COVID-19 FAQs for Patients |


for Patients

Updated from CDC guidance on April 8, 2020. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website.

I hear about coronavirus everywhere I go. What exactly is it?

The novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Why does the virus spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread from person to person mainly 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. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).


COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably through the community (community spread) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Can someone who has been quarantined spread the virus?

Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed illness (symptoms) from others who have not been exposed. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure because the incubation period for this virus is 2 to 14 days.

Can coronavirus be spread through food, including restaurant takeout and delivery?

Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is always important to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Throughout the day, use a tissue to cover your coughing or sneezing and wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.


It may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, like a packaging container, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.

Will warm weather cause COVID-19 to dissipate and stop the outbreak?

It is not yet known if weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19. Some viruses, like those that cause the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during other months. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19, and investigations are ongoing.

How can I protect myself and my family from the coronavirus?

Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Washing your hands is especially important after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people.
    • Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.
    • Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Wear a cloth face cover when you have to go out in public to better protect others in case you are infected.
    • Young children under age 2 and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a cloth face covering.
  • Do not use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Cover coughs and sneezes.

  • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

What can I do to help protect my children during a community outbreak?

There does not seem to be a lot of illness in children. Most illness, including serious illness, is happening in adults of working age and older. However, children can get the virus and become ill. Many schools across the country have closed temporarily. Read or watch local media to keep track of school dismissals in your community and use alternative childcare arrangements, if needed.


If your child becomes sick with COVID-19, notify their childcare facility or school. Talk with teachers about classroom assignments and activities they can do from home to keep up with their schoolwork.
Discourage children and teens from gathering in public places while school is dismissed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.


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