Frequently Asked Questions

This page uses the official term COVID-19 to refer to the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Many rumors related to COVID-19 circulating on social media are false or contain misinformation. People should be skeptical of rumors they hear on social media that aren’t being reported by reputable health organizations or mainstream media outlets and should not share or repost items unless they are able to confirm that they are true. False and inaccurate social media posts can cause a great deal of harm.

Symptoms and Treatment

Q. What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?
The virus can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing but can cause serious illnesses in some people who may have medical issues such as heart and lung disease or weakened immune systems.

Q. Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat COVID-19?
Currently, there are no specific medicines or vaccines for the new virus, and antibiotics do not work either (they fight off bacteria). Most people get better on their own. Scientists are working to develop a vaccine, but this will have to be tested in trials first, so it could be some time before it is ready. Scientists are also conducting studies to determine if medications already on the market could be effective in treating COVID-19.

Q. Who is most affected by COVID-19?
. Generally, young children, elderly people and those with underlying conditions (e.g. hypertension, heart disorders, diabetes, liver disorders, and respiratory disease) are likely to be more at risk of developing severe symptoms from respiratory illnesses. As this is an emerging disease and there is only limited information available, we do not yet know which groups of people might be prone to more serious outcomes after COVID-19 infection.


Q. Who can be tested for COVID-19?
Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19, which are fever, cough, or shortness of breath, will be considered for testing. People should call their doctor or use their doctor’s online telehealth service to determine if they need to be tested and to be referred to a testing site.

Q. Is there still a shortage of testing supplies?
Testing capacity in Utah has increased significantly since the early days of the pandemic. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms, and has no other diagnosis to explain their symptoms, can be tested. People should still call their doctor or use online telehealth services to be directed to testing locations. This will help preserve the supply of protective equipment medical providers use to collect specimens from patients.

Social Distancing, Isolation, Quarantine, and Monitoring

Q. What is social distancing?
Social distancing means staying away from mass gatherings (e.g., stadiums, theaters, shopping centers, schools, community events, church), avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, taxi, TRAX, ride share), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others. This is a strategy public health uses often for other respiratory diseases such as influenza.

Q. What does isolation mean?
. Isolation means separating sick people who have an infectious disease from other people who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of sick people to help stop the spread of certain diseases.

Q. Who is being isolated?
. People who test positive for COVID-19 and are not sick enough to be hospitalized will be instructed to isolate themselves at home. Anyone who is sick, regardless of a positive test for COVID-19 should also isolate at home. This means staying home except to seek medical care or other essential services. People who isolate at home should stay away from other people in their house, try to sleep in a separate room, don’t share cups and utensils, and practice good hygiene like washing your hands frequently. People on home isolation who experience trouble breathing should call their healthcare provider for guidance on what to do.

Q. What does quarantine mean?
Quarantine means separating a person or group of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease but have not developed symptoms from others who have not been exposed. This helps prevent the possible spread of that disease.

Q. What determines when a person will be quarantined for COVID-19?
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.

Q. Is a person who has been released from quarantine still considered a risk?
No. A person who has been released from COVID-19 quarantine is not considered at risk for spreading the virus to others because they have not developed illness during the incubation period.

Q. What does “active monitoring” mean?
. Active monitoring means the state or local public health department will regularly contact a potentially exposed person to determine if the person develops fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Contact will be at least once daily and may be twice daily for some people, depending on their risk level. Contact may include telephone calls, text, or email.

Q. What happens if a person in active monitoring develops symptoms?
. A person who is under active monitoring and develops symptoms should notify the local health department conducting the monitoring about their symptoms. The person should also contact their healthcare provider immediately. The healthcare provider will consult with the local health department and the Utah Department of Health to determine if testing is necessary and assess the need for further medical evaluation.

Disease Transmission

Q. How is the virus spread?
A. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet)
  • By respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs

Q. Who is at risk for COVID-19?
A. COVID-19 is currently spreading in many Utah communities. Anyone who comes into close contact with a person who has COVID-19 is especially at risk.

Q. What does close contact mean?
. Close contact means being within approximately 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 for approximately 10 minutes or more. Close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a person who has COVID-19.

Q. Who is not considered at risk for becoming infected or spreading COVID-19?
A. The following people are not considered at risk for COVID-19:
• Someone who has completed their quarantine or met the requirements to discontinue infection control measures does not pose a current risk of spreading COVID-19.
• People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get or spread coronavirus than anyone else. Help fight fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.
• Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.

Q. Can you get COVID-19 from animals?
There is no evidence that animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus and spread it to humans. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.

General Information

Q. What does COVID-19 mean?
A. This is the official name for the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently renamed 2019-nCoV to COVID-19 using a combination of the words coronavirus (CO), virus (VI), and disease (D). The number “19” is for the year the outbreak was first identified. The name was chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species or group of people to prevent stigma.

Q. Should I wear a face mask? Does wearing a face mask help prevent coronavirus?
. For the general public, face masks are not recommended for protection from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Face masks help prevent further spread of infection from those who are sick to others around them. You should only wear a face mask if a healthcare provider recommends it. A face mask 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 face masks is also 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 healthcare facility, for example).

Q. Is COVID-19 more serious than influenza?
Because there is currently widespread influenza in the U.S., the risk of getting influenza is much greater for those in the U.S. right now than the risk of novel coronavirus. It is still recommended to get an influenza vaccine if you have not already done so. The challenge with the new coronavirus is that we are continuing to learn more about the virus, such as how it spreads and how it can be contained. COVID-19 is serious and public health officials are taking the possibility of widespread disease very seriously.

Q. If I get a package from an area with coronavirus and open it, will I get coronavirus?
. People receiving packages from areas with coronavirus are not at risk of contracting COVID-19. Coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. These viruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets, such as coughing and sneezing. There have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. associated with imported goods.