COVID-19: Information for You and Your Family

Q: What is a novel coronavirus? 

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

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A: Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Q: How can I protect myself?

A: You can protect yourself by:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Q: Am I at risk for COVID-19?

A: The overall risk of COVID-19 in Texas to the general public is elevated at this time due to the growing evidence of person-to-person spread in the United States.

For the latest on the number of confirmed cases in Texas visit Texas DSHS.

Q: What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

A: If you are experiencing symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, please contact your health care provider. It is important to call before going into a clinic, urgent care, or emergency department, to prevent any potential spread.

Q: What are steps to help prevent the spread of illnesses such as flu and COVID-19 if you are sick?

A: If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with COVID-19 or any other respiratory illness follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

  • Stay at home until instructed to leave: Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain under home isolation precautions until the risk of secondary transmission to others is thought to be low.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor: If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
  • Monitor your symptoms and seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening.
  • Avoid public areas: Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
  • Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
  • Keep family separated: Separate yourself from other people and in your home, including loved ones.
  • Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.
  • Wash hands: Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice routine cleaning of high touch surfaces: High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

Q: How does the virus causing COVID-19, spread?

A: This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. Currently, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.

Q: Can someone who has had COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why the CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

How long someone is actively sick can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials. This decision involves considering specifics of each situation including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.

Current CDC guidance for when it is OK to release someone from isolation is made on a case by case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:

  • The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.

Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

Q: Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?

A: 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, to prevent the possible spread of that disease. Quarantine is usually established for the incubation period of the communicable disease, which is the period during which people have developed the illness after exposure. For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar coronaviruses. Someone who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.

Q: How can I help protect myself?

A: To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including flu and COVID-19, follow these measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

Q: Does the use of facemasks in the community help prevent COVID-19?

A: CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

Q: What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?

A: Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Q: Are some people at higher risk for severe infection?

A: Yes. Similar to influenza, those who are over the age of 70 and/or have underlying health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, chronic lung disease, and diabetes are at greater risk for severe disease and complications from COVID-19.

Q: How can people help stop stigma related to COVID-19?

A: Health officials emphasize that Asian individuals are not at greater risk of carrying the coronavirus than any other individual. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop the stigma.

For more FAQs, visit CDC.gov/Coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.