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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated December 3, 2020


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?

You should quarantine at home for 10 days after the potential exposure watch for symptoms. Symptoms could appear any time between 2–14 days.

If you do not have symptoms, you should be tested seven days after your exposure.

If you develop symptoms, you should get tested immediately.


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.