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Salt Lake County Health Department
General Information  
Phone: (385) 468-4100

Frequently Asked Questions

General

Q: How is COVID-19 spread?

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Q: Should I wear a face mask?

Yes, we recommend wearing a cloth face mask or covering when you leave home.

There aren’t enough surgical or N-95 face masks so those should be saved for healthcare workers.

The CDC has instructions on wearing, washing, and making your own face mask (both sewn and with no sewing necessary).

Q: What is considered “exposure” to COVID-19?

You are considered potentially exposed to COVID-19 if you have recently (within 14 days) traveled to an area experiencing widespread community transmission or if you have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19.

Close contact is defined as within 6 feet of the person for at least 15 minutes.

Q: What should I do if I think I've been exposed to COVID-19?

You should quarantine at home for 14 days after the potential exposure watch for symptoms. Symptoms could appear any time between 2–14 days.

If you develop symptoms, get tested.

Find testing locations near you; when you click on a test site at that link, it will display any prescreening requirements for that site, such as calling to schedule an arrival time or your provider ordering the test.

Q: I think I have COVID-19; what should I do?

If you are symptomatic, get tested.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle soreness
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell

Find testing locations near you; when you click on a test site at that link, it will display any prescreening requirements for that site, such as calling to schedule an arrival time or your provider ordering the test.

Q: If I've been ill, how long until I can return to work and be in public?

Isolate in your home until you are better and one of the following has passed, whichever is longer:

  • 7 days after you first felt ill
  • 3 days after you no longer have a fever without the aid of fever-reducing medications

So, for example, if you were ill for 2 days, you need to wait 5 more before returning to work; if you were ill for 9 days, you need to wait 12 days before returning to work.

Q: Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Q: Can the virus spread from contaminated objects?

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.

Q: How long does the virus survive on objects?

The virus is known to survive on surfaces for hours or days. It has been detected up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2 or 3 days on plastic and stainless steel.

Q: What should I use to clean objects and surfaces in my house?

See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. Note that products are listed by their EPA Registration Number, not their brand name. EPA Registration Numbers must be printed on the product (usually in the fine print) and are two or three numbers separated by a hyphen, like 12345-12 or 12345-12-2567. Be sure to follow all label directions and precautions when using the product.

Q: Do you have information in other languages?