?
There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged in the past 18 years that cause illness in people, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV (neither of these viruses currently circulate in the U.S.). In general, because of poor survivability of these other coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped. 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
The Alachua County Health Department has created a new call center for the community to address questions about testing and any concerns with COVID-19. The call center’s phone number is 352-334-8810.