Health Information

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Patients have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

Symptoms take 2-14 days to appear. Individuals can be contagious before exhibiting symptoms.

What should I do if I am sick?

Call your doctor. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Follow these steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.

How long do I need to self-quarantine?

If you’ve had a known exposure to COVID-19, you need to self-quarantine for 14 days. Should you experience symptoms during this time, call your primary care provider.

How does COVID-19 spread?

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and can spread before people show symptoms.
  • Between people within about 6 feet of each other for ten minutes or more.
  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • By touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

How can I prevent COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease in 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask. 
    • CDC does not recommend that people who aren’t sick wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website

For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

What do I do if I think I may have COVID-19?

If you are experiencing fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and you have traveled to infected countries, been exposed to a sick traveler, or been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you should contact your healthcare provider. If you do not have a primary healthcare provider, contact an urgent care facility or local hospital. Be sure to call ahead before going to your doctor’s office or emergency department to prevent any potential spread. 

How can I get a COVID-19 test?

Right now, testing is limited to individuals who are in at-risk groups with known exposure to a COVID-19 case or with symptoms including high fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing.

What about a COVID-19 home testing kit?

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any COVID-19 home testing kits. FDA released an announcement on warning consumers about unauthorized fraudulent coronavirus tests. The Agency is is beginning to see unauthorized fraudulent test kits that are being marketed to test for COVID-19 in the home. The FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing at home for COVID-19. 

Fraudulent health claims, tests, and products can pose serious health risks. They may keep some patients from seeking care or delay necessary medical treatment. The FDA will take appropriate action to protect consumers from bad actors who take advantage of a crisis to deceive the public by marketing tests that pose risks to patient health.

If you are aware of fraudulent test kits for COVID-19, please report them to the FDA. Reports may be sent via email to

How do I know if I was exposed?

You generally need to be in pretty close contact with a sick person to get infected. For example:

  • Living in the same household as a sick person with COVID-19,
  • Caring for a sick person with COVID-19
  • Being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for more than 10 minutes, OR
  • Being in direct contact with secretions from a sick person with COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

If you have not been in close contact with a sick person with COVID-19, you are considered to be at low risk for infection. You can continue to go to work and school but should monitor your health for 14 days and stay away from others if you get sick. 

What do I do if I was exposed?

You should monitor your health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. You should not go to work or school and should avoid public places for 14 days.

What should I do if I am a close contact to someone with COVID-19 and get sick?

If you get sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are very mild), you should stay at home and away from other people. If you have any of the following conditions that may increase your risk for a serious infection —age 60 years or over, are pregnant, or have medical conditions—contact your physician’s office and tell them that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. They may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for COVID-19. 

If you do not have a high-risk condition but want medical advice, you can call your healthcare provider and tell them that you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if you need to be evaluated in person. There are currently no medications to treat COVID-19. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that you may have been exposed to COVID-19. If possible, put on a facemask before emergency medical services arrive or immediately after they arrive.