General Information on COVID-19

COVID-19 Virus & Symptoms

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • 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

Learn more about COVID-19 on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.. 

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How COVID-19 Spreads

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

COVID-19 is spread in three main ways:

  • Breathing in air when close to an infected person who is exhaling small droplets and particles that contain the virus.
  • Having these small droplets and particles that contain virus land on the eyes, nose, or mouth, especially through splashes and sprays like a cough or sneeze.
  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth with hands that have the virus on them.

Learn more about how COVID-19 spreads on the CDC website:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/index.html

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Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Personal Hygiene

  • Everyone should monitor their health status and stay home when feeling symptoms of any illness.
  • 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.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • The use of equipment such as phones, headphones, microphones, and other personal equipment should not be shared, and should be sanitized before and after each use.

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Cleaning & Disinfection

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. These droplets and particles can be breathed in by other people or land on their eyes, noses, or mouth. In some circumstances, they may contaminate surfaces they touch. People who are closer than 6 feet from the infected person are most likely to get infected.

The risk of COVID-19 infection from touching a surface is low. Cleaning with products containing soap or detergent reduces germs on surfaces by removing contaminants and may also weaken or damage some of the virus particles, which decreases risk of infection from surfaces.

When no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove virus that may be on surfaces and help maintain a healthy facility.

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Personal Protective Equipment

Face Masks

Masks are recommended as a barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control

The CDC updated its recommendations for wearing a mask on July 27, 2021. 

CDC Recommends Masks to Protect from COVID-19 (PDF)

*A person is considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their final dose in the vaccination series.

Note: The use of N95 and surgical masks should be reserved for healthcare providers and other sectors when appropriate.  

Gloves

The use of gloves is recommended for cleaning, caring for someone who is sick, or certain workplace environments. Gloves are not a substitute for regular hand washing.

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Social Distancing

For people who are not vaccinated, 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 (within 6-feet).

  • Maintain 6-feet distance from others in public spaces and use a face mask over your nose AND mouth when unable to do so (see above). 
  • Consider alternative gatherings, such as parties on a virtual platform or car parades. 
  • If you’re hosting an in-person event, please consider the following: 
    • Limit the guest list to family and close friends. 
    • Ask guests not to attend the party if they’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or if they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. 
    • Wear a face mask over your nose AND mouth. 
    • Encourage guests outside your household to maintain a 6-foot distance and wear a face mask if unable to do so.
    • Move the party outside. 
    • Before and after the party, homeowners should clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, particularly in bathrooms and food preparation spaces (TV remotes, tables, doorknobs, handrails, telephones, light switches, etc.) (see above). 

Learn more about CDC Guidance on Social Distancing: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

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If You Have COVID-19 Symptoms

Most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. 

  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care. 
  • Use a separate room and bathroom for sick household members (if possible).  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Consult with your doctor if you have new or worsening symptoms. If you do not have a doctor, call the NYS Department of Health Hotline: 1-888-364-3065.  
  • If you have a medical appointment, notify your healthcare provider ahead of time that you have or may have COVID-19.   
  • Avoid sharing personal items like utensils, TV remotes, food and drinks. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

If you or a family member develops emergency warning signs, call 911 and get medical attention immediately. Tell the 911 operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19. 

  • In adults, emergency warning signs*: 
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest 
    • New confusion 
    • Inability to wake or stay awake 
    • Bluish lips or face  

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

Visit the CDC’s website for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/index.html.

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High-Risk Populations

Older adults (60 years and older) and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease are more likely to develop severe illness or be hospitalized due to COVID-19. Pregnant women are also at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women. 

Individuals who are at high-risk for severe illness or hospitalization due to COVID-19 are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Go to https://www.vaccines.gov/ to find a vaccination clinic near you or your loved one.  

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Testing

COVID-19 testing is now available to all eligible New Yorkers. 

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Treatment

In general, most people have mild illness and can recover at home. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, notify your doctor, monitor your symptoms, and get emergency medical care immediately for emergency warning signs, such as trouble breathing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir) for adults and certain pediatric patients with COVID-19 who are sick enough to need hospitalization. Veklury should only be administered in a hospital or in a health care setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care.t Call your healthcare provider to find out more about what care and treatment is available to you. 

Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent getting COVID-19. 

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Pets & 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. 

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.

Learn more at the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html.

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Mental Health & COVID-19

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.

 Additional Resources 

Page updated May 28, 2021

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