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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated January 7, 2022


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

You are considered potentially exposed to COVID-19 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 a total of at least 15 minutes.

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

If you are vaccinated and boosted, or have gotten your initial vaccine series within the last six months (for Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna) or the last two months (for Johnson & Johnson), you should wear a mask around others for 10 days and take a COVID test on day 5, if possible. If you develop symptoms, get tested sooner and isolate at home.

If you are unvaccinated, had your last Pfizer or Moderna shot more than six months ago and have not been boosted, or had your Johnson & Johnson show more than two months ago and have not been boosted, you should stay home for five days and wear a mask around others for an additional five days. If you can't quarantine, wear a mask around others for 10 days. Get tested for COVID on day 5, if possible. If you develop symptoms at any time, get tested and isolate at home.

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

You should isolate in your home until your symptoms are improving and the following has passed:

  • 10 days after you first felt ill AND
  • 24 hours after you no longer have a fever without the aid of fever-reducing medications
Q: Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

Yes, people who have COVID but no symptoms can still spread the virus to others.

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.