Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions from Madison County Health Department 

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus is a virus that causes a disease called COVID-19.The virus is spread person-to-person, either in close contact (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. These symptoms or a combination of these symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or chills 
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell 
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19. 

Who is most at-risk for serious illness from COVID-19?
Older adults (60 years and older) and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and weakened immune system. Pregnant women have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viruses similar to COVID-19 and may be more vulnerable.

The State Department of Health is also investigating cases of children in New York who are experiencing other symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. For more information, visit: 

What can I do to prevent spread of germs?  

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.   
  • Practice social distancing – avoid all in-person get togethers with friends and family, and unnecessary trips to public places   
  • Wear a face covering over your nose & mouth when out in public 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.  
  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects in the house (i.e. tables, doorknobs, light switches, remotes).  

What should I do if someone in my house gets sick? 

  • Call your primary healthcare provider. If you do not have a primary healthcare provider, call the NYS Department of Health Hotline: 1-888-364-3065.  
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care  
  • Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).  
  • Wash hands regularly (see above directions) and disinfect high-touch surfaces.   
  • Avoid sharing personal items like utensils, TV remotes, food and drinks.  
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, call 911 and get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs*: 
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest 
    • New confusion or inability to rouse 
    • Bluish lips or face  

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any symptom that is severe or concerning.

What is social distancing?
Social distancing is an effective way to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of people you come into close contact with. 

  • Avoid in-person visits with people who do not live in your household
  • Maintain at a least 6 feet apart from others in public
  • Work from home, if possible
  • Use caution when traveling
  • Host virtual meetings 

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

COVID-19 testing is now available to all eligible New Yorkers. Call your health care provider or the New York State COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to find out if you qualify. 

Free testing is available at testing locations run by New York State. 

If you go to a test site operated by local governments, private companies, including pharmacies and medical practices or not-for-profit organizations, call ahead to find out if you meet testing requirements. Additionally, contact your insurance carrier before being tested to confirm you will not be responsible for any fees associated with your test.

Please check out the testing criteria put together by the New York State Department of Health.

New York State COVID-19 Test Site Finder:
Click Here to Find a Test Site Near You

What happens after an individual is tested for COVID-19?
When a resident is tested for COVID-19, they are asked to quarantine by their healthcare provider until they receive their test result. If the test comes back negative, they are notified by their healthcare provider and no longer need to quarantine. If the test comes back positive, they are notified by their healthcare provider and Madison County Health Department conducts an investigation and issues an order for isolation.

Can COVID-19 be treated? 
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 and there is currently no vaccine. People infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment in a hospital might be required. Call your healthcare provider to find out more about what care and treatment is available to you. 

Who should wear cloth face coverings?
Under the Executive Order by Governor Cuomo, all employees of essential businesses are required to wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. The purpose is to protect the health of coworkers and the public. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the face coverings for their employees effective Wednesday, April 15. 

Under the Executive Order by Governor Cuomo, all community members are required to cover their nose and mouth with a cloth face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain social distance. This is an additional measure that can be taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should continue to practice social distancing – avoid all unnecessary trips to public places, including social gatherings with anyone outside your household. This went into effect on Friday, April 17.

IMPORTANT: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the covering without assistance. For more information, visit:

Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19? 

While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. While CDC recommends that people traveling to affected countries avoid animals both live and dead, there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with COVID-19.

Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.  A small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19. 

Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene. 

Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package or products shipping from a country with widespread transmission of COVID-19? 
Currently there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. 

 How can I help high-risk individuals in my community? 

What can I do to manage my stress related to the coronavirus disease?
The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Taking care of yourself, your friends and family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

  • Take breaks from watching or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.  
  • Take care of your body. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, meditate, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol & drugs. 
  • Connect with people by phone, and express your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call the Madison County Mental Health Crisis line at 315-366-2327 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • For additional ways to reduce stress, visit: 

How long does the COVID-19 virus last on surfaces?
COVID-19 can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly.

Follow the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects every day. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.

  • If surfaces are dirty, first clean them using a detergent and water.
  • After cleaning, disinfect surfaces and objects with products suitable pre-approved for COVID-19. List of products is available here:
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after bringing in packages, or after trips to the grocery store or other places where you may have come into contact with infected surfaces.


For More Information:   
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) -
New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) -

Updated June 11, 2020 1:16 PM