Frequently Asked Questions
Coronavirus Disease 2019 Basics
What is a novel coronavirus?
Why is the virus being called "Coronavirus 2019", COVID19?
What is the name of the virus causing the outbreak of coronavirus disease?
Is SAR-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) the same as MERS-CoV or SARS-Cov?
No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people. Others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can spread to people. This happened with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. The virus that causes COVID-19 likely also originated in an animal and spread to humans. The coronavirus most similar to the virus causing COVID-19 is SARS-CoV. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. The situation is changing, and information will be updated as it becomes available.
I was tested for COVID-19 using the rapid 15-minute test. What information do I need to know?
How It Spreads
What is the source of the virus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people. More information about the source and spread of COVID-19 is available on the Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.
How does the virus spread?
Can someone who has COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
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.
Can someone who has been quarantined for COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
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, in order to prevent the possible spread of that disease. 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 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.
Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be spread through food, including refrigerated or frozen food?
Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?
It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like 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. At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
What is community spread?
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.
How to Protect Yourself
Am I at risk for COVID-19 in the United States?
This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment may change daily. The latest updates are available on CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website.
Has anyone in the United States gotten infected?
Yes. There have been cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. related to travel and person-to-person spread. U.S. case counts are updated regularly on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. See the current U.S. case count of COVID-19.
How can I help protect myself?
Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.
What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, COVID-19 available online.
Does CDC recommend the use of facemask to prevent COVID-19?
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).
Am I at risk for COVID-19 from a package or products shipping from China?
There is still a lot that is unknown about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. Two other coronaviruses have emerged previously to cause severe illness in people (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV). The virus that causes COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are betacoronaviruses with their origins in bats. While we don’t know for sure that this virus will behave the same way as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, we can use the information gained from both of these earlier coronaviruses to guide us. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website as it becomes available.
Symptoms & Testing
What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?
Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever1, cough, and difficulty breathing. Read about COVID-19 Symptoms.
Should I be tested for COVID-19?
How do you test a person for COVID-19?
Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19?
What CDC is Doing
Sources of Information
COVID-19 and Animals
What about animals or animal products imported from China?
CDC does not have any evidence to suggest that animals or animal products imported from China pose a risk for spreading COVID-19 in the United States. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) play distinct but complementary roles in regulating the importation of live animals and animal products into the United States. CDC regulates animals and animal products that pose a threat to human health, USDA regulatesexternal icon animals and animal products that pose a threat to agriculture; and FWS regulatesexternal icon importation of endangered species and wildlife that can harm the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture, or forestry, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources.
Can I travel to the United States with dogs or import dogs into the United States during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Please refer to CDC’s requirements for bringing a dog to the United States. The current requirements for rabies vaccination apply to dogs imported from China, a high-risk country for rabies.
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 in China. There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.
Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?
You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.
What precautions should be taken for animals that have recently been imoorted (For example, by shelters, rescue groups, or as personal pets) from China?
Animals imported from China will need to meet CDC and USDAexternal icon requirements for entering the United States. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. As with any animal introduced to a new environment, animals recently imported from China should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your local veterinary clinic before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was recently in China.
1Fever may be subjective or confirmed